The promise of learning data interoperability

By | July 25, 2017

Students and instructors use multiple systems and applications every day that collect vast amounts of data about learners. However, much of the information produced by the current learning data ecosystem is poorly understood and poorly utilized.

In a recent article for Educause, Sean DeMonner, executive director of teaching and learning for ITS, and two colleagues from the University of California-Berkeley explore how the move to a robust and functional digital learning environment will require widespread adoption of learning data standards across institutions. Caliper (supported by the IMS Global Consortium) and xAPI (supported by the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative) are two learning data interoperability specifications that are currently available to “instrument” applications — that is, to modify an application so that it emits user event data in a standard-defined format or profile.

At U-M, work is already underway to incorporate learning data interoperability into existing systems. “ITS Teaching & Learning is available as a resource for campus groups that are writing software and want to start collecting learning analytics data,” says DeMonner. “We are partnering with campus innovators to instrument their applications with Caliper. So far we have done two apps, but others are under discussion.” To learn more, contact ITS Teaching & Learning at Also check out the IMS Hackathon held August 17-18 at U-M.