Questioning my research

For my final assignment for INF537 I am trying to use learner analytics to provide an indication of the health of a community of practice. So far, it has surprised me at how much quality research there is of complex analytics compared to work on more simple analytics. This anomaly has prompted me to question whether I am pursuing the right track.

My view is that for people working on administering communities of practice, it is often better to have a simple picture of what is going on than a very impressive detailed statistical model that you do not understand.

My view on analytics was shaped by my time as a web designer. It was my job to set up the analytics tools and to ensure that they were collecting the right kind of information, which could then be interrogated to answer various questions.

My favourite use of analytics was helping a company to adjust the types of products it sold by looking at what customers were searching for but not finding on their site a simple analytic that made a bigger difference to sales than any other approach.

I know sometimes complex analytics are required to identify problems that otherwise may not be seen but I like Avinash Kaushik’s approach, that a great metric is:

  • uncomplex
  • relevant
  • timely
  • instantly useful

This definition helped to reassure me that although my research may not be revolutionary, there is value in pursuing an approach focused around simplicity.

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