The past five years have seen a dramatic growth in interest in the emerging field of Learning Analytics (LA), and particularly in the potential the field holds to address major challenges facing education. However, much of the work in the learning analytics landscape today is closed in nature, small in scale, tool- or software-centric, and relatively disconnected from other LA initiatives. This lack of collaboration, openness, and system integration often leads to fragmentation where learning data cannot be aggregated across different sources, institutions only have the option to implement "closed" systems, and cross disciplinary research opportunities are limited. Beyond the immediate concerns this fragmentation creates for educators and learners, a closed approach dramatically limits our ability to build upon successes, learn from failures and move beyond the "pockets of excellence (and failures)? approach that typifies much of the educational technology landscape.
The potential benefits of openness as a core value within the learning analytics community are numerous. Learning initiatives could be informed by large scale research projects. Open-source software, such as dashboards and analytics engines, could be available free of licensing costs and easily enhanced by others, and OERs could become more personalized to match learners' needs. Open data sets and reproducible papers could rapidly spread understanding of analytical approaches, enabling secondary analysis and comparison across research projects. To realize this future, leaders within the learning analytics, open technologies (software, standards, etc.), open research (open data, open predictive models, etc.) and open learning (OER, MOOCs, etc.) fields have established a "network of practice" aimed at connecting subject matter experts, projects, organizations and companies working in these domains. As an initial organizing event, these leaders organized an Open Learning Analytics (OLA) Summit directly following the 2014 Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) conference this past March as means to further the goal of establishing "openness' as a core value of the larger learning analytics movement. Additional details on the Summit and those involved can be found at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11754343.htm.
This panel session will bring together several thought leaders from the Open Learning Analytics community who participated in the Summit to facilitate an interactive dialog with attendees on the intersection of learning analytics and open learning, open technologies, open data, and open research. The presenters represent a broad range of experience with institutional analytics projects, an open source development consortium, the sharing of open learner data, and academic research on open learning environments.