Feeling the fear (and doing it anyway!)

I am enjoying the Unit 4 module on Learning analytics, even though I was presented with what would normally be my worst nightmare – an Excel spreadsheet to analyse! I can do a bit of Excel, but my (misguided) association with Excel and  ‘sums’ tends to bring out the numerophobe in me and put me on the defensive before I have even begun. But I did venture into the  sample data file and even managed to decipher some of it. I am especially grateful to the team for setting it as a task for us. I am enjoying this module particularly because we’ve been given “stuff to do”- with activity completion boxes, thereby forcing us to do them. This has worked very well for me. Of course we are all adults and motivated and so would probably read the materials and respond in forums  – the more frequent way of seting up units, it seems to me – but giving us tasks – such as the SCORM package, the wiki and the data analysis file – are ensuring, at least for me, that we definitely engage with the subject in a hands-on way. I appreciated the topic summary in the SCORM package and the invitation to set out our understandings in the wiki.

As for ‘feeling the fear..’ (a reference to Jeffers, 2017) I was reminded, as I tackled the spreadsheet, of Threshold concepts, a term I first learned about last October, via a book recommendation (Didau, 2015) by my daughter. It’s not on our list, but I am happy to digest anything educational these days, as I haven’t, for over 30 years. Didau highlights some of the features of Threshold concepts:

  • Integrative
  • Transformative
  • Irreversible
  • Reconstitutive
  • Troublesome
  • Discursive

I have experienced some of those as I plough through my Russian classes in another world, but it occured to me that diving into the analytics spreadsheet was giving me a similar experience: It was ‘Troublesome” in that it “presented [me] with a degree of difficulty […] incoherent or counter-intuitive”. That was Good, because good learning should be hard! It was Integrative, in that it brought “together different parts of the subject [I] hadn’t previously seen as connected. It was Reconsitutive, in that it “may shift [my] sense of self over time” and it was Transformative, in that, once understood it will “change the way [I] see the subject and [myself].”

So being set this task, along with the other activities in the unit, has opened my eyes and removed some of my feelings of inadequacy in the area of learning analytics and how to understand them. Perhaps if I ever get as far as the final, research module, I should face that fear head on and do something on analytics? 🙂



Didau, D. (2015). What if everything you knew about education was wrong?. Crown House Publishing.


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