What you need to know about Learning Analytics

What you need to know about Learning Analytics


From Session 2, CSU is introducing a Learning Analytics Code of Practice. The Code covers the types of information CSU might collect about you through online learning environments, and how your details are kept private and secure.

We caught up with Simon Welsh from the Student Learning team to find out more about what all this means for you.

What are Learning Analytics?

You may have noticed when you visit a website, the advertising seems to spookily reflect things that you are into. Or, if you’re shopping online, you just happen to find things that are of interest to you at the top of the page. That’s no accident.

All this occurs because those sites are able to use analytics on your online activity – they can tell where you’ve been, the sites you frequent, the things you’ve bought previously). Your online activity is coupled with any other personal profile information you have given them, then run through their algorithms to make predictions about you.

You may want to go and check the privacy settings on your web browser at this point!

Learning Analytics is like this – sort of.

In Learning Analyics, we capture data about your activity in CSU’s online learning environments, mainly Interact2. Rather than using that data to sell you stuff, we use it to help improve your learning experience. Learning Analytics are an important data source for us in enhancing the quality of learning and teaching at CSU.

Why does CSU need to collect this information?

In some ways, Learning Analytics are an attempt to approximate, for online learning, the kinds of rich observations a teacher can pick up in a classroom. They can see who might be struggling, whether their teaching approach is working, and whether their students are confused, frustrated, engaged or bored, and so on.

Research is now showing that the way students interact with online learning activities and tools can reveal a lot about the learning process.

These insights can be used to help us make improvements around:

  • the way we teach – by giving teaching staff “real time” evidence to reflect on and evaluate their strategies and designs
  • the support we provide – providing more personalised support and feedback tailored to your needs and situation
  • our online learning systems – making sure they support good learning and teaching practices.

With so many students connected to us by an internet cable, Learning Analytics gives us another way of understanding how your learning is progressing, and how we might be able to help that progression.

What happens to my personal information? Who can access it?

Learning Analytics is only one part of the personal information CSU holds about you. When you enrolled, you would have provided other details, such as your address. All personal information is governed by CSU’s Privacy Management Plan, which in turn reflects the NSW privacy laws. There are strict rules in the University about who can access what, under what circumstances, and how data is protected.

All these rules also apply to Learning Analytics.

To clarify this, we are launching a Learning Analytics Code of Practice. Under this Code, access to your Learning Analytics is limited to those with direct roles in:

  • supporting your learning and teaching, the management of your relationship with the University and/or the provision of technical support
  • undertaking research with appropriate ethical approvals and controls in place (including your consent).

What is the Learning Analytics Code of Practice?

It’s important to note that Learning Analytics does require us to draw on personal information, like the analytics and metadata from your interactions with our online learning tools, so it’s essential that we have specific privacy protections.

The Code of Practice defines how we will conduct Learning Analytics in an ethical and lawful way. It puts controls in place to ensure the benefits to you from Learning Analytics outweigh any impositions or risks.

From the start of Session 2, 2016, the Code of Practice becomes a formal policy of the University. This means all staff and students are governed by the Code. As a student, there’s nothing in particular you will need to do – just be aware of the Code and the rights it gives you.

Who can I contact to find out more?

A good first port of call is the CSU Learning Analytics website.

It contains all the documents referred to here, plus more details information on the analytics we use from within Interact2, and the processes for making complaints.

Still got questions? You can contact our team at: analytics@csu.edu.au

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