Updates From News Flashes

SoLAR launches new Learning Analytics Podcast!

The Society for Learning Analytics Research is proud to present a new series of Podcasts for our growing community!

The new series is titled, SoLAR Spotlight! SoLAR Spotlight will be a place where we discuss some big ideas and trends in research and practice of learning analytics.

The first episode features the current president of SoLAR, Professor Abelardo Pardo from the University of South Australia. Hope you enjoy it!

If you would like to share your thoughts on the content of our podcast or take a guess on the answer to the ‘Two Truths and One Lie’ game that we played in the podcast, please Tweet us using #solarspotlight.

New episodes will come every two months, so stay tuned!

To find the first episode, please visit: http://bit.ly/solarep1

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New discussion paper: The Ethics of Learning Analytics in Australian Higher Education

A new paper exploring the ethical issues related to Learning Analytics in the context of the Australian Higher Education sector has been published. The discussion of these issues has resonated in this community since its initial stages (see the keynote presentation at the 2018 edition of the International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge by Professor Neil Selwyn for an example). In our interaction with institutional stakeholders, we have detected the need to complement existing policies and frameworks with more precise deployment guidelines. This paper brings together numerous principles, frameworks, and studies proposed in the past and tries to distil concrete guidance with respect to seven key considerations. Although the paper is written in the context of the Australian Higher Education sector, its findings will have an easy translation to other contexts and for sure will contribute to cement these considerations as an intrinsic part of the field.

Read the full discussion paper at https://melbourne-cshe.unimelb.edu.au/research/research-projects/edutech/the-ethical-use-of-learning-analytics

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International Symposium on Evidence-Based Education through Learning Analytics at Kyoto University, Japan

On 22 March 2019, the team from Ogata Lab at University of Kyoto hosted the International Symposium on Evidence-Based Education through Learning Analytics. The event was attended by more than 300 delegates from industry and educational institutions from Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The event included keynote presentations from representatives of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, RIKEN (largest research institution in Japan), and the Society for Learning Analytics Research. In addition, the event included a panel discussion on how to utilize and apply education data that featured presentations from various researchers in the area. The session finished with the presentation of several case studies of the use of data to collect evidence of learning and how it is being used in current institutions.

The event was followed on 23 March by a workshop on Reading Behaviour Analytics in which researchers from several institutions shared their work on exploring how students make use of digital textbooks.

More details about the event at http://eds.let.media.kyoto-u.ac.jp/?page_id=851

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2019 SoLAR Executive Committee Nominees

We are pleased to present the following candidates as nominees for election to the SoLAR Executive:

Candidates for SoLAR Executive Member at Large
(10 Candidates, 6 Positions Available)

Sheridan Gentili, University of South Australia, Australia
Vitomir Kovanovic, University of South Australia, Australia
Anouschka van Leeuwen, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Zachary Pardos, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Sasha Poquet, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Maren Scheffel, Open University of the Netherlands
Craig Thompson, University of British Columbia, Canada
Yi-Shan Tsai, University of Edinburgh, UK
Jose Ruiperez-Valiente, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Lorenzo Vigentini, University of New South Wales, Australia

Candidates for SoLAR Executive Student Member
(3 Candidates, 1 Positions Available)

Shibani Antonette, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Sadia Nawaz, University of Melbourne, Australia
Quan Nguyen, Open University, UK

Candidates for SoLAR Executive Member at LargeCandidates for Student Member

Sheridan Gentili, University of South Australia, Australia

Sheridan Gentili, Australia

University of South Australia, Teaching Innovation Unit

Interest in Learning Analytics: Interested in exploring how learning and teaching tools / technology, through the use of learning analytics, can be used to improve the student experience and academic performance. More specially, I’m interested in exploring the learning and teaching experiences and behaviours that encourage high achieving students and those of average achieving students, with an aim to better inform our teaching practices to encourage student learning across all academic levels.

Biography: Sheridan Gentili is the Associate Director: Teaching Innovation Unit at the University of South Australia (commence in 2017). She has a Ph.D. in Physiology and a Graduate Diploma in Biostatistics. Sheridan’s research interests include exploring how learning and teaching tools / technology, through the use of learning analytics, can be used to improve the student experience and academic performance. The propensity of academic staff to use academic performance data as indicators of success is distal of earlier learning behaviours. Therefore, Sheridan is interested in exploring the impact that personalised feedback using real-time data of online learning behaviour has academic success. Specifically, her work focusses on exploring the learning and teaching experiences, and behaviours that encourage high achieving students and those of average achieving students, with an aim to better inform our teaching practices to encourage student learning cross all academic levels.

Vitomir Kovanovic, University of South Australia, Australia

Vitomir Kovanovic, Australia

University of South Australia

Interest in Learning Analytics: Learning analytics has a tremendous potential to improve our understanding of human learning and to advance the current educational practices. With the SOLAR’s pivotal role in the LA field, serving on the executive committee would be a fantastic opportunity for me to contribute to the broader LA community by engaging into some of SOLAR’s excellent initiatives. Specifically, I see an enormous potential of i) expanding current organisation of LASI events to the broader LA community, ii) improving regular and institutional members’ benefits, and iii) expanding support to doctoral students, and I would like to contribute to those goals actively.

Biography: I am a Research Fellow and Data Scientist at the University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia and visiting researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington, TX, USA. I also currently serve as an academic editor of PLOS ONE academic journal for education and pedagogy sections. Before my academic career, I worked for four years as a senior software engineer on developing large distributed information systems.
In November 2017, I completed my doctoral studies at the University of Edinburgh, UK, in which I examined the use of LMS trace data and learning analytics for improvement of inquiry-based online learning. I (co-)authored more than 50 publications on learning analytics, educational data mining, MOOCs, and educational technology. I also first-authored the paper that won LAK’15 best paper award and co-authored a best-paper nominee at LAK16 conference.
I am also an active member of the learning analytics community; I served as a local co-chair for the LAK’16 conference, web-chair for the L@S’16, program co-chair for the LWMOOCs’16 conference, and track-chair (big data and analytics) for IEEE TALE’18 conference. Finally, I also organised numerous workshops at LAK, LASI, and ALASI events and participated in a significant number of learning analytics initiatives.

Anouschka van Leeuwen, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Anouschka van Leeuwen, the Netherlands

Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Interest in Learning Analytics: All of my scientific work focuses on teacher decision making and the role of learning analytics in this process. My main interest is in how teachers make use of data about their learners, and my work focuses on a number of questions related to this issue. For example, how do teachers translate LA into pedagogical action? How can LA be presented to teachers in an accurate yet comprehendible way? Do LA help teachers make their diagnosis of their learners more accurate? Thus, I view LA as a valuable tool to support teaching and learning.

Short biography: Anouschka van Leeuwen studied Artificial Intelligence and Educational Sciences and finished her dissertation in 2015, which focused on teacher support of collaborative learning and how learning analytics may aid teachers to enhance their diagnosis and subsequent interventions. In 2015, she obtained a grant to perform a systematic review of the effect of teacher support on collaborative learning. In 2016, Anouschka obtained a Rubicon grant to further study the role of learning analytics in the form of teacher dashboards. She specifically focused on the process how teachers interpret information about students and what type of aid dashboards should offer to support accurate and in-depth teacher diagnosis of students’ behavior. Anouschka is currently employed at Utrecht University as assistant professor. Her research and teaching activities focus on the following topics: collaborative learning, learning analytics, teachers’ use of data, and blended learning. Her work has been presented at international conferences and has been published in international, peer reviewed journals.

Zachary Pardos, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Zachary Pardos, USA

University of California, Berkeley

Interest in Learning Analytics: Scaling sound pedagogical practice through theory and technology.
Biography: My research advances the technical and practical uses of big data and AI to better understand the nature and construction of knowledge in K-16. My current projects focus on increasing upward mobility in the California postsecondary system and using behavioral and semantic data to map out paths to cognitive and career achievement in K-16. I earned my PhD in Computer Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Funded by a National Science Foundation fellowship, I spent extensive time with K-12 educators and students working to integrate educational technology into the curriculum as a formative assessment tool. I have published 56 papers related to learning analytics and hold several academic leadership positions in the community, including posts as an editorial board member for the EDM and AIED journals, executive committee member for the Artificial Intelligence in Education Society, and program committee member for the 2018 education conferences; ICLS, ITS, LAK, AIED and L@S. In 2013, I completed a post-doc studying MOOCs at MIT CSAIL. At UC Berkeley, I hold an Assistant Professorship in Information and Education. I direct a research lab on Computational Approaches to Human Learning and teach courses on data mining and analytics, digital learning environments, and machine learning in education.

Sasha Poquet, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Sasha Poquet, Singapore

Institute for the Application of Learning Analytics and Educational Technology (ALSET), National University of Singapore

Interest in Learning Analytics: I view learning analytics as a negotiated space with potential to become more than a sum of the problems, methods and theories driven by diverse disciplines and stakeholders. My interest is to contribute to a community that negotiates and jointly defines learning analytics problems and solutions. As a SOLAR member, I want to strengthen feedback loops between the distributed Solar activities – from Solar-supported events, LASIs, SIGs, and members at large. My practitioner focus is on empowering educators in Asia to engage with learning analytics. Through my research I try to strengthen social sciences voice in the multivocality of our community.

Biography: Sasha Poquet is an early career researcher at the Institute for the Application of Learning Science and Educational Technology at the National University of Singapore. Her learning analytics agenda aims to advance understanding, evidence, and practices facilitating the impact of social factors in educational settings. Sasha approaches her research in learning networks as an experienced teacher and a social scientist. In her role at ALSET, she enjoys bridging educator track staff with academic domain experts and IT specialists. From 2017-2019, Sasha served on SOLAR Executive Committee, first as a student representative, and then as a treasurer. She received her PhD in Learning Analytics at the University of South Australia; an MA in Educational Sociology from Aarhus University, Denmark and Deusto University, Spain; and a BA in Education and Teacher Training in Ukraine.

Maren Scheffel, Open University of the Netherlands

Maren Scheffel, the Netherlands

Open University of the Netherlands

Interest in Learning Analytics: Doing research in the field of learning analytics to me means taking a holistic approach. I always try to look at things from different angles, e.g. teacher and learner side; technology and pedagogy; research and practice. Involving a wide range of stakeholders, using different methodologies, and gathering input from divers sources allows us to create a holistic view of the learning and teaching processes and provides us with the evidence of impact the field is looking for. Being part of SoLAR is a great way to engage with the community and to connect the different aspects of learning analytics.

