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Educause – Understanding and managing the risks of analytics in higher education: a guide (LAEP Inventory)

Cloud created by:

Rebecca Ferguson
11 February 2016

The document, written in 2012 by Randy Stiles for EDUCAUSE, provides practical information about the risks associated with adopting (or not adopting) learning analytics in higher education institutions. In its introduction, the document states that it ‘provides frameworks, suggestions, and resources that may prove helpful in considering risk and performing analytics at both ends of a possible spectrum – not doing enough or doing too much, too soon’ (pg 9).


The document highlights the risks for institutional leaders in adopting analytics, including their premature or inappropriate use and imposing an inappropriate data-oriented culture on the institution. On the other side of the argument, the risks of ignoring analytics altogether are explored.


Data governance is considered next. The document highlights several areas of concern, including legal data protection requirements, data collection and storage methods, and access to student data.


The section that follows looks at data quality, and issues of missing, incorrect or misleading data.


Finally, smaller sections consider issues of legal or institutional compliance (from a primarily American perspective), ethics and privacy, and using third party systems.


Inventory type:

good practice advice

adoption/implementation advice

Document source:

EDUCAUSE: Non-profit based in the United States


Risks, ethics, compliance

Policy Context




National: United States


The policy brief is not formally linked to other policy initiatives or policies. Rather, it is a general document aimed at describing and defining the risks associated with adopting (or not adopting) learning analytics at higher education institutions.

Maturity and Evidence of Utility

This policy document’s author has considerable practical experience in higher education, which is apparent throughout. However, no stated collaborations have occurred in the writing of this document, either with other practitioners or with researchers, which diminishes its maturity and utility.

The sources that this document draws upon are primarily other policy documents, think pieces, or opinion pieces, with relatively little empirical evidence examined.

This document is written from a US perspective, although those from other countries may still find it useful. The document provides good, general suggestions for implementing sound analytics policies (which are often taken from other sources), but readers should look elsewhere for more specific advice on implementation.

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