I’d been thinking early this morning about writing up a blog post around some thoughts about ‘Library Analytics’ and thinking that it was interesting how ‘Library Analytics’ had been used by Harvard for their ‘Library analytics toolkit’ and by others as a way of talking about web analytics, but that neither really seemed to me to quite be analagous to the way that the Learning Analytics community, such as Solar, view analytics. There are several definitions about Learning Analytics. This one from Educause’s 7 things you should know about first-generation learning analytics:
Learning analytics (LA) applies the model of analytics to the specific goal of improving learning outcomes. LA collects and analyzes the “digital breadcrumbs” that students leave as they interact with various computer systems to look for correlations between those activities and learning outcomes. The type of data gathered varies by institution and by application, but in general it includes information about the frequency with which students access online materials or the results of assessments from student exercises and activities conducted online. Learning analytics tools can track far more data than an instructor can alone, and at their best, LA applications can identify factors that are unexpectedly associated with student learning and course completion.
Much of the library interest in analytics seems to me to have mainly been about using activity data to understand user behaviour and make service improvements, but I’m increasingly of the view that whilst that is important, it is only half the story. One of the areas that interests me about both learning analytics and activity data, is the empowering potential of that data as a tool for the user, rather than the lecturer or librarian, to find out interesting things about their behaviour, or get suggested actions or activities, and essentially to be able to make better choices. And that seems to be the key – just as reviews and ratings are helping people being informed consumers, with sites like Trip Advisor then we should be building library systems that help our users to be informed library consumers.
So it was great to see the announcement of the JiscLAMP project this morning http://infteam.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2013/02/01/jisc-lamp-shedding-light-on-library-data-and-metrics/ announcing the Library Analytics and Metrics project and talking about delivering a prototype shared library analytics service for UK academic libraries. I was particularly interested to see that the plan is to develop some use-cases for the data and great that Ben Showers shared some of the vision behind the idea. It’s a great first step to put data on a solid, consistent and sustainable basis, and should build a good platform to be able to exploit that vast reservoir of library data.