Biography: Maren Scheffel is an assistant professor within the Technology Enhanced Learning Innovations (TELI) department of the Open University of the Netherlands’ Welten Institute, the Research Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology. With a background in computational linguistics she started to work in the field of technology-enhanced learning in 2009 and has since then been involved in the coordination and management as well as the research work of several European projects (e.g. LACE, SHEILA, CompetenSEA). For her PhD that she obtained from the OUNL in 2017, she developed the Evaluation Framework for Learning Analytics (EFLA). Next to progressing this work further, her research now also delves into the connection of learning analytics and learning design as well as dashboards for self-regulated learning support. Maren has been involved in the international TEL and LA community for many years. She has organised conferences and workshops and has served as a reviewer for journals and conferences on many occasions. She currently acts as one of the Programme Chairs of EC-TEL2019, is member of the editorial board of the Journal of Learning Analytics, of the SoLAR SIG LACE, of the SoLAR Inclusion Working Group, and is vice chair of the SURF SIG Learning Analytics.

Craig Thompson, University of British Columbia, Canada

Craig Thompson, Canada

University of British Columbia

Interest in Learning Analytics: I work with students, faculty and staff at UBC to transition tools from learning analytics research into practice and facilitate access to data and analytical techniques. I have helped organize learning analytics hackathons for students, most recently focused on use of the Canvas API. My research interests focus on using machine learning to predict student outcomes, and I have led workshops and tutorials at LAK and LASI on the topic. I am driven by a desire to empower students and educators with the skills and tools needed to access, make sense of, and act upon their own data.

Biography: Craig Thompson is a Research Analyst in the Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at the University of British Columbia. He currently works on UBC’s Learning Analytics Innovation Pilot project. The aim of this project is to introduce learning analytics into the regular teaching and learning practice of UBC to assist in evidence-informed decision making and action.

Prior to joining UBC, Craig worked at the University of Saskatchewan where he implemented several learning analytics projects, including a mass-personalized student advice platform, interactive visualizations of student enrolment and demographic data, and an early alert system to identify and assist students at risk.

Craig’s academic background is in machine learning, having earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Saskatchewan in 2011.

Yi-Shan Tsai, University of Edinburgh, UK

Yi-Shan Tsai, United Kingdom

University of Edinburgh

Interest in Learning Analytics: My research has primarily focused on policy and strategy development for the use of learning analytics in higher education. In particular, I am interested in enhancing learner agency in the implementation of learning analytics and bridging the gaps between different stakeholders in terms of their perceptions and expectations of learning analytics. I am also interested in leveraging storytelling elements in feedback communications.
Biography: Yi-Shan Tsai is a research associate in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, with an affiliation to the Centre for Research in Digital Education in the Moray House School of Education. She holds a PhD and an MPhil degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Her research interests span from learning analytics and educational policy to reading cultures and multimodal texts. She has worked on a number of large multinational research projects, which involve 17 different institutional and organisational partners in Europe and Latin America altogether. Prior to joining academia, she worked as a primary school teacher, a biographical author, and an editor. She has served as an assistant editor for the Journal of Trainee Teacher Education Research and a reviewer for a number of journals and conferences, including the International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (2018-2019), Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (2018), Journal of Learning Analytics (2018), and Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (2018).

Jose Ruiperez-Valiente, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Jose Ruiperez-Valiente, USA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Interest in Learning Analytics: José started working on learning analytics 6 years ago as part of his master thesis and has continued ever since. His PhD focused on visualization dashboards (he implemented ALAS-KA for Khan Academy and ANALYSE for Open edX), behavioral modeling (cheating, collaboration or gamification interest) and prediction of learning outcomes (learning gains and course completion) applied to MOOC environments. Currently, Jose’s research is focused on large scale MOOC analytics to differentiate between universal and context-dependent patterns and in applying learning analytics to game-based assessment environments for children.
Biography: José completed his BEng and MEng in Telecommunications at Universidad Católica de San Antonio de Murcia (UCAM) and Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) respectively, graduating in both cases at the top of his class. Afterwards, he completed his MSc and PhD in Telematics at UC3M while conducting research at Institute IMDEA Networks in the area of learning analytics and educational data mining. During this time, he completed two research stays of three months each, the first one at MIT and the second one at the University of Edinburgh. He has received over 10 academic and research awards and has published more than 30 scientific publications in journals and conferences of his area of research. Currently he is a postdoctoral associate at the CMS/W department at MIT where he is part of the Teaching Systems Lab and also collaborates with the Education Arcade in applying learning analytics to large scale free online courses and to game-based environments to enhance human knowledge on how we learn. http://joseruiperez.me/

Lorenzo Vigentini, University of New South Wales, Australia

Lorenzo Vigentini, Australia

University of New South Wales

Interest in Learning Analytics: I have been involved with learning analytics before it was known as LA, when the use of data in education was focusing on test performance and simple behavioural tracing. With an eclectic mix of expertise spanning from ‘soft’ to ‘hard’ disciplines, I believe that I represent the full range of disciplinary contributions in the field of LA. My work is multifaceted with contribution to dashboard development in on-campus and MOOCs, the use of data for educational evaluation and innovation, personalisation of feedback at scale and institutional deployment of ethical uses of student data.

