Sorry for the gap in posts over the last week. Funny how work gets in the way of blogging. I’ve been visiting some universities in Québec to catch up on e-learning in Canada’s francophone world, and I am also working on a contract for the design of a virtual university in Mexico. More on this later.

Howitt, C. (2012) Desire2Learn partners with IBM on e-learning Guelph, April 13

This announcement caught my eye, as it suggests a move to link big data and big data analysis directly into online learning. It is just an announcement at this stage of an agreement to work together on developing predictive analytics for online learning. This seems to be a move beyond just trawling through the student information system and LMS to building predictive models of online behaviour.

Watch this space for more discussion about learning analytics. I have a number of questions about who is designing the algorithims and the questions they are intended to answer, what assumptions are driving the design, who has access to the data, what rights students and instructors will have, and how institutions plan to use analytics from online teaching. However, I need some time to do this, so expect something later next month.


  1. This is an interesting development – and represents the missing piece of the puzzle for a lot of the acquisitions in the human resources/talent management sector: Unifying data from HR, training and performance evaluation to understand the organization’s human assets, and where they need strengthening.

  2. Thanks for the post. It looks interesting but I remain unconvinced while even universities with mandatory minimum online policies continue to make minimal use of their LMS. My estimate is between 5 and 10% of courses (units or subjects) in such institutions create meaningful learning learning environments in their LMS.

  3. Predictive analytics is likely the next new thing. I met with several colleagues this weekend who are attending the AERA (American Education Research Association) conference being held in Vancouver this year: 15,000 attendees.

    I was amazed by the number of people who used the term ‘predictive analysis’, even by qualitative educational researchers. The Gates Foundation is funding a big project on predictive analysis, as are many others.

    The for-profit online universities are using this as a big selling point: they can predict who will pass, etc. etc.

    Learning analytics has been born overnight, from something that is a powerful teaching and learning opportunity to become ‘predictive analytics’, a marketing tool.

    Predictive analytics, from what I have gathered is linked with test scores.


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