13-14 March, 2017, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Its Not Just for Techies! Educators Needed.

This workshop is called a data “hackathon” but its not just for techies. In fact, it will not be effective if it is just techies attend. Yes, some participants will talk technology but it is also critical that we have a balance of participants willing to be constructively critical and to drive us into our zone of proximal development towards learning analytics technologies which are more relevant from an educational technology perspective.

If you are involved in education, whether as a teacher, instructor,  learning technologist or instructional designer, this is the chance to gain better insight into what is kinds of data are already available and also to help system developers gather the information you really need to better support your educational priorities.


Feel empowered: This data hackathon is intended to be a practical hands-on workshop involving participants from academia and commercial organizations with both technical and practitioner expertise. It will consider the outstanding challenge of visualizations which are effective for the intended audience: informing action, not likely to be misinterpreted, and embodying contextual appropriacy, etc. It will surface particular issues as workshop challenges and explore responses to these challenges as visualizations resting upon interoperability standards and API-oriented open architectures.


This proposal builds on successful workshops organized at the two previous LAK conferences by Jisc and Apereo, two leading organizations promoting the development of open architectures, interoperable solutions, good practice, and effective deployments for learning analytics. The LAK16 workshop in Edinburgh attracted 32 participants from both commercial organizations and the academic world, with both technical and practitioner expertise represented.

The workshop will take the form of a “hackathon”.  As such, it will engage expertise from a rich range of stakeholders – educators, developers, and data scientists – to build knowledge through practical activities with defining needs and requirements, coding, and data wrangling being a significant component of the activities involved. Experience of previous hackathons shows that practical activity helps to promote a greater understanding of what lies in the intersection between what different stakeholders understand what learning analytics means, and helps to provide a productive platform for negotiating the trade-off between what is desirable and feasible in practice.

The workshop will address the outstanding challenge of providing information and visualizations to students, instructors, and instructional support staff to enable improved learning experiences: informing action, not likely to be misinterpreted, and embodying contextual appropriacy, etc. It will make space to explore, challenge the status quo, and sketch ideas for use by learners and teachers, considering the interplay between their agency and the learning analytics in use. An additional distinctive character for the workshop is that it will emphasize the relationship of this broad question to APIs and interoperability standards, as critical aspects of application outside the researcher’s laboratory, building on the vision of the SoLAR Open Learning Analytics initiative.

Objectives and Outcomes

The workshop theme will be the role of visualizations to support “getting the right information to the right people so they can take the right action”, with specific challenges posed by the hackathon participants and organisers at the start of the workhop.

Group activities (see the Programme Page for more information) will pick on a challenge chosen by each group, in order to achive the overarching intention to:

  • Stimulate greater understanding of the space in the intersection between the expertise of educational practitioners, software developers/engineers, and data scientists. In particular to provide an opportunity for participants to gain insight into the way in which the contexts and the intended purposes of learning analytics foreshadow desirable methods of presenting the results of it.
  • Identify and record priorities and evidence for interoperability standards/recipes development.
  • Identify development opportunities for existing APIs, to diverse components in the learning analytics architectural landscape, to access the right data in efficient ways.
  • Create example visualizations in response to the workshop challenges, based on realistic systems/data and with input from people with diverse expertise.

The organizers will make available data and API-enabled learning analytics software to support the hackathon, and will solicit similar contributions from other parties. Workshop outputs will be openly available in a GitHub repository.

The LAK Hackathon is a pre-conference workshop of the 7th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference.