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Policy brief on learning analytics – UNESCO (LAEP Inventory)

Cloud created by:

Rebecca Ferguson
11 February 2016


This policy brief, written by Simon Buckingham Shum, was published in 2012 by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.


The aim of the report is to describe and define learning analytics and to provide real-world examples of their use. In doing so, it divides learning analytics into three levels -- micro (individual student), meso (institution), and macro (region/state/national/international) -- and highlights potential benefits of learning analytics for each. Examples of learning analytics forms are also given, including LMS/VLE dashboards, predictive analytics, adaptive learning analytics, social network analytics and discourse analytics.


The report also highlights debates in the learning analytics field. Topics include the perceived ‘neutrality’ of data, conceptualising the definition of student ‘success’, and various ethical implications of using and sharing student data.


Finally, the policy brief provides recommendations for higher education institutions in the light of the state of the art at the time of publication:

1.)    Using analytics as a tool to debate visions of teaching and education in the 21st century

2.)    Training staff and researchers to use and develop analytics tools

3.)    Developing an analytics infrastructure for research at an institutional level

4.)    Collaborating with other institutions to develop trusted partnerships and robust learning analytics methods (for example, through an open analytics platform)


This policy is published under Creative Commons licence.


Inventory type:

strategy-level white papers

Document source:

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education: non-governmental (195 member countries, 10 associate member territories)


impact, ethics

Policy Context




international: global


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 state of learning analytics at the time of publication.

Maturity and Evidence of Utility

The report is a credible assessment of learning analytics, written by a leading researcher in the field and with an extensive list of source materials. However, no information is available about the editing or peer review process.

Further Information

Location of policy document:

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