The beginnings of the Data Doubles project began with the team’s collaborative work on a SPEC Kit survey for the Association of Research Libraries. The team is happy to announce that the SPEC Kit is now published and an informative webinar is upcoming.
The initial purpose of the SPEC Kit was to assess the guidelines, practices, and current climate surrounding learning analytics today. Our survey placed a particular emphasis on library participation in learning analytics, which we felt was needed given how library usage by students is increasingly linked to academic achievement and other definitions of student success. We collected responses between April 30 and June 15, 2018, with 53 of the total 125 ARL member institutions participating. Some of the larger questions we aimed to address included:
- How are academic libraries planning for, adopting, and participating in learning analytics initiatives?
- What mechanisms do they use to maintain data security and privacy?
- What ethical issues do they encounter when participating in learning analytics?
- and how do they negotiate and resolve those issues?
Ultimately, the overall trends from our aggregated responses seem to convey that learning analytics participation is of considerable importance for ARL libraries, despite the fact that there are also large inconsistencies in “data policy, staff documentation on data handling, and comprehensive internal training” across institutions. Though most responding institutions indicated that they received institutional training on FERPA and IRB policies, nearly 16% claimed to have “received no training for learning analytics projects”. As we look to the future, libraries can better their position in this new wave of learning analytics by developing best practices for assessing the ethical and personal privacy risk to students and expand upon the current policies set in place.
In addition to the SPEC Kit, members of the team will be presenting the work in a webcast on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 from 1:00–1:45 p.m. eastern daylight time. The webcast is free for all, but be sure to register by October 3rd.