Learning analytics and its metrics – approaching an educational frame via a social semiotic pathway

Ben Bachmair, Keith Turvey, John Cook, Norbert Pachler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the task of applying metrics to education and proposes a view of learning analytics as the semiotic work of meaning making. In this social semiotic frame, metrics are defined as a qualitative and quantitative modality of representation, offering evidence in and on practice. Work in the fields of cultural studies and media studies in the 1970s defining TV-mediated mass communication as signifying practices, are used as an example for the task of integrating metrics into education as a mode of representation and learning as meaning making. Education is increasingly confronted with the impact of digitization and its framing by automation. Educators try to make metrics meaningful for learning by integrating metrification into the dynamic of a learner’s development. However, the success of this is dependent upon its educational provenance, which means orientation to the learners’ personal development and their context. A genuinely educational proposal for metrics refers to metrics as a mode of representation of learning processes and learning outcomes. We propose to concentrate here on narratives, which offer a familiar form of reflexivity. Furthermore the paper proposes practices of learning as context awareness which are illustrated through examples from primary school and university.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons license Attribution - Non - commercial - No editing 3.0 Austria (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 AT)


  • learning analytics
  • cybernetics
  • social semiotics


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