Citation Networks - Block 4, Activity 15

This exercise asked us to consider reading a paper by Dawson et al (2014) the jist of which was a paper that analysed the kind of research and kind of researchers were interested in and were actively engaged in studying learning analytics.

The practical implications of their research was that learning analytics was increasingly part of a topic in learning disciplines; that more effort needs to be put into empirical studies; and that cross collaboration with other data collecting resources, would be fruitful. 

Despite what look like impressive analytics of the kind of figures and pictures that suggest analytic data, I do NOT see this as an example of learning analytics. I see it as research analytics: the research topic happens to be about learning analytics.

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It is using the methodology of citation indices to shed light on the kind of information is being promoted or thought as important at a particular point or slice in time of a research arena (think ’Science Citation Index', or 'Social Science Citation Index’).

The disparity of the citation indices of research in either the specialised proceedings of the International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (between 10-16) vs. those in broader fields (Google Scholar citation) shows that the field is very new since those in the proceedings tend to be cited almost the same number of times, vs. large differences in the broader fields (from 25 citations through to more than 16,600).

The authors are keen to point out that learning analytics only provides part of a solution:

Learning analytics to date has served to identify a condition, but has not advanced to deal with the learning challenges in a more nuanced and integrated manner.

We were asked to read this paper in different sections and out of order from the main paper. Did it make a difference to how I interpreted the paper by missing out some sections? I don’t think so, but then this is how I read many papers anyhow for my other research arenas. In this sense the programme helped to identify which sections to focus on, whereas by oneself one needs to consider how to identify the relevant sections oneself.

Or what am I missing?


Dawson, S. et al. (2014) Current State and Future Trends: A Citation Network Analysis of the Learning Analytics Field. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge, New York, ACM Press, 231-240.

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant