CILA workshop @ LAK20

Within the Learning Analytics (LA) community, the idea that a “one size fits all” paradigm does not lead to effective LA tool designs has become widely accepted, but there is still a big question mark over what factors that define the “right size” for every learner.

During this workshop, we wish to explore whether the learners’ cultural background and the institutional culture surrounding the learning context are some of these factors. In an increasingly international educational landscape, how far should the LA community go in taking such factors into account? What opportunities are offered by LA technologies to deal with cultural barriers and how can we design inclusive LA tools which minimise these barriers?

  • Workshop preceding LAK 2020
  • 23-27 March 2020, Frankfurt, Germany
  • Organizers:
    • Ioana Jivet (Open University, NL & TU Delft, NL)
    • Tom Broos (KU Leuven, BE)
    • Maren Scheffel (Open University, NL)
    • Hendrik Drachsler (DIPF, DE & Open University, NL)
  • Ambassadors:
    • Niels Pinkwart (HU Berlin, DE)
    • Dirk Ifenthaler (Univerisity of Mannheim, DE & Curtin University, AU)
    • Zhi Liu (Central China Normal University, CN)

Goals

  • Raise awareness on the effects of culture on learning and beliefs about learning and implications on:
    • (i) the acceptance and use of LA tools,
    • (ii) the design requirements of LA tools,
    • (iii) the potential for reusability and the need for adaptation of LA tools across different cultural contexts,
    • (iv) the need for adaptation of LA tools within cultural heterogeneous environments.
  • Introduce the cultural background of LA stakeholders on the list of design considerations in the LA domain both in practice and in research.
  • Draw an initial list of recommendations based on workshop participants’ experience with respect to the integration (or lack thereof) of cultural aspects into the design, implementation, evaluation and use of LA tools 

Rationale

The field of LA has gained a lot of attention in the last years as more and more data about learners and their contexts became available. The number of LA tools implemented in online learning environments which bring together learners from all over the world has been steadily on the rise. At the same time, LA implementations are being transferred across institutions and even across countries and continents. For example, the LALA project is a European capacity building project that aims to improve the quality of Higher Education in Latin America, by enabling local universities to implement LA. Similarly, the Competen-SEA project aims to enable universities in South-East Asia to develop a new kind of accessible, affordable, high quality and effective educational services in order to reach groups of the population now excluded from traditional education by leveraging European experiences. The success of both projects relied on adapting the technology to the local context.

There is extensive research grounded in Hofstede’s cultural dimensions framework as to how culture influences different aspects of learning, including beliefs about learning and the educational practice (Hofstede, 1986; Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov, 2005). Student learning patterns and learning strategy use in higher education have been shown to differ across different cultures (Marambe, Vermunt & Boshuizen, 2012). Cultural differences play a significant role also in online learning influencing students’ collaborative learning (Vatrapu & Suthers, 2007), as well as educational technology acceptance and use (Nistor, Göğüş & Lerche, 2013). Instructional designers and teachers need to build culturally inclusive learning course designs in order to encourage full participation by international students (Liu et al., 2010, Gómez-Rey et al., 2016). On an institutional level, managers of transnational higher education partnerships believe culture affects both the academic and operational management of the education programs (Eldridge & Cranston, 2009).

While there were some initial attempts to focus learning analytics on cultural differences (Vatrapu, 2011), the topic is widely underrepresented in current LA work. Still, the few studies that included the cultural dimension in their research show that cultural differences influenced the effectiveness of LA interventions (Mittelmeier et al., 2016; Davis et al, 2017; Kizilcec & Cohen, 2017; Kizilcec et al., 2014), and that cultural differences can be detected based on analytics methods in learning technologies (Rüdian et al., 2019).

The LAK community would benefit from starting a discussion and drafting a set of suggestions on how to create more inclusive tools that put users and their needs at the centre of the design process. Following such principles could lead to more meaningful tools that do not put certain stakeholder groups at an advantage over others.

Workshop activities

During the workshop, we will use Hofstede’s framework as a starting point for the analysis of several existing LA tools and build upon this activity toward a facilitated discussion. As input for the discussion, we will also present the outcomes of a cross-cultural survey that collects input on the acceptance and use of LA tools from students around the world.

Although Hofstede’s framework is not free of criticism (Baskerville, 2003), it does provide a lens through which cultural differences could be identified and discussed. Getting a proper and deeper understanding of the model is vital for the success of the workshop activities. For this reason, we have invited an expert (Miguel Gurrola – CEO Conscious Performance GmbH personally endorsed by Prof. Geert Hofstede) to facilitate the introduction of the model. We believe having such support present throughout the workshop would be a great opportunity for the LAK community to use our guest’s expertise.