Monday, November 18, 2019

Analytics for Lifelong Learning

Simon Buckingham Shum,
UTS Connected Intelligence Centre
Greetings from the Marie Reay Teaching Centre, at the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Simon Buckingham Shum from the UTS Connected Intelligence Centre, is presenting a seminar on "Analytics for Lifelong Learning Competencies: Aligning Pedagogy, Human-Centred Design & University Strategy". He presented a hierarchy starting with the student focus, then learning design, ending with the organizational view. I suggest a few more layers are needed, for the industry/discipline view, national view, and international. University educators need to think about what is good not just for the student and the institution, but more widely outside.

Professor Buckingham Shum showed examples of tools to assist nurses in a clinical setting, students learning reflective writing and more traditional academic writing. However, I was a little skeptical as the examples all seemed to be for very narrowly focused STEM discipline learning. If you are teaching students how to do a specific task in a well-defined job, in a standardized regulated discipline, such as medicine, engineering or computing, then using analytics is relatively easy.  However, there was then an example of helping law students with writing an argument, undertaken with Dr Philippa Ryan, who is now at ANU.  But Dr Ryan is not your average non-STEM academic (she was on the ACS Blockchain Committee with me). Can university academics who are experts in research aspects of their discipline, and are not experts in computing, analytics, or education, cope with this?

As Professor Buckingham Shum pointed out, it would not be very useful to bolt a sophisticated analytics system onto old fashioned education.   system. Also, few of those involved in university education will have all the skills in the discipline, analytics, and education. An exception is some in the computing discipline, where analytics is part of their discipline, and they have training in education. His suggested solution is something like the UTS Connected Intelligence Centre.

One practical outcome could be that the UTS AcaWriter software tool for academic and reflective writing could be further developed by ANU's TechLauncher computing project students, for teaching reflection.

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