There are easier ways to start using analytics and reporting tools in your Moodle course than others. our official recommendation? Go lean. It might sound like a Silicon Valley buzzword, but some of its principles are long-standing. This is especially true when we forget about tech and lingo and focus on what matters: Insight.
Gaining an enlightened point of view about the phenomena, which in this case is learning. In a way, agile learning approaches are not really distant from the approaches the most famous detectives have applied, especially in fiction. In short: Define a mystery, and then build the puzzle using analytics.
Having a ‘mystery,’ or any name you want to give to your goal also prevents many common newbie mistakes in analytics practice. It is surprisingly easy to measure the wrong thing and get unnecessarily worried or triumphant about a number.
There’s also the regrettably common statistical sin of not having a baseline that allows you to pinpoint the effects of a learning intervention with certainty. Then there’s the misdoing of ‘vanity analytics‘: The understandable (to a point) tendency to only focus on the numbers that make us look good, to the point of forgetting we had a goal in the first place.
At the end of the day, data must take you to a place of better understanding. Only if you know how to create content and manage a course better, can you claim analytics are providing ‘validated learning.’ Otherwise, it might very well be all vanity.
What Can ‘Lean’ Do for My Learning Analytics?
In a word: feedback. In a few more words, feedback that integrates to your continuous process of exploration and identification around your goal. Lean approaches sacrifice certain aspects of a more systematic and scientifically rigorous method, all in the name of faster implementations as a result, and flexibility of the process.
You should still be as methodical (another keyword is ‘reproducible‘) as possible, but up to the point that you gain learning that influences your practice. You should adopt a theoretical framework that supports the path of your quest, but a lean approach makes it easier for you to switch them up if you hit a ‘plateau‘ in your discovery roadmap.
‘Lean‘ also implies that every part of the process is susceptible or can be revised, even the end goal itself. Every new iteration of the ‘Build – Measure – Learn‘ loop is an opportunity to tweak certain things, track metrics again and get going. Of course, you should wait before the iteration ends and make the changes before the new one starts.
If you are building a lean analytics feedback loop in Moodle, you should keep in mind that:
- There are still a few key elements and tools that you should set up before the first iteration. Get started with a simple Learning Analytics set up that you can refine over time.
- Make metrics an essential part of the learning process, but don’t tie yourself down to anyone in particular. If you find a way to double the time your students spent logged in, don’t celebrate. Instead, ask yourself: What now?
- ‘Lean‘ approaches can be conflated with radical, or even subversive ways to try things, which is not always desirable in standardized education contexts. Just tread lightly and be mindful.
- It is actually difficult that ‘Lean‘ does not lead to enhancements throughout your process. But even if you don’t, or they are not significant enough for you, don’t give up just yet.
A systematic collection of data should help others figure out what does not work and might save them some effort. The worst case scenario is not failing to find success, but not having systematic evidence about the outcome – whichever it is.
Let us know what you think.