Use cases for learning analytics in the corporate world

Re: "Signals", but for work not education

by John Fritz -
Number of replies: 0
"The success of [Signals for work] will depend on it being totally automated and only between an objective 'system' and yourself. Noone gets notified of these preemptive warnings, no managers get any alerts yet... The system is there for you to take action."


I sure hope this doesn't come across as petty or sniping, but Signals is not automated. Students only see a red, yellow or green stoplight if a Purdue instructor actively uses Signals in his or her course, and then intervenes (by flipping the light switch) based on the student's performance data. I specifically asked this question of John Campbell during his ELI 2011 featured presentation in Washington, DC on February 16 (our exchange is captured at time code 00:52:11 of the video archive of his talk).

Essentially, John said he'd made a philosophical decision NOT to present data directly to students because he didn't want professors to be accosted by students with information the prof didn't readily have beforehand.

I really like and respect John a lot, and think I and so many others have directly benefited from the heavy lifting he and Purdue have done in learning analytics before any of us were even looking into this. However, I think his philosophical decision to filter student data through an instructor's lens, and (more importantly) base ALL of the intervention responsibility on instructors, misses the opportunity for self-awareness and self-efficacy you describe for a Corporate Signals.

That's why, when we developed our Check My Activity (CMA) tool, I made the philosophical decision to show students their own data directly, without human intervention, to see if having their data--in the most ideal way for them to understand it--would raise their awareness and motivate them to seek or accept help from instructors or academic advisors. We're just at the start of analyzing how students use the CMA to answer that question. To be sure, some students will under-respond or maybe not at all. But the risk of doing so means you provide a learning environment where some students WILL act on their own. Those are the ones I think we can help, particularly if the CMA can complement the human resources UMBC is all too ready and willing to provide, if only we can connect the students who need help--and want it--with people who can provide it. After all, it's a whole lot easier to answer a request for help than it is to try and instill one in a person, who doesn't know they need it, as a form of Inception. As a result, I like to think of our CMA as a "high tech, high touch" approach to student success and retention.

Apart from tracking and displaying the right metrics that would be meaningful to corporate employees, maybe there wouldn't be so many philosophical concerns, and management can just do what it wants with a Corporate Signals, by edict. But if learning is to be authentic (in any organization), it has to be self-determined somewhat. I applaud your call for an "I/Thou" relationship between the individual and his or her own data. Awareness starts from the inside out, and learning analytics should facilitate and leverage that.


John Fritz