Instructors' Perceptions of Networked Learning and Analytics | Perceptions des instructeurs quant à l'apprentissage et l'analyse en réseau


  • Scott Comber Rowe School of Business, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University
  • Martine Durier-Copp Adjunct Faculty of Graduate Studies of Public Administration; Director, Centre for Advanced Management Education; Co-Director, Local Economic Growth and Food Security Cuba Project, Dalhousie University
  • Anatolity Gruzd Associate Professor Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University (Canada), and Director of the Social Media Lab



Learning analytics, e-learning, collaborative learning, social network analysis, network visualization, online networks


This study seeks to understand instructors’ perceptions of social network analysis (SNA) and network visualizations as learning analytics (LA) tools for generating useful insights about student online interactions in their class. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from three graduate courses taught at a Canadian university at the end of the academic term and came from two sources: (1) class-wide forum discussion messages, and (2) interviews with instructors regarding their perceptions of student networks and interactions. This study is unique as it focuses on instructors’ self-assessments of online student interactions and compares this with the SNA visualization. The difference between instructors’ perceptions of social network interactions and actual interactions underlines the potential that LA can provide for instructors. The results confirmed that SNA and network visualizations have the potential of making the “invisible” visible to instructors, thus enhancing their ability to engage students more effectively.

Cette étude vise à comprendre les perceptions des instructeurs sur l’analyse des réseaux sociaux (ARS) et la visualisation de réseaux comme outils d’analyse de l’apprentissage (AA) produisant des perspectives utiles sur les interactions en ligne des étudiants de leur classe. Des données qualitatives et quantitatives ont été collectées dans trois cours des cycles supérieurs d’une université canadienne à la fin de la session scolaire. Ces données proviennent de deux sources : (1) les messages du forum de discussion de l’ensemble du groupe et (2) des entretiens avec les instructeurs au sujet de leurs perceptions sur les réseaux et interactions des étudiants. Cette étude est unique en ce qu’elle se concentre sur les auto-évaluations des instructeurs portant sur les interactions étudiantes en ligne, et les compare à la visualisation de l’ARS. La différence entre les perceptions qu’ont les instructeurs des interactions sur les réseaux sociaux et les interactions réelles souligne le potentiel que l’AA peut offrir aux instructeurs. Les résultats ont confirmé que l’ARS et les visualisations de réseaux ont le potentiel de rendre « l’invisible » visible pour les instructeurs, améliorant ainsi leur capacité à motiver les étudiants plus efficacement.

Author Biographies

Scott Comber, Rowe School of Business, Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University

Dr. Comber's research is in the areas of physician leadership, healthcare – emergency departments, and the scholarship of teaching and learning management education.

Martine Durier-Copp, Adjunct Faculty of Graduate Studies of Public Administration; Director, Centre for Advanced Management Education; Co-Director, Local Economic Growth and Food Security Cuba Project, Dalhousie University

Dr. Durier-Copp has been the project director of two major international projects whose goals were broadly aimed at strengthening the delivery of public services in Cuba. The focus of the initiatives has been on capacity building of senior government officials as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of public policy and management. Martine is interested in researching governance and international development, but also has a special interest in health policy, the economy and public sector management. 

Anatolity Gruzd, Associate Professor Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University (Canada), and Director of the Social Media Lab

Dr. Gruzd's research initiatives explore how the advent of social media and the growing availability of user-generated big data are changing the ways in which people communicate, collaborate and disseminate information and how these changes impact the social, economic and political norms and structures of modern society. Anatoliy's expertise lay in developing and testing new analytics tools for discovering and visualizing social media data and online social networks. The broad aim of his various research initiatives is to provide decision makers with additional knowledge and insights into the behaviours and relationships of online network members, and to understand how these interpersonal connections influence our personal choices and actions


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