Biography: Lorenzo is the Academic Lead Educational Intelligence and Analytics at UNSW Sydney based in the Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor Education. He has several years of experience in Higher Education and has a wide expertise in the development and implementation of IT/e-learning projects.
With a multidisciplinary background in psychology, education, research methodology, statistics, data mining and computing, he drives and supports a range of projects which involve the implementation of learning analytics, the evaluation of projects/initiatives and the development of novel technologies. His expertise is in learning processes at the crossing between cognitive and differential psychology, education and human-computer interaction. Lorenzo’s main interest is technology, its use, its evolution, its interaction with learning and the interface between human and machines (as well as physical interface between computer vision and brain activity monitoring) in both physical and virtual spaces.
Recent work includes the Australian OLT collaborative grant lead by Abelardo Pardo with 7 other institutions on the personalisation of feedback at scale and the development of the OnTask tool. He is a co-author of several chapters with active members of the LA community, including a chapter on video analytics with Negin Mirriahi in the Handbook of LA.

Shibani Antonette , University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Shibani Antonette, Australia

University of Technology Sydney

Interest in Learning Analytics: My research in learning analytics focuses on text analytics and its applications to support learning. In my doctoral research on writing analytics, I integrate automated feedback and learning design to improve student writing. My goal is to bridge the gap between the technical and the socio-pedagogical aspects of learning analytics for maximum impact. At LAK 2018, I was funded by SoLAR to participate in the Doctoral consortium, where I met many other junior scholars of the LA community. I understand what student needs are, and would like to give back to the community with my contributions in the executive team.

Biography: Shibani Antonette is a PhD candidate in Learning Analytics at the Connected Intelligence Centre, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia. With a background in computer science engineering, she is interested in developing applied technologies that can transform real-life practices, particularly in education. She previously worked as a research associate at the National Institute of Education, Singapore where she employed text mining techniques to measure teamwork in student chat and develop students’ teamwork competency in schools. Her current doctoral research is on the topic of ‘Writing Analytics’ to develop automated feedback for improving student writing in the higher education context.
Shibani has been involved in the international Learning Analytics community by presenting her work in three LAK conferences, and has participated in three Australian Learning Analytics Summer Institutes (A-LASI). She has chaired/co-chaired four workshops in LAK and A-LASI to build writing analytics literacy within the LA community. She has been awarded scholarships from UTS, SoLAR and APSCE (Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education) to present her doctoral research work. More information at: http://antonetteshibani.com/

Sadia Nawaz, University of Melbourne, Australia

Sadia Nawaz, Australia

University of Melbourne

Interest in Learning Analytics: I am an enthusiast researcher and highly interested in joining the SoLAR executive committee as it will provide me with networking opportunities. I will be able to get connected to the senior researchers in this area and be able to gain a first-hand experience on the decision-making process which is shaping the future of this field.
As for my research background, my current work focuses on students’ emotions in digital learning environments. Particularly, I am interested in identifying the LA based behavioural markers of confusion. I believe that, through this work we will be able to better understand students’ confusion and provide them with effective and timely interventions.

Biography: Sadia is a graduate student at the University of Melbourne (UoM). She is affiliated with the School of Computing and Information Systems (CIS) and the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE). She had been on the organising committee of Doctoral Colloquium 2018 and was able to accumulate more than 10K AUD through industrial sponsorships. She also won the Google best poster award at the colloquium. At UoM she had been also responsible for handling and processing Coursera back-end data.
Prior to joining the University of Melbourne, she worked as Data Management Consultant at Purdue University, USA from 2011 to 2013. She also received a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue in 2011.
Sadia is a mom of two adorable kids. In her spare time, she likes to teach Urdu and Scratch.

Quan Nguyen, Open University, UK

Quan Nguyen, United Kingdom

Open University, UK

Interest in Learning Analytics: I am interested in using learning analytics to support design for learning by examining how student behaviour aligns with learning activities designed by teachers. I am working toward providing actionable feedback to teachers such as identifying tricky concepts, procrastination patterns, and dropping out patterns as a result of learning design. I am an R-enthusiast and keen to learn more about new statistical/data mining techniques.

Biography: Quan Nguyen is currently a PhD candidate in Education Technology at the Open University UK (2016-2019) and working as an Associate Lecturer in Applied Statistics at University of Arts London. His work in connecting learning design with learning analytics received the best full paper award in LAK18, best paper award in HCII17, and was selected by SoLAR to present at the Alliance Best Paper session at the London Festival of Learning 2018, which gathered award-winning research from seven leading conferences in the field: L@S, EDM, AIED, ST&D, ISLS, EATEL, and SoLAR.
I want to contribute to the development of SoLAR as a welcoming, inclusive, and interdisciplinary community which values evidence-based approaches to enhance our understanding of teaching and learning in higher education, K12, postsecondary, and professional organisations.

Voting Information: All SoLAR individual and students members are eligible to vote for all positions. Links to access the online voting system will be sent to SoLAR members via email starting on January 11, 2019 (Eastern Time). Voting will end on January 25, 2019 at 11:59pm Eastern. All members who join SoLAR within that time frame will be eligible to vote and will receive a ballot after successfully joining SoLAR. Any questions, please email solarsocietymgmt@gmail.com

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SoLAR Executive Committee: Call for Nominations!

Interested in Guiding the Future of SoLAR?

Nominations are now open for six member at-large positions and one student member on the 2019 SoLAR Executive Committee. If you are interested in shaping and guiding how SoLAR continues to serve the growing learning analytics community please send a brief email to: nicole@solaresearch.org with the following information by 5:00 pm EDT January 4, 2019:

Interest in Learning Analytics (max 100 words)
Short biography (max 200 words)
Photo – jpg suitable for web (approximately 200×200)

Only those who have valid 2019 SoLAR memberships are eligible to nominate and vote for Executive Positions. To renew or join, visit: https://solaresearch.org/membership/


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Meet our Educational Committee!

