On March 25, the “International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge 2020” (LAK20), will behold as a completely online format. The conference, joined by attendees across the world, is organised from Frankfurt am Main. Responding rapidly to the spread of the Coronavirus, the team of organisers has rescheduled and completely switched to a virtual conference. The event is the worldwide most significant forum for this discipline in digital education. Learning Analytics reflects the measurement and analysis of data from technology-based learning processes that are, for instance, gained in online courses or software tutorials. Learning is thus meant to be supported and optimized.

“Especially at an international level, Learning Analytics has been shown to have a relevant impact on education“, says Professor Dr. Hendrik Drachsler from DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education and the Goethe University Frankfurt, who has held a leading role in organizing the conference. DIPF and the University, together with Technical University (TU) Darmstadt, are hosting the LAK this year, which is operated by a German team for the first time. Drachsler explains that Learning Analytics is, for example, used to promote students in ongoing learning processes, or in setting up learner groups according to certain communication patterns which reveal insights into their collaborative needs. Drachsler is a computer scientist and Professor for Educational Technologies. He emphasizes the high relevance of data protection in the discipline: “The purpose of technology is solely to serve the learners’ needs.“ To promote exchange in this field the team of organisers have done their utmost to ensure that the conference can take place even in the current situation.

Conference in a virtual space

Professor Drachsler and the organisers have responded without delay and made sure that the conference, which was originally planned as a venue in Frankfurt am Main, can go online in a pioneering online format. Registered participants can, for example, dial into video conference rooms where live talks are broadcast from anywhere in the world. Moderated chats then offer an opportunity to pose and answer questions. Contributions are recorded, subject to contributors’ consent. It is thus possible to flexibly watch the videos. Posters and applications are also presented in purely virtual settings. The programme spans long periods of the day, to accommodate for participants across seven time zones. The team is confident that the format with its spatial independence and flexible timing also offers incentives for future conferences.

Thematically, the tenth LAK focuses on “shaping the future of the field”. The conference is held once a year at alternating venues, under the auspices of the international network “Society for Learning Analytics Research“(SoLAR). “Possible developmental lines will be traced for the next ten years and beyond. At the core, we will investigate ways of measuring learning and teaching and which insights can thus be gained, how they can be put to an optimal use and what needs to be considered regarding the different areas of implementation and scales of Learning Analytics”, Dr. Christoph Rensing from the TU Darmstadt illustrates, a co-organiser of the LAK in Frankfurt. Besides the general presentations, two keynotes are expected by international experts:

  • „Learning Analytics – A field on the verge of relevance? “

Prof. Dr. Shane Dawson, Director of the Teaching Innovation Unit, Co-Director of the Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning und Professor of Learning Analytics at the University of South Australia

  • „Group Learning Analytics“
    Prof. Dr. Milena Tsvetkova, Assistant Professor at the Department of Methodology at the London School of Economics and Political Science

The team of LAK organisers is acting in a regional environment where the benefits and forms of implementing Learning Analytics are already being intensively discussed for the higher education area. Professor Drachsler and Dr. Rensing have thus initiated an innovation forum, as part of the project “Digitally supported teaching and learning in Hesse“, funded by the federal state of Hesse. Subject to this project, eleven universities in the state are designing innovative concepts for university teachers and students.

Further information on the conference: https://lak20.solaresearch.org/