Prof. Thomas Hillman
Senior lecturer (docent) from the Division of Learning, Communication and IT at Department of Applied Information Technology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
From tools to platforms: Integrating big data with thick data to understand the practices of learning with technology
In the past few years, we have been witness to a shift in the technologies of learning. Since the early introduction of computers to schools in the late 1970s, the research and development of educational technology has generally had discrete and relatively easily identifiable tools to focus on. With increased use of digital platforms, however, the tools involved in learning processes are less easily distinguished and learning situations involving technology less easily bounded. With this shift, the digital traces produced on platforms from learning management systems to social media are often the primary means that users, designers and researchers have for making sense of the activity that takes place. This availability of trace data from platforms has inevitably lead to a great deal of interest with the emergence of new fields like Learning Analytics. However, as Tricia Wang famously noted, if we want to understand human behaviour with technology, “big data needs thick data”. This is no less true for understanding learning and in this talk, I will propose an integrative approach to understanding the practices of learning with technology through big and thick data drawing on examples from my work as I have shifted focus from tools to platforms.