Higher education institutions want students to achieve their goals. To help improve student outcomes, institutions look for ways to collect and analyze data to understand and improve student learning and success. However, there are many challenges around collecting and using student data efficiently, ethically, and effectively. These challenges are what Associate Professor Megan Oakleaf has been working to address with colleagues through the Connecting Libraries and Learning Analytics for Student Success (CLLASS) project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

The CLLASS project, which was recently featured in the EDUCAUSE 2021 Horizon Report | Teaching and Learning Edition, explores how libraries could engage in campus learning analytics conversations. At the institutional level, the term “learning analytics” refers to the use of systems that collect and centralize individual-level student learning data to serve as a source of research for understanding and supporting student learning outcomes. Institutions can use learning analytics to discover student experiences that lead to positive outcomes and uncover systemic or structural hurdles that may hinder student success.  

Currently, few libraries participate in these centralized data systems used by institutions. In the future, library involvement could help institutions understand student experiences more holistically, enhancing their ability to use learning analytics to connect students with the support they need. The CLLASS project explores ways libraries could initiate participation in learning analytics and engage in this work to support student learning and success in alignment with longstanding library ethics and values.  

In addition to Syracuse University, IMS Global, Lewis and Clark Community College, OCLC, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, and Unizin have partnered for the CLLASS project. Together, they hope to cement sustaining partnerships and collaborations enabling library involvement in learning analytics, design library prototypes that serve as proofs of concepts and models for future projects, and envision ways library data can expand support for student learning success. One significant output of the CLLASS project is a set of library data profiles for the Caliper standard. Caliper is an interoperability standard that provides specifications to help structure data on learning interactions within an academic institution. The CLLASS project produced a Caliper Library Profile that is public and ready for implementation. 

“The Caliper Library Profile addresses many technical difficulties by formatting library data emitted from disparate systems uniformly. Simultaneously, it allows librarians, in partnership with students, to control what library data is captured and conveyed to learning analytics initiatives at their institutions. Ultimately, this work should increase institutional understanding of the student experiences that help students to achieve success and enable students to view and use the data they generate at their institutions to make decisions, take actions, and increase their agency over their own learning and goal achievement.”

The draft Caliper Library Profile can be found at https://www.imsglobal.org/spec/caliper-library/v1p2, and a white paper outlining implications of its use is located at https://library.educause.edu/resources/2020/12/connecting-libraries-and-learning-analytics-for-student-success.