Learning analytics: Opportunities and dilemmas

‘As higher education increasingly moves to online and digital learning spaces, we have access not only to greater volumes of student data, but also to increasingly fine-grained and nuanced data’ (Prinsloo & Slade, 2017).

This session provides an introduction to learning analytics. Paul shares how this data is being used by institutions for a range of purposes and stakeholders, as well as some of the implications and ethics involved in doing so. Some universities in Africa are wondering whether or not to invest the time and resources in learning analytics, how best to make use of and how to collect it. Others are already making use of it institutionally or in specific contexts rather than at an institutional level. Paul will discuss some of his recent research, including how uses of learning analytics unfolded at South Africa’s largest open distance education provider.   

The webinar encourages us to engage with the following questions:

  • Is bigger data better data? What evidence can such data provide and what are some of the shortcomings?
  • What are some of the ethical dilemmas involved in uses of student data?
  • Is the hype over learning analytics based on idealism rather than reality? How can we move beyond the hype of learning analytics?
  • Are lessons learnt from the global north about uses of learning analytics a useful starting point for educators in African Higher Education? What do we adopt and where do we adapt?

The session is presented by Paul Prinsloo who is a Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa (Unisa). His academic background includes fields as diverse as theology, art history, business management, online learning, and religious studies. Paul is an established researcher and has published numerous articles in the fields of teaching and learning, student success in distance education contexts, learning analytics, and curriculum development. His current research focuses on the collection, analysis and use of student data in learning analytics, graduate supervision and digital identity. Paul was born curious and in trouble. Nothing has changed since then. He blogs at  and his Twitter alias is @14prinsp



Thursday, May 4, 2017 -
13:00 to 14:00

Online event.

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Contact Information: 

Nicola Pallitt

ext 1842