Personal Learning Analytics – Helping Learners with Their Own Data

Generally, the use of data and analytics in workplace learning is reserved for a small group senior people. Naturally, learning analytics can provide a lot of value for that group. For instance, data-driven approaches to training needs analysis and measuring corporate learning are quickly gaining ground out of the need to prove the impact of workplace learning initiatives. However, there could be further use cases for those analytical powers. One of them is helping the learners themselves with personal learning analytics.

What is ‘personal learning analytics’?

Like the title may give away, personal learning analytics is just that: individualised information made available to the learner. The major difference with conventional “managerial” analytics is that most of the information is about the learner in question. Whenever that’s not the case, the information of others would always be anonymised. A few exceptions could include e.g. gamification elements which display user names and achievements. So, effectively, it’s all about giving the user access to his/her own data and anonymised “averages”.

How can we use personal analytics to help learners?

One of the challenges in conventional approaches to workplace learning is that the process is not very transparent. Often, the organisation controls the information, and the learners may not even gain access. However, a lot of this information could help the learners. Here are a few examples.

  • Comparing performance against others. While cutthroat competition is probably not a good idea, and learners don’t necessarily want others to know how they fared, they can still benefit from being able to compare their performance against the groups. Hence, they’ll know if they’re falling behind and know to adjust their effort/seek new approaches.
  • Understanding the individual learning process. All of us would benefit greatly from information about how we learn. For instance, how have we progressed, how are we developing as well as how and when do we engage with learning. Luckily, personal learning analytics could tell us about all of that. The former helps to keep us motivated, while the latter helps us to identify patterns and create habits of existing behaviour.
  • Access to one’s learning history. We are learning all the time and all kinds of things. However, we are not necessarily very good at keeping track ourselves. If we just could pull all that data into one place, we could have a real-time view into what we have learned in the past. Potentially, this could enable us to identify new skills and capabilities – something that the organisation would likely be interested in too.

Towards self-regulated learning

Across the globe, organisations are striving to become more agile in their learning. One key success factor for such transformation is the move towards more self-regulated learning. However, achieving that is going to be difficult without slightly more democratised information.

If the learners don’t know how they are doing, they cannot really self-regulate effectively. And no, test scores, completion statistics and annual performance reviews are not enough. Learning is happening on a daily basis and the flow of information and feedback should be continuous. Thankfully, the technology to provide this sort of individual learning analytics and personalised dashboards is already available. For instance, xAPI and Learning Record Stores (LRS) enable us to store and retrieve this type of “big learning data” and make it available to the learners. Some tools even provide handy out-of-the-box dashboards.

On a final note, we do acknowledge that the immediate applications of “managerial” learning analytics likely provide greater initial value to any given organisation. And if you’re not already employing learning analytics to support your L&D decision making, you should start. However, once we go beyond that stage, providing access to personal learning analytics may be a good next step that also helps to facilitate a more modern learning culture in the organisation.

If you’re eager about learning analytics, whether on an organisational or personal level, but think you need help in figuring out what to do, we can help. Just drop us a note here, and let’s solve problems together.

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