We are proud to introduce our newly formed Educational Committee that is looking forward to proposal for learning analytics educational programs that are interested in a SoLAR in-coopertation status.

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Conference on Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics

Learning analytics holds great potential to address the challenges confronting higher education institutions. While the use of learning analytics has gained much attention and has been/is being adopted by many higher education institutions in Europe and the world, the maturity levels of higher education institutions in terms of being “student data informed” are only in the early stages. The SHEILA project set out to address this gap by developing a framework that will help higher education institutions to adopt learning analytics systemically.

We are proud to present Conference on Supporting Higher Education to Integrate Learning Analytics organized in-cooperation with SoLAR.

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2018 Inclusion Chair Nominees

We are pleased to present the following candidates as nominees for election to the SoLAR Executive. This individual will hold the position of the newly created Inclusion Chair role. All SoLAR individual and students members are eligible to vote for all positions. Links to access the online voting system will be sent to SoLAR members via SurveyMonkey to your email. Ballots will close on May 1, 2018 at 5:00pm Eastern Time. Any questions, please email solarsocietymgmt@gmail.com

Candidates for SoLAR Executive Member & Inclusion Chair
(9 Candidates, 1 Positions Available)


Golnaz Arastoopour Irgens, USA

Northwestern University

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair: The SoLAR Inclusion chair creates a supportive climate for marginalized and underrepresented groups in learning analytics research and cultivates diverse membership in terms of ethnicity, race, gender identification, geography, and disciplines. The chair is responsible for leading a working group, many of whom are members of underrepresented groups in learning analytics. To recruit members, the chair creates promotional materials that welcome and support all people, and she partners with inclusion committees at various research institutions. The chair also creates opportunities for purposeful dialogues on issues surrounding diversity and inclusion. She organizes special sessions at LAK/LASI and advocates for funding for those who are historically underrepresented in technology-oriented fields (such as white women, women of color, men of color, and first-generation college students) and for those conducting research on broadening participation. To implement these initiatives, the chair will collaborate closely with the SoLAR Executive Committee. To evaluate progress, she measures diversity growth in SoLAR and the impact of these initiatives using surveys and interviews. Overall, these initiatives will establish a culture where all SoLAR members feel empowered to freely express their viewpoints and will maximize the potential and contribution of all individuals, not just those who are highly represented.

Biography: Golnaz Arastoopour Irgens is a postdoctoral researcher with both the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling (CCL) and the Tangible Interaction Design and Learning (TIDAL) Lab at Northwestern University. While earning her B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, she worked as a computer science instructor and curriculum designer for Campus Middle School for Girls in Urbana, IL. She then earned her M.A. in mathematics education at Columbia University and taught mathematics in the Chicago Public School system for two years. Working with the Epistemic Games Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Golnaz focused her Ph.D. research on modeling and measuring connected design learning in engineering digital learning environments using discourse network analytics. Her current research examines the intersection of STEM practices and computational thinking and centers on how to model and measure computational practices and thinking.


Duygu Bektik, UK

The Open University

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair:
Over the last 10 years, I have been passionately involved in supporting the gender equity, particularly in the computing field. This “inclusion chair” position appears to be an ideal blend of my research in learning analytics (LA), and expertise in promoting gender diversity in the STEM. I am particularly impressed by the fact that the position is for working towards creating “ILIAC: Inclusive LearnIng Analytics Community” and making the LA research open to all age, gender, and ethnic groups to promote an inclusive environment. Inclusion in the context of SoLAR would refer to a broad range of socio-technical approaches that enable the participation of all LA researchers from across the disciplines while lowering and removing barriers that impede specific groups. As SoLAR Inclusion Chair, I would be particularly aiming to support young generations of LAK researchers, aka doctoral students, to aspire to and reach their full potential and be part of the LAK community and become the torchbearers of the LA field. To do so, potential work would include ensuring gender diverse doctoral consortiums, providing scholarship opportunities to female students whose work are accepted for presentation, designing a mentoring scheme to give career development opportunities and plug the information gap for students with no prior connection to SoLAR, and strategically targeting the diverse range of students not just from the computing/technology departments, but also across the disciplines including social sciences, and humanities, and building a reputation as SoLAR of choice for women scientists.

Dr Duygu Bektik is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Open University, UK’s Institute of Educational Technology. She did her undergaduate degree in Computer Science and Educational Technologies at the Bilkent University, Turkey, followed by a Software Engineering degree. She completed her Ph.D. degree in discourse-focused learning analytics in 2016 and has presented her research at various LAK conferences since 2012. She is a strong advocate for gender equity, especially in STEM subjects. She has been involved in several women in computing-related activities for the last 10 years, including events led by influential tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Previously, she worked for BILWIC, Bilkent ACM-W Student Chapter and Club for Women in Computing, as the Vice Chair for two years. BILWIC’s aim was to provide mentorship programs for female students in computing and support their technical needs through hands-on activities. The club aimed to provide role models for female students by organising seminars and conferences in order to bring students together with successful women in academic and business areas of computing. As part of BilWIC’s mission, Duygu worked to create a social environment for female university students with common interests, ambitions, and concerns while guiding them in the direction of computing-related fields. She currently works for the ACM-W Europe’s womENcourage conference as a member of the program committee and poster organisation chair.


