Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology

With policy and commercial developments firmly focused on 'big data' and all that entails, I was interested to come across quite a few sessions and speakers talking about how we use data in learning, particularly formal education at ALT's Annual Conference earlier this month.

Earlier in the year, as part of ALT's work for ETAG, the Education Technology Action Group, we had invited contributions from a range of individuals and organisations and received what I think is a really helpful contribution from Simon Buckingham Shum & Simon Knight, from the Knowledge Media Institute, Open University, UK (you can read their submission in full in this blog post from 5 June 2014). Personally, I found the way in which some of the terminology is explained helpful, for example, the way in which the concept of learning analytics was visualised:

"Learning analytics" means a huge range of different concerns, technologies, purposes and pedagogies to different people, so care needs to be taken that no single perspective dominates, and that it is very clear which purposes are assumed by whom:

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