A Deep Dive into Learning Analytics: LASI 2016 Conference Recap

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

From June 27-29 2016, over 100 individuals convened at U-M for the annual Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI). The three-day event focused on understanding and exploring learning analytics in higher education, from both a research and implementation perspective, in order to shape pedagogical practices and improve the learning experience for faculty and students. Stephanie Teasley, the 2016 co-chair of LASI and research professor at U-M, kicked off the conference and shared her expertise on learning analytics strategies and techniques with LASI participants.

Stephanie Teasley

Participants came together for morning sessions that featured talks, panel sessions and audience Q&A on a range of topics including altmetrics, gameful learning, and ethics and privacy to discuss how they intersect with and shape the field of learning analytics.

Chris Teplovs presenting on the Digital Innovation Greenhouse

The conference featured several team members from DEI who presented on ways to think about learning analytics and pedagogy. Chris Teplovs, Lead Developer for the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG), presented on altmetrics research for higher education in collaboration with Cliff Lampe, Associate Professor of Information. “The work we do is informed by data we have available,” said Teplovs regarding the expansion and use of data ecology for personalized education. Rachel Niemer, Director of Digital Pedagogy & Learning Communities at DEI, and Barry Fishman, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Learning Technologies, presented on how and what people are learning in order to discover approaches that encourage learners to take risks and to incorporate cognitive learning outcomes. “The most important thing in learning is taking a risk in order to go someplace new,” said Professor Fishman on supporting students to take intellectual risks to deepen their learning experience. Additionally, Tim McKay, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Education, presented on the Ethics and Privacy panel with Sol Berman, University Privacy Officer, and Paul Robinson, Associate Vice Provost and University Registrar, to discuss the balance of promoting transparency on an institutional level while protecting student privacy. “To build a really good class you need to understand where your students come from,” said Professor McKay on using learning analytics to improve the educational experience for students. Professor McKay added that student data collection assists educational institutions to pivot away from an industrialized 20th-century style of teaching that is designed for a generalized student profile and enables a 21st-century style focused on personalized learning at scale.

Participants watching presentation on projector

During afternoon sessions, workshops provided intensive and specific hands-on learning including the use of realistic datasets provided by U-M. Workshops focused on data visualization, multimodal learning, feature engineering, wearable and affective computing, topic modeling, at risk students, log analysis and social network analysis. From these workshops, groups came away with varying takeaways, which were presented to the entire conference during the closing reception. During these workshop presentations, groups covered how to leverage data to better understand the learning process (in both informal and formal settings), how to leverage theory and values to develop predictive values and how to gather and visualize contextual data in addition to the merging of different channels of data. Altogether, workshop participants came away with increased comprehension and a foundation for future exploration in learning analytics research.

Thank you to all who participated in this three-day conference focused on further progression within the field of learning analytics. With continued research and exploration of learning analytics, we can develop and leverage tools to form educational pathways for a diverse range of students through personalization at scale. We look forward to engaging and collaborating with conference attendees through future events and educational initiatives. Continue to stay informed of upcoming events and new learning analytics opportunities by following DEI on Twitter at @UMichDEI and subscribing for email updates.

To view the highlighted talks from the conference:  

LASI Day One Speakers

LASI Day Two Speakers

LASI Day 3 Speakers (1 of 2)

LASI Day 3 Speakers (2 of 2)


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