Hacking Educational Data: open tools for techie-educators

Complementing many of the formally defined research projects and product development activities associated with the recent upsurge in activity around the notion of learning analytics, a hacker ethic of quick win (or at least, quick to try) activity is also flourishing around educational datasets, as well as datasets created informally around education related activity on open social networks.

In this workshop, I will review a variety of tools and techniques for capturing, organising, wrangling and analysing education related datasets, showing how we can appropriate freely available open IT tools to support the rapid trialling and prototyping of learning analytics related ideas that we might ordinarily expect would require developer expertise. The aim is to identify tools and data grabbing techniques which allow a rapid exploration of the space of what’s possible, without the requirement to spend months, weeks, days, or even hours in preliminary application development activity.

The workshop will offer an opportunity to see – and use – some of the tools that can provide the data enthusiast with heretofore unimaginable powers, or at least, the ability to grab and tidy data, and then generate interesting, novel, and rich data visualisations, without the need to hire a developer first. Tools covered may include, but surely will not be limited to: Gephi network visualisations, Shiny R applications, Google spreadsheet powered social media analyses and OpenRefine data gathering and reshaping techniques.

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