Cassandra Colvin, Australia

Charles Sturt University

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair: If successful in my application for the Inclusion Chair, I would work closely with the SoLAR executive, and broader community to:
– Understand the diversity in the community – its make-up and profile – through the lenses of gender, age, culture, citizenship, discipline background – and other identity or categorical label members (and institutions) employ
– Explore relationships between these dimensions and member participation in the community
– Solicit from all members how they understand/perceive diversity ‘plays out’ in the community
– Analysis will employ (subject to approval) SoLAR data – member information and activity (research, participation in SoLAR events and so forth). Additional data will be solicited through focus groups, questionnaires
– In convening a working group (WG), effort will be made to ensure that it represents the diversity of its members. The WG will establish a Terms of Reference, and will report regularly to the SoLAR Executive
– Once the WG has understanding of how diversity and inclusion ‘plays out’, it can develop initiatives. These could include mentoring, targeting of particular cohorts in the community to offer specific support and prominence, developing incentives/rewards for ‘good practice’ in inclusion through the community, and consideration of bilingual offerings in some SoLAR events.
– Conversations and initiatives generated through this exercise would include all members. Inclusion (and exclusion) plays out across populations in multilayered, subtle ways, and demands an approach that recognises this, and does not bifurcate populations.

Biography: I am currently Manager, Adaptive Learning and Teaching Services at Charles Sturt University. In this role I provide strategic and operational leadership to the university on the design, implementation, and uptake of LA across the institution. Prior to this appointment I was Manager, Learning Analytics at University of South Australia.
My professional and academic experience has exposed me to many of the issues relating to equity and inclusion. Prior to working in LA-related roles, I spent 10 years managing transition and inclusion programs for international students at two separate universities. This was a privileged position, requiring me to build community relationships and structures to ensure that minority voice was protected, heard, and needs met. I provided counselling, advisory, and advocacy services to students from over 80 countries and liaised with multiple ethnic communities both within and outside the university in the design and implementation of interventions and targeted support programs. My work exposed me to a number of substantive equality and minority interests including culture, socioeconomic status, gender, race, and language background. Programs that I managed have won national awards for their inclusive design, commitment to equity principles, and impact.
My PhD (2016) explored intercultural interactions on a university campus and revealed the structuring effects of student’s cognitions, and university practices (particularly pedagogical), on intercultural interactions. The thesis was multidisciplinary (sociology and socio-cultural psychology), and dimensions explored included identity, power, and structure and agency.


Danielle Hagood, USA

University of California, Davis

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair: Since joining SoLAR in 2016, I’ve appreciated actions supporting gender parity and multinationalism. By serving as the Inclusion Chair, I’d like to support existing endeavors and future efforts. To me, overall, an Inclusion Chair should coordinate the intersections of inclusive initiatives embedded within SoLAR activities—inclusion is an attribute of all efforts, not a siloed endeavor. This, and facilitating an Inclusion Working Group, suggests to me that this role requires organization and detail management rather than take-charge leadership.

Since any strategic plan would be best co-developed with the Working Group, I expect my initial ideas would evolve. But to start, I am interested in several initiatives. First, I’d like to create an annual survey of members assessing our inclusivity efforts and identifying further needs—since many areas of need are likely unknown to me and unrepresented within a committee. Second, I’d like to focus on tailored communications. I previously managed digital communications and member segmentation at a policy institute. Building on that experience, I want to create a database of relevant member information to both identify gaps and tailor communications to individual needs. Supporting diversity requires identifying and meeting diverse needs, not deluging everyone with everything.

Biography: I am completing a PhD in education at the University of California, Davis. My studies and mentorship emphasize learning science, with intensive training in measurement and psychometrics through a selective NSF training fellowship. Additionally, I participate as an affiliate at the university’s Data Science Institute.

My dissertation work focuses on computational psychometrics—exploring how LMS and learning system log data can be used to design assessments for facets of engagement and self-regulation. My other research interests and projects involve measuring interdisciplinarity, design-based research, K12 learning analytics, and sociocritical evaluations of technology in learning. I currently teaching as a TA for both educational psychology and the MA research capstone projects.

Within SoLAR, I serve as a co-chair to the Students SIG. This SIG’s active membership—a humble 25—are already an inclusive group comprising members of diverse geographic location (i.e. not North American centric) and gender from varied training programs and advancement.


Melanie Peffer, USA

University of Northern Colorado

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair: Learning analytics is the future of education—for everyone. Given the variety of stakeholders, it is important that SoLAR be inclusive. What does “inclusive” mean for SoLAR? The role of the inclusionchair is attempt to answer what “inclusive” means for SoLAR and develop and implement methods for promoting diverse viewpoints among SoLAR. For example, are there members of the learning analytics community who need additional resources or support to attend LAK? One possible group to target is early-career SoLAR members with young children. Travel awards could be offered to offset childcare expenses or breastmilk courier services. What about people who have a vested interested in learning analytics, but are unaware of SoLAR? Or who lack institutional resources to attend LAK or LASI? The inclusion chair could oversee outreach efforts such as monthly or quarterly virtual meet ups, each around a different theme or targeting a difference group (e.g. Women in SoLAR, individuals from a specific region, researchers with similar interests). Meet ups could be advertised through public venues such as Twitter to reach a wide audience. Outreach could also include sharing of resources, such as educational materials or guidance on ethical usage of learning analytics.

