Learning Analytics: The Next Big Thing in Education

Education has changed dramatically with the introduction of new technologies that allow students to learn in ways that were not possible a few years ago. From connecting students in remote areas to subject matter experts through video conferencing to allowing distance learning, students and teachers reap the benefits of a constantly changing education environment.

So what is next? There are companies in the EdTech space that are doing some very interesting work in learning analytics, which I believe is the next evolution for education.

Kate-W_HeadsetLearning analytics are not new in the technology space; Google has been using analytics to “learn its users” for some time.  What happens when these same kinds of analytics allow for teachers and students to create an environment where “school” learns the student instead of the student learning the “school”?  Several cutting edge companies are working on solutions that create a learning environment focused on students.

Take Dimensional Learning Solutions: by making online learning adaptive, this company is able to customize learning for an individual student to fit how they learn best. Traditionally online learning has been one-size-fits-all with limited ability to adapt to individual needs. I talked with Brian Talbott, founder and CEO of Dimensional Learning and he said that new research indicates that not only do students learn through different styles, but they learn different concepts through different learning styles. With analytics, educators can understand how a student is learning, and if they are running into problems, redirect them down a different path using an alternative learning style. Dimensional Learning Solutions provides customized feedback for both students and instructors and gives actionable insights.

Nervanix is another company making waves in learning analytics. According to Adam Hall, founder and CEO of Nervanix, the company is pioneering a concept called “attention adaptivity” which leverages attention data through EEG devices that monitor the brain while a student learns. This data helps to inform instruction and adapt to a learner’s style in real time. Nervanix recently launched its first product, Nervanix Clarity. It’s a headset designed for students that monitors their attention while studying material via a mobile device or computer. Students can look at the data to see how well they are studying and pinpoint sections they should revisit because they “zoned out.” Nervanix provides software that works as an extension for existing education products and services.

It is exciting to think about what education could look like with wide adoption of these technologies. But in order for these innovations to work, students and teachers must have access to reliable, high-speed broadband, regardless of their zip code. Without access to broadband, the learning gap will continue to grow in rural areas around the country, including parts of Alaska. As we move forward to the next phase of education, access for everyone is key.

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