Reporting back from the Learning Analytics Summer Institute in Zeist.

From the 30th June to the 1st of July, for two days events around Learning Analytics took place in Zeist. The event was co-located with the Computer Assisted Assessment conference.

{Author: Alan Berg – Innovation Work Group – ICTServices }

There was a lot of discussion, much knowledge dissemination and good humor. A smoldering discussion panel. Plans to change the universe (at least on paper) and tidal waves of coffee, sandwiches and information. Wow, I look forward to next year’s LASI-NL.


You can find materials for the event here:

One citizen reporters view of the event communicated here:

And you can find the schedule at this location:

Being part of the organization, presenting and delivering a workshop gave me a rather blurred image of how the days unfold. However, from what I can remember from randomly mixed up, coffee addled brain.


Day 1.

Dr. Stefan Mol & Dr. Gábor Kismihók delivered a fitting keynote speech on Overcoming Learning Analytics related barriers. The speakers mentioned the pressures of centrally organizing a plan against the bottom up approach. The constraints of ethical and legal barriers and the general and natural frictions you can expect from new idea’s diffusing into a large organization. Here is their presentation:

One of the most important points made was that the University of Amsterdam is building it’s own Learning Record Store ( to gain experience with collecting student activity streams. The plan is first to run a few small dashboard pilots and see if it is sensible to evolve to campus level services.

Next was Dr Hendrik Drachsler reporting back on stakeholder requirements and a method for gathering based on surveys.

After lunch there was a well received workshop by Dr Jereon Donkers. The audience were split into five groups and forced by bribery to work on the following question:

“Imagine you are organizing a MOOC on the subject of educational management for the second year now. In the MOOC participants are asked to cooperate in small-group discussions and do assignments together. Participants are professionals with a broad range of backgrounds and knowledge levels. The drop-out rate is too high and the participation in group-discussions is not optimal. You got some hints that participants would like the MOOC to better connect to their situation. How are you going to apply Learning Analytics to improve the design?”

Much paper was shed in the line of duty. The audience toiled with a happy background hum generating one power point presentation and four A3 papers full of symbols, devious plans and arrows. The day speed by.

Later there was a joint paper presentation with the CAA crew (or at least some of them) and then finally a mildly heated panel discussion where predictive models were scowled at. Mutters of ‘Not yet production ready’ were heard by this shocked author.

Note: I disagree with the statement about predictive models as I am working within the Apereo LAI initiative and as part of that initiative there is a predictive model framework for student failure. Review:

Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative:

Open Academic Analytics Initiative (OAAI):

Day 2

Day 2 started with a well considered and detailed presentation by Dr Ulrich Hope. For those of you that are interested, you can find the LeMo application at:

Next was a discussion about standards by Dr Hendrik Drachsler, Sander Latour and myself. Standards being important for the deployment of campus wide services. Standards help to avoid vendor lock in and supports cross validation of LA projects.

The schedule was eroded due to the popularity of the discussion on ethical, legal and security aspects of data generated by Hendrik vom Lehn. A great quote: ‘Analytics these days is not like Orwells’ 1984 rather Kafka’s The trial‘. Yes, we have to be careful with how we use analytics.

For 15 minutes we tried bravely to connect by video to the LASI Global in Harvard. Noise, echo’s and random images made the process surrealistic and very entertaining. After ten minutes of comedy we abandoned our attempt and moved onto my speed reading presentation on the Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative. Mentioning a detailed paper on the Open Academic Analytics Initiative (OAAI) at:

Finally, there was the statuary drinks. Resetting our minds ready for the next LASI. Phew, two great days!

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