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3 What is learning


What does the phrase 'learning analytics'

mean to you?

It may seem self-explanatory - surely it's

something to do with analysing the data

around learning activity? - but the danger with

apparently self-explanatory phrases like this is

that they mean all things to all people. 'Micro

learning', for example, can mean anything

from 'content carefully designed and

delivered in a structured way, over time, to

avoid the dangers of the forgetting curve' to

'chopped up bits of video'.

So just what does 'learning analytics' mean? It

isn't clear, which is a problem, because it's an

increasingly popular phrase. Before 2010 it

was pretty much unused. Now it's difficult to

avoid, and in the 2019 L&D Global Sentiment

Survey ( is currently the

most popular option to describe what will be

hot next year in our field. I could suggest a

definition, but it might not match yours, and

there is every risk that this ambiguity will result

in it becoming nothing more than a marketing

buzz phrase which fails to deliver on its

(admittedly vague) promise. And that would

be a pity. We need more analysis around

learning and we definitely need a better grasp

of data. Let's not let the vagueness of the

phrasing prevent us taking analysis, data and

learning seriously.

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Donald H Taylor



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