At the recent Jisc Learning Analytics Community Event at Newman University in Birmingham I was a last minute addition to a panel discussing some topics in analytics. One question that was offered, was, will Curriculum Analytics merge with Learning Analytics?
A simple answer is yes.
Learning Analytics can be 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.”
In the same context then Curriculum Analytics could be defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the curriculum and the context, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.”
We might need to think how we define curriculum, but if you think of learning analytics as one side of learning, then curriculum analytics is the other.
Understanding that data may tell us a narrative about a learner, then without the data on the curriculum side, means that the whole picture isn’t clear. Not that data will ever likely to provide the whole picture.
If we think of curriculum as the design of the course, the activities undertaken, the subjects covered and how the learning is delivered.
Trying to figure out what this looks like from a data perspective is challenging.
Take something as simple as the lecture, that should be easy to define? Well…
What is a lecture? How long is a lecture? How many people are in that lecture? Where is the lecture? What time is the lecture? Where does that lecture fit into the day, the week, the semester? Is it in the first year of the degree course or later in the course?
We call many things a lecture, but for some people it will be a monologue, for some it will involve going through equations and proofs on a series of blackboard and for others it will not be just talking, but will include interactivity and engagement with the students. We know lectures vary across disciplines as well.
So if we find it challenging to define what at first appearances is a “simple” lecture then you can start to understand the challenges of defining the curriculum overall, such as tutorials, seminars, group work, labs, field work and so on…
Throw in digital as well, that adds another layer of complexity, is a webinar a lecture, what about lecture capture in all that as well.
Then could we incorporate self-study into the mix? Could we ever define informal learning in a curriculum analytics system?
So, will Curriculum Analytics merge with Learning Analytics?
The simple answer is yes, but it isn’t as easy as it may first appear.