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Learning Analytics & AI: Politics, Pedagogy and Practices

The concluding issue of the 50th Anniversary volume of the British Journal of Educational Technology has just been published, co-edited by CIC’s Director, Simon Buckingham Shum, along with Prof. Rose Luckin from UCL Knowledge Lab (read their Editorial overview). Kirsty Kitto and Simon Knight also contributed an article, focusing on the ethics of learning analytics systems.

11 contributions from leading research teams in Learning Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence in Education (LA/AIED), provide critical, reflective accounts from researchers who are also system developers. Together, they bring a deep understanding of the design decisions, and value commitments, that underpin the emerging digital infrastructure for education. Their connections are interwoven around the themes set by the editors: Politics, Pedagogy and Practices:

1. The politics theme acknowledges the widespread anxiety about the ways that data, algorithms and machine intelligence are being, or could be, used in education. From international educational datasets gathered by governments and corporations, to personal apps, in a broad sense ‘politics’ infuse all information infrastructures, because they embody values and redistribute power. While applauding the contributions that science and technology studies, critical data studies and related fields are making to contemporary debates around the ethics of big data and AI, we wanted to ask, how do the researchers and developers of LA/AI tools frame their work in relation to these concerns?

2. The pedagogies theme addresses the critique from some quarters that LA/AI’s requirements to formally model skills and quantify learning processes serve to perpetuate instructivist pedagogies (eg, Wilson & Scott, 2017), branded somewhat provocatively as behaviourism (Watters, 2015). While there has clearly been huge progress in STEM‐based intelligent tutoring systems (see du Boulay, 2019; Rosé, McLaughlin, Liu, & Koedinger, 2019), what is the counter‐argument that LA/AI empowers more diverse pedagogies?

3. The practices theme sought accounts of how these technologies come into being. What design practices does one find inside LA/AI teams that engage with the above concerns? Moreover, once these tools have been deployed, what practices do educators use to orchestrate these tools in their teaching?”

Enjoy this feast of ideas!…

Buckingham Shum, S.J. & Luckin, R. (2019), Eds: Learning Analytics and AI: Politics, Pedagogy and PracticesBritish Journal of Educational Technology (50th Anniversary Special Issue), 50, (6), pp.2785-2973.