A Day of Talks with Handful of Spaces Still Available to Join a Conversation with Professor Paul Prinsloo

unnamedOn the 8th April 2019 the NIDL is hosting a number of events. The first is an all-day Learning Design Cross Institutional Network, a professional network which is led by Simon Walker, Head of Educational Development at Greenwich University. As part of this event Gabi Witthaus will give a talk on:

“Knowledge Exchange on Open and Distance Learning for Refugees in Higher Education”

This session is very appropriate given that Dublin City University (DCU) was Ireland’s first University of Sanctuary and continues to develop both online and campus-based initiatives for refugees and asylum seekers. Unfortunately at this stage the all-day workshop is full but we do have a handful of spaces still available for this follow up event.

NIDL Visiting Scholar Series

Paul Prinsloo.jpgWe are delighted that in the early evening on April 8th Professor Paul Prinsloo from University of South Africa (UNISA) has agreed to give a talk on the topical issue of using student data. Paul is a Research Professor in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in the College of Economic and Management Sciences at UNISA. His academic background includes fields as diverse as theology, art history, business management, online learning, and religious studies. His current research focuses on the collection, analysis and use of student data in learning analytics, graduate supervision and digital identity.

Title: Using Student Data to Inform Design and Pedagogy: Some Pointers


Higher education has always collected, analysed and used student data for a variety of purposes e.g., reporting, strategic planning and operational resource allocation. Due to the increasing digitisation and institutionalisation of online learning, as well as advances in technology, analytics tools and software, higher education institutions now have access to more (volume) student data than ever before. We also have access to more nuanced data (granularity and variety) as well as the increasing possibility to collect real-time behavioural data and provide feedback and intervene in real-time. The year 2011 saw the emergence of learning analytics “the measurement, collection, analysis and use of student data for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.” Since 2011, learning analytics as research focus but also as field of practice matured and continue to provoke discussions and research pertaining to its impact not only on student success and retention, but increasingly also in shaping resource allocation, learning design and pedagogy. While evidence of the impact of learning analytics on improving student success is varied and often context-specific, there is increasing interest how student data can be used to inform learning design and pedagogy. In this presentation I would like to provoke some discussion surrounding some of our assumptions pertaining to student data before mapping evidence of how student data can inform learning design and pedagogy. I hope to conclude by locating the collection, analysis and use of student data to inform learning design and pedagogy in the nexus of ethics, responsibility and care.

Where: Q303/Q304 Business School, Dublin City University, Glasnevin Campus

When: 5:30pm Monday, 8th April 2019, followed by networking and light refreshments


As the number of seats available for Paul’s talk is limited and to assist us with catering requirements, it is essential that you register for this event. There will be a wait list should additional seats become available. Click on the following link to meet Paul and join us for this talk…


New NIDL Small


Methodological Issues in Learning Analytics: Critical Insights and Reflections

By Professor Mark Brown

This brief opinion paper raises a number of conceptual and methodological issues associated with attempts to evaluate institutional initiatives in the area of learning analytics. It frames the discussion around three recent works that invite a more critical reading of learning analytics research and the potential of interventions and data-driven decisions for successful, sustainable and scalable impact on an institution-wide basis.

Firstly, the emerging field of Learning Analytics would benefit from more critical engagement with some of the points raised by Paul Kirschner (2016) in his keynote at the 6th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK16). More specifically, Kirschner warns that naïve understandings of learning and narrow conceptions of learning analytics may potentially do a lot of harm.

digital-388075_960_720More recently Kirschner and Neelen (2017) argue that many so-called learning analytics initiatives: (i) view education as a simple process that is easily modelled; (ii) base decisions and interventions on data rich but weak theory; (iii) inform decisions and interventions based on wrong or even invalid variables; (iv) make interpretations and arrive at conclusions that confuse correlations with causality; and (v) result in unintended and unwanted effects that pigeonhole and stereotype learners which may be counterproductive to enhancing student engagement and learner success. Arguably, to date there has not been a serious or comprehensive response to these justifiable concerns.

You can read more of this opinion piece on the ICDE website where the full version of this paper was first published as part of the two-day ICDE Leadership Summit in May 2017 in Nancy, France.