Handbook of Learning Analytics

Chapter 17

Institutional Analytics

Leah P. Macfadyen


Since its emergence, the field of learning analytics has proposed that educational institutions can and should make better use of learner data to optimize learning and learning environments. A range of social, political and economic forces have also encouraged educational institutions to consider system-wide implementations of learning analytics. In spite of a decade of optimism and interest, however, very few examples of effective institutional LA implementation exist, and evidence of positive impact on learning is sparse. This chapter provides an updated summary of the growing body of literature exploring the challenges of making systemic change with LA in complex educational contexts. Proposed frameworks for guiding institutional LA implementations are reviewed, and work describing use of the most promising – the SHEILA framework – is outlined in more detail. The need for attention to complexity leadership and institutional logics is noted as a focus of recent work, and emerging issues are highlighted: a critical need to expand the literature documenting evidence of real impact on learning, a need for institutions to make use of reliable LA evaluation strategies, and the need for critical consideration of how and if LA can also benefit learners beyond the traditional higher education contexts of the wealthy North.

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