Concepts need strong critiques. In discussing connectivism, for example, I’ve found critical comments from Plon Verhagen, Bill Kerr, Rita Kopp, Frances Bell, among others, to be very valuable.
Analytics in technology fields are growing in prominence, as revealed by distributed computing (Hadoop, MapReduce), techniques and methods (social network analysis, pattern detection, clustering, classification approaches, language analysis), tools (Gephi, R), open data (WorldBank, open government, OECD), and big data. These developments are increasing the attention devoted to analytics for use in business settings (business intelligence) and in learning and knowledge (the focus of our conference and this course).
Jacques Ellul’s Technological Society is the most effective critique I’ve encountered on the shortcomings (and dangers) of a technique-driven society. Technology instantiates technique. And technique rapidly encroaches in all areas of live (standards-based testing in education, citation analytics in higher education (see Thompson Reuters InCites initiates). If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t get attention or funding (yes, feel free to insert “that” Einstein quote about measurement and what counts into the comments).
Where are the critiques of analytics – particularly in relation to learning and education? This missing element was brought to the the forefront in our Friday wrap up conversation in Elluminate…and in a blog post by Martin Weller on the upcoming conference. Scott Leslie initiated a thread in the comments section dismissing learning analytics. I would prefer a substantive critique, rather than a general reaction to the concept, but Scott’s comment served to raise the profile (in my mind at least) of why we need to critique, not only explore favorably, learning and knowledge analytics. I’ve started a thread in the moodle forum – please drop in and voice your concerns with the concept of analytics as applied to learning.