Documentation:Digital Tattoo Curriculum/Student Privacy and Learning Analytics

From UBC Wiki

What is Learning Analytics?

"Learning analytics has been defined as ‘the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs’ (Society for Learning Analytics Research, 2012). Fundamentally, it is concerned with how we might use data generated by learning management systems, student systems and other sources to better understand, and improve, the learning experiences of our students." (University of Edinburgh - Development of the University's Policy on Learning Analytics - Draft Policy Principles and Objectives - Jan 2017)

In post secondary settings, courses often have an online component using a learning management system (LMS) which students log into to participate on various activities, discussions or to download readings or other files.

These systems often offer a way for the institution (and individual instructors) to collect data about student participation (based on logged in activity) which may then be associated with learning. This is one example of learning analytics. In the best case scenario, students clearly understand this data is being collected and have access to a dashboard giving them access to analytics on their own activity on the course. This may be useful in monitoring their strategies for learning. In many cases, however, students may not know how or why this data is collected and may not have sufficient access to it so they may use it to benefit their own learning. The Digital Tattoo project aims to shed some light on the data collection process that occurs in the LMS at UBC.

Much still needs to be explored related to the ethical side of learning analytics and the benefits to students, at UBC and elsewhere.

Questions for exploration

A Checklist to establish trusted Learning Analytics

The DELICATE checklist was presented at the 6th Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference in April of 2016 in Edinburgh. The authors have outlined considerations in 8 areas that may help guide the ethical implementation of a learning analytics approach.

Students may have their own questions and concerns related to learning analytics, such as:

  • why does the university collect this information?
  • what exactly is collected?
  • how could this information help me improve my learning?
  • how do instructors use it?
  • what if I want to opt out?

Suggested activities:

* how might they be used?
* how do they help you?
* are there ethical/privacy concerns that you can identify?
* what control do you have over what is collected (ie privacy controls, anonymous browsing, etc)?



  • How do analytics inform you now?
  • Do you use them to change your behavior? Why? Why not?
  • How does this information impact how you view learning analytics?

Our blog series

The Digital Tattoo project student coordinator, Bryan Short shares his experience accessing, reviewing and learning about the data collected about him in one of his courses. The series (based on Bryan's experience with Connect) highlights UBC's version of Blackboard and their implementation of a learning analytics tool.

From Bryan: The Connect Exposed blog series documents my inquest into data collection on Blackboard Connect, the difficult process of obtaining my data from UBC, and privacy concerns around the collection of student information.



  • Alexander Whitelock-Wainwright, Dragan Gašević, and Ricardo Tejeiro. 2017. What do students want?: towards an instrument for students' evaluation of quality of learning analytics services. In Proceedings of the Seventh International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference (LAK '17). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 368-372. DOI: - Available online: