Learning Analytics and New Scholarship: Now on the Technology Horizon
Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 26 October 2011
What’s On The Technology Horizon?
Tomorrow I’m giving a talk on “What’s on the Technology Horizon?” at the Internet Librarian International (ILI) 2011 conference. This talk is based on a “Technology Outlook: UK Higher Education” report commissioned by UKOLN and CETIS which explores the impact of emerging technologies on teaching, learning, research or information management in UK tertiary education over the next five years.
In a post entitled “I Predict A Riot”: Thoughts on Collective Intelligence” I described how “the report highlights Collective Intelligence as one emerging technology which is predicted to have an time-to-adoption horizon of 4-5 years“. Two areas which are expected to have a time-to-adoption horizon of 2-3 years are Learning Analytics and New Scholarship. I would agree that these areas are likely to have an impact on mainstream university activities before collective intelligence, but are these areas really 2-3 years away? It does seem to me that early adopters in these areas are already having an impact on the mainstream.
Dave Pattern, systems librarian in the Library at the University of Huddersfield, for example, is also giving a talk at the ILI 2011 conference about the JISC-funded Library Impact Data Project (LIDP). The slides Dave will be using, together with an accompanying handout, are available from the University of Huddersfield repository. In addition the slides are also available on Slideshare which, perhaps somewhat ironically, means that the slides are more interoperable, as they can be easily viewed on mobile devices such as an iPhone through Slideshare’s HTML5 interface and can be embedded on third party Web sites, such as this blog:
The talk will describe how “The project looked at the final degree classification of over 33,000 undergraduates, in particular the honours degree result they achieved and the library usage of each student” and explored the hypothesis “There is a statistically significant correlation across a number of universities between library activity data and student attainment‘.
If you want to know the findings of the project you may wish to view the slides, read the project blog or the various papers which have been published about this work including an article on “Looking for the link between library usage and student attainment” published in Ariadne in July 2011.
This project is one of several which have been funded under the JISC’s Activity Data Programme. These other projects are providing engagement and dissemination activities on the project blogs which includes:
- RISE – Recommendations Improve the Search Experience
- SALT – Surfacing the Academic Long Tail
- The Synthesis Project: Activity Data
- UCIAD – User-Centric Integration of Activity Data
It therefore does seem to me that we are seeing JISC project-funded activities which are helping to explore the relevance of, in this case, activity data related to student achievements and their use of library resources and that the findings are being made available to a wider audience through this contribution to the ILI 2011 conference. But what of New Scholarship?
The Technology Outlook report (PDF format) describes how:
Increasingly, scholars are beginning to employ methods unavailable to their counterparts of several years ago, including prepublication releases of their work, distribution through non-traditional channels, dynamic visualization of data and results, and new ways to conduct peer reviews using online collaboration. New forms of scholarship, including creative models of publication and non-traditional scholarly products, are evolving along with the changing process.
Some of these forms are very common — blogs and video clips, for instance — but academia has been slow to recognize and accept them. Proponents of these new forms argue that they serve a different purpose than traditional writing and research — a purpose that improves, rather than runs counter to, other kinds of scholarly work. Blogging scholars report that the forum for airing ideas and receiving comments from their colleagues helps them to hone their thinking and explore avenues they might otherwise have overlooked.
As we have seen from the above the library sector seems to be willing to make use of blogs in supporting scholarly activities. We can also see an example of pre-publication of scholarly work. Readers of this blog are also likely to be aware of ways in which Twitter is being much more readily accepted as a means of supporting a variety of educational and research activities, with a recent post on Les Carr’s Repository Man’s blog describing ways of Using EPrints Repositories to Collect Twitter Data.
Beyond the library and repository sector, as described in a post on Recognising, Appreciating, Measuring and Evaluating the Impact of Open Science the recent Science Online London 2011 conference provided an example of how scientific researchers are making use of open approaches which can be regarded as new scholarship and the Beyond Impact project, ”an Open Society Foundations funded project that aims to facilitate a conversation between researchers, their funders, and developers about what we mean by the “impact” of research and how we can make its measurement more reliable, more useful, and more accepted by the research community” is looking to ensure that appropriate ‘reward’ mechanisms can be provided for researchers who wish to engage in scientific research beyond the traditional publication of peer-reviewed papers.
In this post I am suggesting that both Learning Analytics and New Scholarship are moving beyond the early adopters and starting to be embraced by the mainstream. I also feel that the Open Access 2011 Week, which is taking place this week, provides a timely opportunity to welcome such developments since New Scholarship, in particular,often encourages use of blogs, Twitter and similar tools to work in a more open fashion and Learning Analytics can benefit from the provision of open, although also perhaps anonymised, data. I am looking forward to seeing the level of interest in these areas at participants at the ILI 2011 conference. But is my optimism misplaced? Åke Nygren is also speaking in the session on ”What’s on the Technology Horizon?” and, as can be seen from his slides which are also available on Slideshare and embedded below, he has a very different view to mine! Both of our slides are embedded below to make it easier to compare the contrasting visions.