What is Learning Analytics?

 | By 

Claned

Humans have been learning and instructing for a long time – millions of years worth of a long time! But it’s only recently in our long history of sharing and gathering knowledge that we’ve had the tools and capacity to fully understand and improve both of these processes. 

Learning analytics is an important next step in this journey. And at Claned, we think it has the potential to completely alter how learning will be perceived and measured for years to come. But casting aside its impact on learning tomorrow, learning analytics is already making progress in learning today. It is already transforming the ways in which modern learning initiatives of all kinds are built, analysed, and executed.

So if you’re an organisation looking to launch online trainings, upskilling courses or learning programs of any kind, it’s time to get familiar with the incredible world of learning analytics. Let’s show you around!

So What Exactly is Learning Analytics?

During the first International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK) held back in 2011, the field of Learning Analytics came to be defined as:

“The measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.”

Now, it might be a wordy definition, but it captures well the wide scope of possibilities that exist within the realm of learning analytics.

Most people hear the term ‘learning analytics’ and have an inkling that it deals with the process of collecting data about learners and learning experiences, which is true. But there is far more to it than that. 

Every learning program has a host of information to offer. From the amount of time that people spend on assessments, to the types of content they find most appealing, to the impact a course has on learners’ behaviour thereafter, every learning experience is a treasure trove of knowledge. 

With learning analytics, this knowledge can be harnessed to delve into how learning works – or doesn’t work – and unveil previously untapped opportunities. 

Learning analytics essentially takes the enormous collection of information gathered from a learning program and turns it into concise, meaningful insights. These insights are crucial in helping course builders meet learning outcomes and make learning programs more effective for everyone involved. They are essential in helping organisations understand how their learning programs are faring, what could be improved, and how these programs impact the bottom line.

All in all, learning analytics is all about bringing together the best of two worlds: the world of learning (educational research and pedagogical strategies) and the realm of technology (data analytics & visualisation and artificial intelligence). Learning analytics builds on the years-long development made in both these disciplines to give new insights into how people learn and offer clear opportunities to boost the effectiveness of learning programs.

Learning analytics is also an excellent reason for your organisation to finally make that ‘big switch’ to online training programs. The more tech-aligned your learning program is, the more learning data there is to gather and make informed decisions with. And the more opportunities to make a meaningful difference in organisational performance! To know more about how to boost performance with the aid of learning analytics.

READ: Learning Analytics: How can you use it to improve performance?

What Effective Learning Analytics Looks Like

So to recap: online learning programs are a storehouse of information – heaps upon heaps of information about learning behaviour and learning experiences. The job of learning analytics is to be a brilliant tool that cuts through the noise and turns this heap of information into useful insights. Sounds great! 

Only catch? As learning analytics rises in popularity, a variety of online learning platforms and products boast of it as a feature. But not all of them offer insights of any real value.

Here’s what we mean. The Learning and Development department of an organisation is called upon to showcase the value and prove the efficacy of its various online training programs. It helps that the learning programs are being run online, because that means a variety of useful learning data can automatically be collected.

But then it comes to gleaning insights from the online training program. And all that the online learning platform has to offer them, in the name of learning analytics, are participation numbers and course completion rates. 

Limited learning data like this wastes a previous opportunity to collect insights about learner performance, improve the online training program, and measure the success of the program. Needless to say, it also disappoints the expectations of both the L&D department and the organisation.

For learning analytics to be truly effective, it needs to not only collect learning data but also identify which data points are relevant for you and your purposes. It should make intelligent connections and turn those data points into actual personalised insights. The best learning analytics in the industry goes a step further and offers direct, expert recommendations to help course builders and organisations choose their next steps carefully. 

How Deep is Your Learning Data? 

So, what lies beyond the world of participation and course completion statistics? How deep can learning data truly go? The short answer: as deep as you want it to be! The long answer? It depends entirely on the purpose you’re looking to fulfill or the problem you’re looking to solve. 

Looking to boost program effectiveness? Explore the areas of improvement in content and assessments. Want to get a sense of learner impact? Take a good look at engagement metrics and post-course learner feedback. These are just a handful of the insights that learning data can provide, as long as you know where to look and what to look for. 

Here’s a brief overview of the type of metrics typically covered in learning analytics:

Learning Data: Course and Content Level

The data insights available to you on a course and content level are crucial in helping you understand and improve the effectiveness of your learning program. 

These insights can help you make useful generalisations and identify, for instance, what type of content or assessment was the most popular among learners. But they can also delve deeper, such as helping you figure out exactly how much time was spent on a specific piece of content or assessment, and what that means about learner preferences and behaviour. 

All this ultimately helps you make essential tweaks and rework the program to bring about the outcome and results you seek.

Here are a few examples of the essential course and content-related metrics that can help you develop a more effective learning program:

  • Most popular content – based on the number of views and completions
  • Views, completions and drop-off rates – for each individual piece of content and content type
  • Learner time spent – on each individual assessment and assessment type
  • Learner performance – tracking assessment scores, attempts and responses

But here’s the best part of measuring learning data in online trainings and learning programs. You don’t even need to wait around for an entire iteration to complete before making the necessary changes. 

With an online learning platform like Claned, you can track course and content metrics like these in real time! This allows you to identify issues early on, make quick changes on the go and adjust strategies right away. You can then watch the subsequent results of your efforts unfold right before your eyes and repeat the process as needed.

Learning Data: Program-Level

Let’s zoom out a little. If course and content level metrics help you get a closer look at the intricacies of your learning program, then program level metrics are all about the big picture.

They help you identify larger patterns or issues found across your learning program. Program-level metrics are also extremely crucial in determining the overall success of your program, focusing on elements like:

  • Learner engagement
  • Learner satisfaction and end-of-course feedback
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Post-learning learner performance 
  • Operational efficiency

Now, it goes without saying that if you are an organisation looking to build a training or learning program with a business goal in mind, these metrics will be invaluable for you. 

At the end of the day, when all the adjustments are made, the resources are spent and the learning programs have been successfully completed, these metrics often serve as the final judgment on your learning program’s success.

However, these metrics can often be trickier to parse than straightforward learning statistics. Which is why it helps to have someone on your team who can dig through the data for the insights that matter. And maybe even make recommendations to make choosing your next steps that much easier!

READ: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Building an Online Course

Conclusion: Learning Analytics at Claned

It’s hard to go platform-searching in the e-learning industry and find a product that does not boast of ‘learning analytics’ as a feature. But for us here at Claned, learning analytics has always been more than just a feature to flaunt. 

Since day one, learning analytics has been an essential component in our approach to online learning and one of the pillars on which we built our entire product. One of the reasons why learning is so valuable is that we can keep on gleaning insights from it and making it better the next time around. With learning analytics, these insights have become easier to gather than ever before in our long, long history of learning and instructing.

We believe it’s truly an exciting time for learning, particularly online learning. And by making learning analytics an integral part of all our learning programs, we make sure our clients get to be a part of this exciting time — and benefit from it, too. 

We offer real-time insights into live courses, deep data insights into every part of every program and smart recommendations on how to enhance program effectiveness. And because learning programs are almost always tied to a larger business outcome, we help you establish clear links between program success and your organisational goals from the very start.

Ready to launch an online course powered by Claned’s brilliant learning analytics? 

Reach out to us at sales@claned.com today!

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