Learning analytics: challenges and limitations



Wilson A, Watson C, Thompson TL, Drew V & Doyle S (2017) Learning analytics: challenges and limitations. Teaching in Higher Education, 22 (8), pp. 991-1007.

Learning analytic implementations are increasingly being included in learning management systems in higher education. We lay out some concerns with the way learning analytics – both data and algorithms – are often presented within an unproblematized Big Data discourse. We describe some potential problems with the often implicit assumptions about learning and learners – and indeed the tendency not to theorize learning explicitly – that underpin such implementations. Finally, we describe an attempt to devise our own analytics, grounded in a sociomaterial conception of learning. We use the data obtained to suggest that the relationships between learning and the digital traces left by participants in online learning are far from trivial, and that any analytics that relies on these as proxies for learning tends towards a behaviorist evaluation of learning processes.

Learning analytics; Big Data; sociomaterial; professional learning

Teaching in Higher Education: Volume 22, Issue 8

Publication date31/12/2017
Publication date online24/05/2017
Date accepted by journal10/05/2017
PublisherTaylor and Francis

People (3)


Dr Valerie Drew

Dr Valerie Drew

Lecturer in Education Leadership, Education

Dr Terrie-Lynn Thompson

Dr Terrie-Lynn Thompson

Senior Lecturer, Education

Professor Cate Watson

Professor Cate Watson

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences