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The Next Steps for Analytics on Campus

Earlier this year we wrote about the value of analytics as institutions sought to adjust and respond to the impact of the pandemic in the delivery of learning. Since then, the community has continued to explore this question, and with the advent of the new school year it has become clear that the practical value of learning analytics has been unequivocally demonstrated, and the demand for analytics solutions and strategies on campus has moved from “something we should think about” to “something we need to do.” This means that the timing of several IMS initiatives couldn’t be better. With Caliper Analytics 1.2 expected to move to final Public status any day, the latest version of the analytics specification is ready to be released into the wild. This version includes several key updates and new profiles that will significantly enhance institutions’ ability to capture critical data about student interaction in the digital ecosystem. In particular, the new Tool Launch Profile allows you to capture and understand the utilization of learning tools in a centralized mechanism (for example, in your LMS or other learning platforms), requiring only a single sensor to be deployed, supporting your ability to answers questions like:

  • Which tools are launched the most/least?
  • Which courses are utilizing certain tools?
  • What student data is being passed to LTI tools?
  • Are there demographic variances or correlations between tool launches?

The last use case is a good example of the way that Caliper data can be combined with data from other sources­­—including other Caliper profiles, OneRoster and LIS, QTI, and the upcoming Edu-API and OpenVideo specifications—to more fully contextualize and understand the answers to the questions you need to ask. In addition to new profiles released in Caliper 1.2, the existing Tool Use Profile has been enhanced to provide both deeper insight into the details of individual tool usage in your environment, but also to work in greater concert with the new Tool Launch profile.

In an effort to explore the use and impact of analytics on campus in the age of COVID, the Learning Data and Analytics Innovation Leadership Network will resume its regular cadence of meetings. Going forward, the group will explore:

  • The creation of a “cookbook” of data elements to be used in initial learning analytics deployments, to help institutions that are just getting started
  • Tackle questions of data governance and work toward a definition of a set of best practices and principles
  • Investigate the feasibility of a reference implementation of an analytics infrastructure, in conjunction with Cloud service providers
  • Discuss how we as a community can shape the vendor conversation around Caliper, privacy, availability of data from solutions, among many other pressing topics.

Another major initiative emerging at IMS to help meet the demand for analytics solutions and guidance is the new Student Learning Data Model (SLDM).

The SLDM will provide deep insight and visualization into the structure and interrelationship of IMS specifications and how they can be orchestrated for maximum effectiveness, and longer-term will provide a mapping between the IMS data model and other industry data models. The SLDM will also include an analytics “lens” that will help the community understand how best to leverage data and entities across the IMS landscape to answer the questions they need to answer on campus.

So how can you benefit from all of this, and how can you help?

  • Talk to your edtech suppliers! Make sure they understand the requirements you have around analytics, and the ways in which adoption of Caliper and various profiles will help you, and them, more easily fulfill those requirements. And for your platform providers, make sure they have Tool Launch profile implementation on their roadmap
  • Join in the Learning Data and Analytics ILN! The community benefits from your voice and your involvement, and you benefit from collaboration with your peers.
  • Share your analytics needs and solutions with us! Can’t make the ILN? We still want to know what the focus of your analytics efforts on campus are, both topically (student engagement? equity and access? curriculum improvement?) and specific questions that are at the top of your wishlist. Many of you have shared the observation that, after years of inching forward, it feels like higher education is finally able to more broadly articulate the value of learning analytics to all the stakeholders on campus. IMS wants to help make analytics one more tool in your toolbox for student success.