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Educause 2014… briefly reflecting on the insights, discussions and a great experience

Arunn Ramadoss

Spending 3 days at the Educause Annual conference is definitely one way of getting to know the landscape of HE in the US. If the scale does not overwhelm you, the breadth and depth of topics and knowledge certainly will!

Educause offers up everything one would hope for in a good conference. Choice of sessions, opportunities to network and a great showcase of exhibitors. Lot of my focus was on the teaching and learning topics, and there was plenty on offer. Learning Analytics was a hot topic, especially as institutions are under increasing pressure to predict at risk students and support them. Adaptive Learning was another major theme. Several institutions are actively experimenting with both, with an aim to improve student success rate.

There were some really nice infographics on display at the venue, based on the ECAR report. The stats reflected an interesting gap between strategic initiative and appetite vs. practice of leveraging Learning Analytics, which was also evident from many sessions and discussions.

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The other graphic below lends itself nicely to explain some of the motivation behind the pursuit of Adaptive Learning.

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I spent some very valuable time with the people from the Educause Learning Initiative(ELI). Malcolm and Veronica are doing some very interesting work with its members. There are certainly many parallels between the issues they are trying to address for their members and the popular themes at ALT here in the UK. I feel there is much both these organisations could learn from each other. I hope the future will see them collaborate and benefit from each others experience. The ELI 2015 Annual meeting is to take place in February at Anaheim, CA.

We attended several fantastic sessions. Over a 3 days conference, these add up quite quickly! So, I will briefly pick my favourite, which came at the end of day 2 from Samuel Van Horne at the University of Iowa. Sam’s session titled “Assessment with Learning Analytics: Combining Multiple sources of data to support student learning with educational technology“, really intrigued me and was every bit as interactive as his synopsis promised. He presented some of compelling work he had done in analysing the type of Learning Analytics generated from student e-textbook use. He made you stop and think what the data points about time-spent, engagement and highlighting really meant. He had also used a combination of periodic surveys to students to compare against the data he was getting from the e-textbook platform. Sam showcased a fine example of a framework he had created to work with a vendor to ask the right questions and get the right data to really assess the impact of technology on teaching and learning at his school.

I am really looking forward to carrying on with several conversations that were started at Educause. I would like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to speak to me and answer several of my questions during the 3 days.

Did you attend Educause too? What were your biggest take aways?

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