Chris J Powell

Learning Analytics – The Future or Just Hype?

Hot off my return from the ASTD Tech Knowledge Conference in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, I have been giving a lot of thought to this interesting new concept that will eventually affect everyone who is in school, taking a training course online or having to sit through your company’s latest round of PowerPoint driven manditory training from a local trainer.


The Wikipedia Definition of this emerging “trend” has Learning Analytics defined as  “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs”.  Ok so we now collect and look at data about learners…but where do we get such information?

The reality is, that ability is still in its infancy with a new form of data Collection that looks at the Learner’s Experience and can be embedded in from what I understand and what I have been experimenting with…nearly any interaction using the Tin Can API (aka xAPI).  I did some poking around at the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and it seems to be a growing thread that to make Training and Development (and Education as a whole) better, we need to see what is happening with those who are learning.

I remember more than a few lesson plans in High School and College that had me completely disengaged because I had already read ahead in the text book or had learned the exact same thing in another class so this new way of interacting with, and building educational material may have a dramatic effect on how knowledge is transferred in the future.

If we look back to some other ways that better analytics have been applied to our lives (like leveraging Google Analytics to improve your web site traffic or a statistical analysis of a town or city that you are thinking about moving to – I noticed that a Beta Release of offers up this type of analysis for homes you are looking to purchase).

The use and collection of data for the improvement of Education and Training though comes from the use of embedded code in materials or actions that can be later analyzed for trends, improvements and deficiencies.  Over at there is a great walk through of how this emerging standard can assist in the building of a better learning environment for LMSes, Organizations or Activity Providers.

This is something that I am becoming more and more interested in and passionate about as I dive into my new role with a Training and Development Company.

Cheers for now,


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