Do No Harm: A Balanced Approach to Vendor Relationships, Learning Analytics, and Higher Education
The field of learning analytics holds considerable promise for higher education, with reports of successful uses now emerging in selected institutions. At the same time, critics have expressed concerns regarding privacy, ethics, and intrusions into teachers’ pedagogy. Without attentive planning, higher-education professionals applying learning analytics may inadvertently undermine their institutions’ core teaching and learning missions. The authors offer a framework for moving forward with learning analytics, organized around three principles: (a) Institutions should take the lead in their conversations with vendors, emphasizing the distinctive values of higher education; (b) learning analytics data should be balanced with other forms of evidence that analytics cannot capture, especially participant experiences; and (c) successful implementations will leave room for adaptations by people on the ground—to notice what is working and integrate the tools into their practices. Only by empowering students, faculty, and staff can these tools fulfill their potential in higher education.
Keywords: higher education, learning analytics, student success, activity systems, advisor tools