Ah, La La Land – where everything is possible, nothing relates to the real world, and life is completely deranged. Most of us would think that the La in La La Land stands for the craziness of Los Angeles, or, if you work in government, Local Authority. But if your concerns are with education, it seems like there’s something even more wild and wacky to worry about – Learning Analytics.
So what are Learning Analytics? Apparently:
Learning analytics is 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.
So, to get the basic idea, just think about Amazon and the way it cleverly keeps a record of all the books and DVDs you’ve ever browsed and then sends you completely inappropriate recommendations for things you might like. Except Learning Analytics seems poised to go just a bit further than that…
Introducing the ALP – the ‘Adaptive Learning Platform’.
Knewton’s software “analyzes students’ performance on practice questions and recommends tutorials based on the student’s answers. Knewton optimizes learning by focusing only on the areas that students need to improve. The software determines subject areas at a granular level. it doesn’t just know whether you need improvement in algebra. It knows specifically whether you’re having trouble with, for example, quadratic equations.” According to COO David Liu, an afternoon of studying can give Knewton 100,000 – 150,000 data points about the student – such as how long it takes them to answer questions or what time of day they learn best.
And, of course, the system can go further than that, because it can also accurately predict what your performance will be in the future. A bit along the lines of “Based on your current performance you have a 0% chance of getting into Oxbridge”.
Here’s some more gobbledegook, from recent coverage in no lesser a publication than the Financial Times:
And don’t think it stops at the learners – ultimately this technology can be used to track teachers, managers and administrators.
Anyway, not to worry, you can’t see this coming to a school near you soon? Better think again:
Yes, you’ve guessed it, Schoolnet is another Learning Analytics company.
Learning Analytics is just what your typical politician has been dreaming about for years – at last, a reliable way to gather data in order to measure value for money in education!
At a time when we’re all anticipating and working towards an education appropriate for the 21st Century that utilises the freedom of the World Wide Web to learn how to learn for oneself, it’s alarming to think that coming up fast on the rails is an educational control tool beyond all imaginable previous control mechanisms, subverting our understanding of ‘personalised learning’ into its own quality-controlled, mass-produced, impersonalised education system that perpetuates the myth that knowledge is King: “I know something you don’t and I have analysed how to get you there down to the smallest nanometer and now technology lets me measure you in infinitely microscopic blinks so that if you deviate from the predetermined track even by a millionth of an atom we can nudge you back and make sure you all come out exactly the same shape and size.”
My own personal on-board predictive analytic tool tells me I’m 100% sure I don’t like the sound of Learning Analytics one little bit!