The Power of Analytics to Engage and Guide: Experiences at the eMadrid Excellence Network

Contribution from eMadrid to the Open Education Week (11-15 March 2013) PDF

The year 2012 has seen the rise of a new kind of online education. Initiatives like the Khan Academy or platforms for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), like edX or Coursera, have stricken the education sector like a tsunami. One of the key enabling features of these initiatives is the use of a fine-grained analytics to provide a much better learning experience. In this session, several experiences carried out by members of the eMadrid network are presented that are related to learning analytics.

eMadrid is the Excellence Network about e-Learning funded by the Regional Government of Madrid. Its members are the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, who acts as a coordinator, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, together with a large number of associated companies and educational institutions. The aim of the network is to provide leadership and perform advanced research in the area of e-learning, including technology transfer to companies. The network organizes monthly seminars and annual workshops. All presentations are recorded and available at the network’s website

In this special session, an overview is given about the research carried out by eMadrid partners in the area of learning analytics.


“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine” , says Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner [1], in order to emphasize the importance of analysing information to get useful knowledge. In [2] we can read a good definition of the term analytics and its application in the educational context: “Analytics is the use of data, statistical and quantitative methods, and explanatory and predictive models to allow organizations and individuals to gain insights into and act on complex issues. In colleges and universities, analytics is used to improve operational efficiency and student success.”

Analytics has been used on the web in general (cf. Google Analytics) for some time now providing valuable information about users and helping developers to improve contents or the design of websites. Nowadays, learning analytics is being applied to online education (e.g. Khan Academy) or to different MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to gain insight about what is actually happening in the courses, and in particular to improve the learning experience on the basis of a very detailed capturing of events. In an online setting, the teacher can have a much more detailed information about the educational process than in a face-to-face setting. Therefore online education can even be superior to traditional face-to-face education, at least in some respects. And learning analytics lies at the heart of this magic.

These are the contributions to this session from each partner of the eMadrid Network:

More info about this session

Finally, the six universities included in this network also promote open educational resources individually. Here are the links to some activities they promote:




Youtube EDU


Open Source Serious Games

[1] [1] “Gartner Says Worldwide Enterprise IT Spending to Reach $2.7 Trillion in 2012”, Press Release, Gartner Newsroom, Orlando, Fl., 11 Oct. 2011,

[2] Diana Oblinger: “Let’s Talk… Analytics”, EDUCAUSE review online, published online 18 July 2012, in print September/October 2012,

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