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A Critical Analysis of Learning Technologies and Informal Learning in Online Social Networks Using Learning Analytics


Audu Kafwa Dodo and Ezekiel Uzor OKike


Vol. 24  No. 1  pp. 71-84


This paper presents a critical analysis of the current application of big data in higher education and how Learning Analytics (LA), and Educational Data Mining (EDM) are helping to shape learning in higher education institutions that have applied the concepts successfully. An extensive literature review of Learning Analytics, Educational Data Mining, Learning Management Systems, Informal Learning and Online Social Networks are presented to understand their usage and trends in higher education pedagogy taking advantage of 21st century educational technologies and platforms. The roles of and benefits of these technologies in teaching and learning are critically examined. Imperatively, this study provides vital information for education stakeholders on the significance of establishing a teaching and learning agenda that takes advantage of today educational relevant technologies to promote teaching and learning while also acknowledging the difficulties of 21st-century learning. Aside from the roles and benefits of these technologies, the review highlights major challenges and research needs apparent in the use and application of these technologies. It appears that there is lack of research understanding in the challenges and utilization of data effectively for learning analytics, despite the massive educational data generated by high institutions. Also due to the growing importance of LA, there appears to be a serious lack of academic research that explore the application and impact of LA in high institution, especially in the context of informal online social network learning. In addition, high institution managers seem not to understand the emerging trends of LA which could be useful in the running of higher education. Though LA is viewed as a complex and expensive technology that will culturally change the future of high institution, the question that comes to mind is whether the use of LA in relation to informal learning in online social network is really what is expected? A study to analyze and evaluate the elements that influence high usage of OSN is also needed in the African context. It is high time African Universities paid attention to the application and use of these technologies to create a simplified learning approach occasioned by the use of these technologies.


Learning Analytics, Educational Data Mining, Informal Learning, Online Social Network.