The message emerging from this week's University of Maryland University College (UMUC) Learner Analytics Summit (#innovatelearning) was explicit and to the point: Forward thinking instititutions are stepping up to opportunities for improving post-secondary experiences for students using data to inform proactive, evidence-based decision-making.
No doubt, we all hope that the answers to questions we can't sometimes even articulate yet are going to emerge from dashboards and apps, fully formed, as if from the Magic 8-Ball. Sadly this is not the way things work. We need to build capacity for decision-making in a data-informed world just as much as we need to figure out the exo-structure required for systems to interoperate and for intelligence to be shared.
Matt Pistilli (Purdue University) tweeted one of the great tweets of the event when he noted that "the data do not speak for themselves. I have, in fact, been in the room with them, and they did not speak a word #innovatelearning". It's a great reminder that if we are going to get anywhere quickly on this journey, we are going to need to be the ones driving the bus on learner anaytics adoption and creating organizational cultures of evidence-based decision-making.
Malcolm Gladwell has talked about tipping points, those moments when a new practice or innovation, idea or trend emerges into public consciousness. Learner analytics are at the point of tipping into public consiciousness in the war on student loss.
Congratulations to Karen Vignare and her team for convening us, to Bill Moses and the Kresge Foundation for the means to do so, a high-five to Linda Baer for her guiding hand, and thanks to all the presenters and participants for helping us start figuring out how to drive the learner analytics bus, on the journey toward Evidence-Based Decision Land. (Cue unicorns, bluebirds and rainbows.)