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SoLAR Storm: distributed lab for Learning Analytics PhDs

Simon Buckingham Shum, Friday 7 Dec 2012

As the field of Learning Analytics develops, there is an urgent need to equip a new generation of educational researchers and data scientists. SoLAR Storm is an online research lab to connect PhD students and supervisors globally.

A widely cited report by McKinsey Global Institute identifies a huge global skills gap:  people who can combine deep analytical skills to make sense of big data, plus the ability to think strategically for an enterprise. This applies equally to education.

The Society for Learning Analytics Research seeks to tackle this need, and Storm in particular targets doctoral level researchers, who at present do not necessarily find themselves in the kind of strong research groups that PhDs find in more established fields. A purely online lab, Storm hosts a monthly closed session for students to get feedback on their work, and a monthly open webinar when guest speakers bring different perspectives, including academia and enterprise. Of course, Storm connects students so that they can also then make the opportunities to meet up f-f when the opportunities arise — they are the next generation of research leads, analytics architects and educational entrepreneurs.

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