Handbook of Learning Analytics

Chapter 1

What is learning analytics

Charles Lang, Alyssa Friend Wise, Agathe Merceron, Dragan Gašević, & George Siemens


Over the last ten years learning analytics (LA) has grown from a hypothetical future into a concrete field of inquiry and a global community of researchers and practitioners. Although the LA space may appear sprawling and complex, there are some clear through-lines that the new student or interested practitioner can use as entry points. Four of these are presented in this chapter, 1. LA as a concern or problem to be solved, 2. LA as an opportunity, 3. LA as field of inquiry and 4. the researchers and practitioners that make up the LA community. These four ways of understanding LA and its associated constructs, technologies, domains and history can hopefully provide a launch pad not only for the other chapters in this handbook but the world of LA in general. A world that, although large, is open to all who hold an interest in data and learning and the complexities that follow from the combination of the two.

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