Biography: Dr. Peffer earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Pittsburgh and completed postdoctoral training in educational psychology at Georgia State University. She is currently an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado. Her research is interdisciplinary, integrating her background in molecular biology and educational psychology to create a synergistic program of study. Dr. Peffer’s interests include technology-enhanced learning and she is the lead developer of the Science Classroom Inquiry (SCI) simulations, which she uses as a way of assessing student’s epistemological beliefs about science via their practices in simulated authentic science inquiry. In addition to leveraging learning analytics techniques to model student practices in simulated authentic science inquiry, she also has interests in ethics and policy questions surrounding big data in education. Dr. Peffer is a Mom to a wonderful baby boy (who attended his first LAK conference in Sydney) and is currently navigating the challenges of balancing motherhood, particularly the logistics of exclusive breastfeeding, with the demands of an early career professor.


Shenita Ray, USA

Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair: Analytics research has the potential to transform teaching, learning, training, and development and the structures that serve as the foundation for these elements. To help realize this potential, I aspire to serve as the Inclusion Chair to work towards creating an inclusive environment at SoLAR. As the Inclusion Chair, I would aim to design, implement, and monitor innovative strategies, in collaboration with SoLAR working groups, to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse membership. Additionally, I would strive to foster an environment that encourages members and supports their efforts to engage in analytics research inclusive of diverse populations. To achieve these aims and others, I envision working collaboratively with SoLAR leaders and members to develop and implement an inclusion strategy reflective of several measurable action plans: social media, communication, partnerships, sponsored events, and networking. A few outcomes that I would use as measures of success for the work of the Inclusion Chair: increase the number of diverse members recruited and retained; increase the number of diverse members serving as leaders on SoLAR’s Executive Committee; increase analytics research published by diverse members; and increase the number of diverse individuals attending and presenting at conferences sponsored by SoLAR.

Biography: Shenita Ray currently serves as the Director of Online Operations in the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University. Among her many roles and responsibilities, since 2017, she has been serving as the chair of the School’s Learning Analytics Task Force. Before stepping into her current role, Ray was the Director of Distance Education and Continuing Education at Virginia Union University. This followed several years working at the University of Wisconsin where Ray was an Associate Director Distance Learning Center, an Adjunct Assistant Professor, and the Director for Midwest Culturally Inclusive Conference. Prior to her career in higher education, Ray worked for General Electric as a Six Sigma BlackBelt and as an Information Technology leader as part of the company’s Information Management Leadership Program. Ray earned her BS in Finance and Information Technology and her M.Ed in Instructional Leadership from Marquette University. In 2012, Ray earned her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from University of Wisconsin- Madison. Outside of work, Ray enjoys yoga, running, reading, and writing. She recently completed a hot yoga teacher training program in Paris, France and is looking forward to teaching yoga a few times a week.


Maren Scheffel, The Netherlands

Open Universiteit Nederland

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair:  Hearing about the plans for an Inclusion Chair I was at first slightly taken aback by the term inclusion (possibly due to its denotation in my native language). Diversity, it seemed to me, would be a much better term. However, after having read more about the topic, I shed that language bias and got a more inclusive view on the matter. While diversity (i.e. ensuring there is a mix not only of genders, ages, nationalities, religions, and languages, but also of research backgrounds, methods, skills, expertise, educational levels, and experiences) is crucial when it comes to working together, it takes inclusion to getting a diverse mix to work together well. As the Inclusion Chair my goal is to support SoLAR in becoming an even more diverse and inclusive organisation. This ranges from feedback surveys and a suggestions box, over working groups and workshops about/by/for social and research-related diversity, to accessibility and the availability of breastfeeding and silence rooms during events as well as to diversity- and inclusion-related publications. By making diversity and inclusion part of SoLAR’s organisational policy, we ensure that everyone is welcomed, heard, valued and respected, and that everyone can contribute to the extent of their full potential.

Biography: Maren Scheffel is an assistant professor within the Technology Enhanced Learning Innovations (TELI) department of the Open Universiteit’s Welten Institute, the Research Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology. With a background in computational linguistics she started to work in the field of technology-enhanced learning in 2009 and has since then been involved in the coordination and management (ROLE, LACE, CompetenSEA) as well as the research work (ROLE, LinkedUp, LACE, SHEILA, CompetenSEA) of several European projects. For her PhD that she obtained from the Open Universiteit in 2017, she developed the Evaluation Framework for Learning Analytics (EFLA). Next to progressing this work further, her research now also delves into the connection of learning analytics and learning design as well as visualisation techniques for dashboards. Maren has organised workshops and has served as a reviewer for journals and conferences on many occasions. She is member of the editorial board of the Journal of Learning Analytics, of the SoLAR SIG LACE and vice chair of the SURF SIG Learning Analytics.


Marcelo Worsley, USA

Northwestern University

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair:
The Inclusion Chair will help engage a more diverse and inclusive community of scholars in learning analytics research, and support the pursuit of learning analytics research that relates to equity, accessibility, inclusion and diversity. More concretely, I see the Inclusion Chair as someone who helps to develop meaningful international partnerships that extend SOLAR’s reach, helps grow learning analytics research within a larger number of institutions, and, generally, advance high-quality, impactful research. One approach is for SOLAR to develop training pipelines (e.g., extended LASI locals, internships, data challenges) for students, particularly in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, interested in pursuing graduate studies in Learning Analytics. This may involve collaborating with organizations that advance data science and AI among women (e.g. Women in Machine Learning), under-represented populations (e.g. Black in AI) and people with disabilities. One outcome could be dedicated sessions at LAK, or, perhaps, a special issues in JLA, that look at challenges, opportunities and applications of learning analytics to issues of equity, diversity and inclusion. Another tangible is SOLAR taking measures to ensure that conference proceedings and experiences are accessible to people with disabilities, financially accessible to the global community and that it supports non-English programs and events.

