Enriching context descriptions for enhanced LA scalability: a case study
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionResearch and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning (RPTL). 2021, 16 (1), 1-26. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41039-021-00150-2
Learning analytics (LA) is a field that examines data about learners and their context, for understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs. Integration of multiple data sources, an important dimension of scalability, has the potential to provide rich insights within LA. Using a common standard such as the Experience API (xAPI) to describe learning activity data across multiple sources can alleviate obstacles for data integration. Despite their potential, however, research indicates that standards are seldom used for integration of multiple sources in LA. Our research aims to understand and address the challenges of using current learning activity data standards for describing learning context with regard to interoperability and data integration. In this paper, we present the results of an exploratory case study involving in-depth interviews with stakeholders having used xAPI in a real-world project. Based on the subsequent thematic analysis of interviews, and examination of xAPI, we identified challenges and limitations in describing learning context data, and developed recommendations (provided in this paper in summarized form) for enriching context descriptions and enhancing the expressibility of xAPI. By situating the research in a real-world setting, our research also contributes to bridge the gap between the academic community and practitioners in learning activity data standards and scalability, focusing on description of learning context.