What’s the Problem with Learning Analytics?
This article summarizes some emerging concerns as learning analytics become implemented throughout education. The article takes a sociotechnical perspective — positioning learning analytics as shaped by a range of social, cultural, political, and economic factors. In this manner, various concerns are outlined regarding the propensity of learning analytics to entrench and deepen the status quo, disempower and disenfranchise vulnerable groups, and further subjugate public education to the profit-led machinations of the burgeoning “data economy.” In light of these charges, the article briefly considers some possible areas of change. These include the design of analytics applications that are more open and accessible, that offer genuine control and oversight to users, and that better reflect students’ lived reality. The article also considers ways of rethinking the political economy of the learning analytics industry. Above all, learning analytics researchers need to begin talking more openly about the values and politics of data-driven analytics technologies as they are implemented along mass lines throughout school and university contexts.
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