Marcelo is an assistant professor of Learning Sciences and Computer Science. He directs the Technological Innovations for Inclusive Learning and Teaching (tiilt) lab. tiilt is an interdisciplinary group that is predominantly under-represented minorities, and includes several women and people with disabilities. tiilt uses multimodal analysis and interfaces to create novel learning experiences specifically geared towards marginalized populations. Marcelo has worked with low-income African-American and Hispanic child throughout the United States, and K-12 students and teachers in Brazil, Russia and Thailand. A central objective of this global work is to spread awareness of learning analytics, learn from other communities, and, more generally, help teachers and students use and interpret multimodal data. Marcelo’s doctoral research with Dr. Paulo Blikstein helped launch the sub-field of Multimodal Learning Analytics.
Marcelo was born in Brazil and spent five years in Europe during primary school. He holds four degrees from Stanford University: Chemical Engineering (BS), Spanish & Portuguese (BA), Computer Science (MS) and Learning Sciences and Technology Design (PhD). At Stanford, Marcelo founded the Black Engineering Graduate Students Association. He has continued to advance inclusion at Northwestern through his research and teaching and also serves on the school’s Global Initiative Committee.


Elle Yuan Wang, USA

The Action Lab, EdPlus, Arizona State University

Short explanation of ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair: For the opportunity of the Inclusion Chair, I would like to work with the working group and the executive leadership to achieve the following inclusive objectives:
Membership: Encourage and enable less-represented groups of members and prospective members to join and contribute to the development of the LAK community
Topic areas: Identify emergent trends in LAK and create a sustainable structure to cultivate these topics.
Activities and Initiatives: Provide diverse opportunities to accommodate members of the community. For example, in addition to our annual conference, LASI, what are other types activities, virtual and physical, that can help sustain frequent and efficient communication among community members of different backgrounds?
Collaboration: Encourage and enable interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, as well as industry-academic collaboration.
Measurement: Develop a strategic plan to measure the progress of the inclusion working group’s efforts to promote, elevate and foster and open and inclusive environment.
Meanwhile, I would also like to propose a symposium or workshop focusing on the various aspects of inclusivity in conjunction with LAK19 next year at ASU.

Biography: Elle Yuan Wang is a Research Scientist at the Action Lab, EdPlus at Arizona State University. Her current projects center on assessing social and emotional leaning skillsets and predicting learner longitudinal career development in large-scale online learning environments. Specifically, her projects take a comprehensive approach by linking three sources of learner data: pre-course learner motivation, within-course learner engagement, as well as post-course development. Measurement of post-course development reflects both individual learner career development as well as advancement of communities of practice. Her recent publications can be seen in Journal of Online Learning and Teaching and Journal of Learning Analytics. She obtained a Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences from Columbia University and has led various projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.Previously, she has held fellowship and positions with Mayor Bloomberg’s Office in New York, the Office of the President at Columbia University, Columbia Technology Ventures, and MTV Networks. Link to the CV: https://bit.ly/ywangcv



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Call for Nominations – New Inclusion Chair!

The Society for Learning Analytics Research is proud to announce an open call for nominations for a new role on the SoLAR Executive Committee. We are now accepting nominations for an Inclusion Chair. This new chair would be a member of the SoLAR Executive Committee and would serve for a term of two years before becoming eligible for re-election to the Executive Committee.

The Inclusion Chair role and responsibilities will include but is not limited to the following:

  • recruit and oversee the Inclusion Working Group/Portfolio,
  • develop a strategic plan aimed at the society’s goal to promote, elevate and foster an open and inclusive environment; recruit a balanced, diverse (gender, geographic, thematic, etc.) and welcoming membership,
  • work with the SoLAR Executive and Inclusion Working Group to implement and monitor inclusion and diversity initiatives within the strategic plan,
  • collaborate with the Strategic Planning Working Group to ensure the alignment of inclusion initiatives with overall SoLAR strategy,
  • work with the Communications Chair to ensure dissemination of activities,
  • measure and present the impact and overall effectiveness of inclusion initiatives.

As stated, this is an open call for nominations. Only those who have valid 2018 SoLAR memberships are eligible to nominate and vote for Executive Positions. To renew or join, visit: https://solaresearch.org/membership/.

To nominate, please email the below information to solarsocietymgmt@gmail.com with the subject line, “Inclusion Chair Nomination,” by April 17, 2018. Voting will begin on April 19, 2018 and will close on May 1, 2018. All dates and times in Eastern Time.

  • Name
  • Institution
  • Provide a short explanation of your ideas for the roles, responsibilities and outcomes of the Inclusion Chair and this new working group (max 200 words)
  • Short biography (max 200 words)
  • Photo – jpg suitable for web
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LAK’18 Companion Proceedings Available!

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to Sydney, Australia, for the 8th International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK18). The Conference is organised annually by the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR) and is hosted this year by The University of Sydney.

As usual, the research papers are published as an archival Proceedings by the ACM, but there is far more to LAK than those contributions, which is reflected in the present Companion Proceedings, published in open access by SoLAR. This Companion Proceedings is more comprehensive than in previous years, incorporating all workshop proceedings. In addition, here you will find practitioner papers, extended abstracts, all posters & demonstrations, the LAK hackathon and doctoral consortium papers.

Read more here.

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