Numbers are not enough. Why e-learning analytics failed to inform an institutional strategic plan
Learning analytics offers higher education valuable insights that can inform strategic decision-making regarding resource allocation for educational excellence. Research demonstrates that learning management systems (LMSs) can increase student sense of community, support learning communities and enhance student engagement and success, and LMSs have therefore become core enterprise component in many universities. We were invited to undertake a current state analysis of enterprise LMS use in a large research-intensive university, to provide data to inform and guide an LMS review and strategic planning process. Using a new e-learning analytics platform, combined with data visualization and participant observation, we prepared a detailed snapshot of current LMS use patterns and trends and their relationship to student learning outcomes. This paper presents selected data from this "current state analysis" and comments on what it reveals about the comparative effectiveness of this institution's LMS integration in the service of learning and teaching. More critically, it discusses the reality that the institutional planning process was nonetheless dominated by technical concerns, and made little use of the intelligence revealed by the analytics process. To explain this phenomenon we consider theories of change management and resistance to innovation, and argue that to have meaningful impact, learning analytics proponents must also delve into the socio-technical sphere to ensure that learning analytics data are presented to those involved in strategic institutional planning in ways that have the power to motivate organizational adoption and cultural change.
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