The 2019 CiTEL Learning Analytics Symposium, held on 31 May and 1 June in CiTEL at LHC, was truly ground-breaking in the sector. When the idea of holding a Symposium, dedicated to the use of data in student learning, was first mooted we knew it would be an ambitious undertaking, but it was almost a necessity. At Lourdes Hill College we are committed to working at the cutting edge of teaching practice. While we are relatively advanced with our ICT systems and the use of data to inform teaching practice and improve student learning, like many, we were also struggling to find connections to other schools and educators who are using data in similar ways and from whom we could learn. We wanted access to people with vision who could guide us, and to learn from other classroom teachers who are making a difference to student learning with their use of data. The obvious choice, therefore, was to find the experts and others who are working in the field of data analytics and to bring them together, from across Australia, for two days – and to share the experience with as many people as we could. Thus began the journey towards the 2019 CiTEL Learning Analytics Symposium.
The Symposium brought together over 100 educators from across SE Queensland, north and far north Queensland, Victoria, NSW, South Australia and WA. Representatives came from many sectors. There were tertiary researchers and lecturers; Secondary school curriculum leaders, ICT leaders, strategic specialists and classroom teachers and providers of software systems that are integral to supporting the use of data and learning analytics for student learning. The common bond being a stake in learning analytics and the need to find out more about the use of data and educational analytics to inform their practice. The carefully curated programme included presentations from some of the leaders, the ‘movers and shakers’, in the field. There are many highlights from the programme and just a few key messages are shared here. Our keynote speakers gave vision, insight, hindsight and a dose of reality about the use of data in the field of learning analytics.
In his keynote address, Professor Shane Dawson (Director of the Teaching Innovation Unit and Professor of Learning Analytics, University of South Australia) shared broad-ranging experience from his tertiary sector research and gave insights into cutting-edge projects happening in the secondary sector. Gaming-It, Intelligent Tutoring systems and data mining and the Zone of Optimal Confusion were some key thoughts emerging. Systems that identify effective learning strategies and pathway towards enabling personalised feedback will be a growing area to be watching into the future.
“How are you using data to improve learning at your school? Lessons learned from how systems, schools and teachers work with data such as NAPLAN to improve student learning.” This was the challenge thrown out by keynote speaker Professor Joy Cumming (Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education at ACU). This included insights from the 2018 Queensland NAPLAN Review (link to report) and provided the background for healthy discussions and sharing of practice in the Showcase presentations and Round Table discussions.
Jesus Comacho-Morles’ (Analytics for Schools/University of Melbourne) presentation went some way towards answering the question; “How do we come up with assessment schemes that tell teacher and school leaders in regular and systematic ways the impact they have on student learning?” He shared his Learning Growth Estimator tool, NAPLAN version and shed light on the understanding of effect sizes.
The pre-Symposium workshops offered by specialists and practitioners in learning technology systems offered participants a unique opportunity for learning about the application of a range of systems which can be used to enhance student learning through the use of data learning analytics systems. These included Education Perfect, TrackOne Studio, Reflex Technology Group and Pivot Professional Learning consultants. Dr Bronwyn Hinz (Pivot PL) helped to unpack the question; “Why does student voice matter?” and gave insights into using student perception data to build individual and collective teacher efficacy and student voice. Phillip Budd (TrackOne Studio) explored “A whole-school approach to developing a data culture” that included the useful “8 Steps to a data-driven culture”. A common theme emerging across the two days was that the uptake by teachers of learning analytics and effective use of data in their teaching is more than about a simple implementation process, but it requires a deep cultural change. Teachers now face adding a new role to their already broad skill set – as data analysts.
The organisers would like to thank all the delegates for their active involvement and willingness to share practice. One aim of the Symposium was to generate interest in developing an informal community of practice to continue the networking and collegial discussions. Through the post-symposium survey, participants were given the opportunity to express interest in continuing the collegial connections and to build a network around data analytics.
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