Dimensions, in learning analytics, are the ways we describe the (theoretical) space in which we’ll analyze… learning. I think of a given xAPI Profile as the technical instructions I want tools, systems and services to calibrate on for the way I need to make sense of the data. Yesterday, I shared a demo given of the forthcoming ADL xAPI Profile Server. Today, I step back to share a mental picture of how learning analytics can be framed.
In 2019, I collaborated with Judy Katz on some ideas for visualizing learning analytics strategy for the xAPI Camp @ Learning Solutions 2019. Judy and I each had our takes at the time on how we might frame the “space,” but with almost two years to reflect and multiple opportunities to put those ideas into practice, it’s abundantly clear how we each labeled the dimensions was less important than how we organized and measured similarly.
A simple way to think about learning analytics is that when we want to analyze learning, we look for information about:
- The Learner,
- The Learning Activity, and
- The Learning Experience
… and all of these analyzed over Time as a constant means of comparison.
Dimensions tend to stay affixed, once set. The trajectories along which we measure things likely will remain the same. Much investment of time and human capital is built on this framing, so before anyone codes anything, this model should be treated as something that can be revised, even tossed out, in favor of something better. The investment of time and effort in planning is minimal, no matter how long the process takes, compared to the costs of implementing the wrong learning analytics strategy.
Along each of these dimensions, I’d identify metrics. Metrics help to understand the dimension of learning I’m analyzing. For example, I might break a Learner dimension down into the type of Learner, or user, anticipated by the learning experience. If I’m developing a learning solution for practicing nurses, the “Learner” likely includes the “nurse” but may also include other roles, like a Nurse Preceptor or a Nurse Educator. A dimension like “Learner” should account for every type of participant.
Tomorrow, I’ll start diving into the ways I might break down those metrics more thoughtfully, related to the Learning Activity vs. the Learning Experience.