5 responses to “Blackboard Connect: Exposed (Blog 7)”

  1. Leah Macfadyen

    Hi Bryan, not sure if you’ll have come across this discussion paper, but from my perspective it’s one of the best I know of in terms of considering the ethical issues and dilemmas regarding use of data (in all directions). Worth a read!

    Slade, S., & Prinsloo, P. (2013). Learning analytics: Ethical issues and dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10), 1510-1529 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0002764213479366

  2. Leah Macfadyen

    Hi Bryan, it’s interesting to read about your first encounter with Blackboard data. I think it’s important to note, though, that what you’re actually complaining about is Blackboard (ie ‘Connect’) and what *they* are calling ‘learning analytics’ (and I agree that there’s lots to complain about). Actual ‘learning analytics’ as a field of research and implementation goes far beyond learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard products, and may not involve LMS data at all. It encompasses many different kinds of data, intentions and analytic approaches. And much of it is still actively at the research and prototype stage. What Blackboard (the company) packages up as ‘learning analytics’ and flogs to educational institutions, and the claims they make about its reliability, accuracy, potential and uses, are a bit of a black box (no pun intended) and to the best of my knowledge not supported by any robust published research.

    If you’d like to explore the wider field of learning analytics, join us at the annual Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference (LAK17), hosted in March by SFU: http://lak17.solaresearch.org/

    You might even find some Blackboard folks hanging around whom you can pitch your arguments to directly.


  3. Anne Coustalin

    Hi Bryan,
    Thank you for sharing this. I agree that the data can be very misleading. I think, for the most part though, that instructors are aware of that fact and use the data cautiously. I believe there is a place for learning analytics and that their potential should not be disregarded.The solution here is not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” as it were. The best and most obvious solution, seems to me, to simply give all stakeholders the same access to the same data. That way, if a student looks at their data and feels it misrepresents their performance, they can make contact with their instructor. Similarly, if an instructor is concerned a student’s engagement with the course is diminishing off, they can make contact with the student. If nothing else, it opens the door to communication.

    With the current distribution of access to data, there is the undeniable potential for instructors to misconstrue the data and use the data as the basis for unfair grades but if we could all access the data, we could use it to inform and empower our learning (as students), inform and enhance our instruction and assessment (as instructors) and identify problems with the analytics and suggest solutions (as a community).

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