Giving Voice to Stakeholders in Learning Analytics Design

With the rapid growth of Learning Analytics as an applied research field and commercial market, we’re also seeing systems failing to make the impact hoped for. Not surprisingly, it turns out that data scientists and programmers don’t necessarily understand educators’ and learners’ needs, or how they will use software.

This sparked a growing recognition that the field needs to listen more carefully to their user community. This needs to start at inception of a new project, not merely to evaluate usability after much of the system is locked in. In my experience, many projects neglect the importance of having learners and teachers collaborate in the design process of their tools. For example, a new dashboard to measure students’ engagement with an LMS looks different for admin staff than what learners want to see. It’s a challenge to include learners and teachers during the whole design process but having the right tools and techniques will help people to at least have a voice in what they need. In this blog, I introduce some of the tools and techniques that can be adopted/adapted from other design fields, that help give non-technical stakeholders a real voice in design meetings.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

The Challenge of Participatory Design and Co-Design in Education

Researchers find that engaging stakeholders in active collaboration is a bigger challenge than expected. For example, due to the need for bigger interdisciplinary teams where non-technical people such as learners and teachers must communicate with developers and data scientists. Practical, validated tools and practices from established fields such as Participatory Design and Co-Design can enhance collaboration during each stage in the design process.  The learning analytic design shares many similarities with a software development process. Learners communicate what they want, and developers translate this into useful features (Prieto-Alvarez, Martinez-maldonado & Buckingham Shum, 2018).

Over the past few years, we explored the use of co-design approaches in learning analytics to tackle pervasive problems in the design of any interactive software system. These include power relationships (e.g. between learners and teachers), and expertise asymmetries (not only in computing knowledge but also in disciplinary knowledge). In addition to these, learning analytics raises surveillance concerns.

Read the full post for applications and examples. These illustrate how co-design tools and techniques can be used to engage learners and teachers in the design process of Learning analytics, while generating better understanding of the distinctive challenges of the field.

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