The types and amount of data available that describes the learner and how they interact in the educational context is increasing. Learning analytics represent the application of analysis to “big data” to try to understand and address educational challenges. The potential exists for analytics to guide learners, educators, administrators, and funders in making learning-related decisions. The broad promise of analytics is that new insights can be gained from in-depth analysis of the data trails left by individuals in their interactions with each other, with information or content, and with technology. The collection and analysis of this data might inform the learner themselves with actionable suggestions about how to improve their understanding of a problem or concept, the instructor by guiding their interactions with issues unique to the individual learner or common to a class, with the learning scientists trying to model the learning process, or administrators interested in policies and processes that support measurable learning outcomes. The SoLAR Southern Flare Conference (SSFC) introduces the potential of learning analytics to practitioners, academics, researchers, administrators, and anyone interested in learner centred data driven practices.
The use of “big data” to address challenges in higher education requires ideas for collaboration, development, implementation, scaling, and promulgation. At the SSFC, you will have the opportunity to learn and to share your ideas about the different facets of this emerging field, including the ethical issues involved, and useful technologies to collect, analyse, model, visualize and leverage learning analytics to understand and improve the learning process.