LASI 2014 Workshop (Monday)

Learning Analytics for the Social Media Age

Learning Analytics for the Social Media Age

Anatoliy Gruzd, Dalhousie University

Caroline Haythornthwaite, University of British Columbia

Drew Paulin, University of British Columbia

Rafa Absar, University of British Columbia


In just a short period of time, social media have altered many aspects of our daily lives, from how we form and maintain social relationships to how we discover, access and share information online. Now social media are also affecting how we teach and learn. In this workshop, we discuss methods that can help researchers and educators evaluate and understand the observed and potential use of social media for teaching and learning based on content and network analyses of social media texts and networks.

This workshop will be composed of the presentation of brief introductions and instructions by the speakers, followed by a heavily hands-on component providing instructions and examples of use of a free web-based network analysis tool called Netlytic. The two halves of the workshop will focus on two types of analysis: i) content analysis and ii) social network analysis. Using Netlytic, workshop participants will work in groups to analyze and discuss a twitter dataset from a cMOOC class. This data sample comes from the first phase of the five-year research initiative “Learning Analytics for the Social Media Age” funded by the Social Science and Humanites Research Council of Canada (2013-2018). The data provide a test case of learning data for the workshop.

To prepare for this workshop, please create an account on and bring your own laptop to the workshop.


Anatoliy Gruzd is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Management at Dalhousie University, Canada. He is also the Director of the Social Media Lab, a member of the Institute for Big Data Analytics at Dalhousie University and a co-editor of a new, multidisciplinary journal on Big Data and Society published by Sage. This year, Dr. Gruzd is co-organizing the 2014 Social Media & Society Conference and co-editing a special issue on Measuring Influence in Social Media for American Behavioral Scientist. The broad aim of Dr. Gruzd’s various research initiatives is to provide decision makers with additional knowledge and insights into the behaviours and relationships of online network members, and to understand how these interpersonal connections influence our personal choices and actions. His research and commentaries have been reported across Canada and internationally in various mass media outlets such as Foreign Affairs, Los Angeles Times,, The Atlantic, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and The Canadian Press.

Caroline Haythornthwaite is Director and Professor, School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, The iSchool at The University of British Columbia, and a founding member of the Society for Learning Analytics Research. Her research includes empirical and theoretical work on the development and nature of networks, crowds and communities online, the transformative effects of the Internet on learning practices, and analytics of networks and learning. Current initiatives address the role of social media in learning and information exchange. Major publications include  the Handbook of E-learning Research (2007; second edition in preparation), and E-learning Theory and Practice (2011, with Richard Andrews). Further information can be found on her website

Drew Paulin is a doctoral student at The iSchool at The University of British Columbia. His research focuses on E-learning, learning analytics, learning networks, and peer-generated approaches to online learning. Drew is also the Manager of Learning Design and Innovation at The Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia, where he is responsible for exploring and integrating improved instructional and learning design strategies at the course and program level, with a particular emphasis on innovative approaches to participatory and collaborative learning. Drew was recently a finalist for the IMS Global Learning Impact Award for his work in implementing and evaluating an adaptive e-learning platform at The Sauder School of Business.

Rafa Absar is a post-doctoral researcher at The iSchool at The University of British Columbia working on the the five-year research initiative “Learning Analytics for the Social Media Age” funded by the Social Science and Humanites Research Council of Canada (2013-2018) with Caroline Haythornthwaite and Anatoliy Gruzd. She is currently working on extracting and analyzing learning data from cMOOC courses to understand the impact of social media use on learning. She completed her doctoral work at the School of Information Studies, McGill University, after which she worked as a lecturer at the iSchool. Besides learning analytics and social media research, her other research interests lie in human-computer interaction, specifically on user experience and engagement with various kinds of information technologies and systems.


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