What is a Learning Analyst?

As we continue to learn more about how learners learn, an exciting field as emerged in the form of learning analytics. A learning analyst uses technology and data analysis to gather details about student interactions and activities.

The History of Learning Analytics

With the advancement of online learning, and the connection of online tools in traditional courses, a digital footprint is created throughout a student’s matriculation through their field of study. These footprints make up the data used in learning analysis. By comparing and studying this large amount of data, with the use of data mining and business intelligence software, an analyst is able to define what processes are successful and what kinds of activities can be adjusted or removed from current programs.

The Need for Learning Analytics

According to Jisc, an early identification of at-risk students is a common goal among universities that have implemented learning analytics into their review of student success. The study concludes that assessing the behavior of successful learners can aid in the assistance to students that are not thriving at the school. Using the tools available to determine what actions may have caused success, counselors are able to recommend actions that will increase their performance. Teachers are able to monitor the performance of their students throughout a module or lecture and determine areas that may be too difficult or lose the students’ attention.

The Learning Analyst

As a participant in the process of students gaining knowledge and creating a more educated society, the learning analyst has an important role to play. In addition to analytical thinking and the technical aspects of the position, the learning analyst must be able to effectively communicate results and suggestions to the stakeholders involved, including school administration, faculty, and students in some cases. Designing visual representation of findings is just a part of contributing to the improvements that are recommended. According to the Cognitive Studies at Columbia University Teachers College, the learning analyst also has to be able to understand how the end user is going to perceive the data.

Variations of Learning Analysts

Working with college advisors to determine needs of students, the learning analyst position has already expanded to include specific kinds of analysis. Social learning analysts have begun to tackle the specific needs of students related to their personal interactions with other students, faculty, and college staff. The goal of this review is not to approach the student from an academic perspective, but to look at the whole student and how to improve college activities and communications based on the students’ social interactions. Other types of industries have started using learning and development analysts, including retail and communications firms, to review their internal training and development departments.

Related Resource: Educational Leadership

The future holds promise for improving teaching methods due to the improvement of data collecting and analysis. The more we learn about how people learn, the more need we have for learning analysts that can compile, interpret, and communicate that information to the faculty and staff.