Nordic Learning Analytics Summer Institute 2023: Peeking into the Future of Learning Analytics in the Nordics

The advent of digital technologies has opened multiple avenues for exploring the intricacies of the human development. Learning is one such area that is now being significantly influenced by and through technology in many ways. In its turn, the learning sciences research is the field that is seeking answers to how exactly it happens.
A big group of people posing.

Through the innovative data collection and analysis techniques enabled by the recent technological developments, we are beginning to understand the in-depth mechanisms of the learning process and, subsequently, provide implications and develop solutions for learning support. In other words, we can say that learners, technology and data analytics are going through a co-evolution – the main theme of the Nordic Learning Analytics Summer Institute that has taken place at the University of Oulu on May 31 – June 1. This was a place where academics, educators, researchers, and students convened to explore the riveting questions that education in change brings to us.

If we want to learn about ethics, we must talk about ethics

When discussing the latest tech and its implications for learning, it is necessary to think holistically and consider all aspects of its presence and implementation. The first keynote speech given by Dr. Simon Knight addressed the issue of ethics, or, more specifically, the ethical implications of AI for education.

We are at the point when we need to improve our understanding of how we learn from, with, and for the resources that AI offers and how we, as researchers, can navigate the complex ethical dilemmas that arise when applying technology in our practices. Dr. Knight has raised the important questions of how we engage in learning about ethics in AI and how we can support learning about it.

Although AI has been rapidly growing and expanding its influence in education, there is still lack of discussion about its ethical implications and one thing that is crucial for all stakeholders is that if we want to learn more about ethics and be able to ensure that the AI users’ rights are protected, we must talk about ethics more.

What can machine vision tell us about humans?

Our second keynote speaker, Prof. Guoying Zhao, focused on the integral role of visual cognition in both artificial intelligence and robotics. The key question of her speech was related to what machine vision can do and what its implications are for studying human emotions.

Machine vision gives machines the ability to see and interpret visual input and process it at a much higher speed than a human when properly configured. With regards to emotion AI, machine vision brings new possibilities to identify human emotions at a micro-level, be it facial expression analysis or heartbeat estimation that can be traced remotely from video data.

For the learning sciences, this is a huge breakthrough, which can offer researchers a variety of ways to track and understand how students learn not only individually, but also in collaborative learning scenarios.

Multimodal data – the way forward?

At the heart of NLASI 2023 was our focus on multimodal data analysis, a tool that could enhance our understanding of teaching, learning and education. We delved into how this approach can renew our perception of learning processes and improve learning support. We also explored its impact on the decisions taken by teachers, schools, and educational institutions, discussing how multimodal analytics research can translate into evidence-based educational technology.

The vast variety of presented research from the Nordic region brings hope – together we can build solutions that will support our learners in developing their 21st century skills.

Networking at the heart of NLASI community

The conference wasn't all work and no play, though. We understand the importance of connections, of sharing ideas beyond formal presentations. This is why NLASI 2023 was interspersed with several coffee break sessions and a delightful dinner event. These networking opportunities provided participants at various levels in their academic journey with a chance to share ideas, establish new collaborations, and, most importantly, get to know each other better.

As we reflect on the success of NLASI 2023, we are immensely grateful for the enthusiasm and engagement of all participants. Their invaluable contributions, thoughtful questions, and innovative ideas enriched the event and emphasized the importance of collaborative exploration in this exciting field.

The NLASI 2023 was organized by the Learning and Educational Technology Research (LET) Lab and funded by GenZ profiling project and AI Life project.

This blog was mainly produced by us, humans & doctoral researchers, Kateryna Zabolotna & Ridwan Whitehead, with a slight assistance from ChatGPT-4.


Learning and Learning Process
University of Oulu

Kateryna Zabolotna is a doctoral researcher at the LET Lab. Her dissertation explores how socially shared regulation of learning and knowledge construction interplay and support one another in various collaborative learning contexts.

Picture of Ridwan Whitehead with sungalsses
Learning and Learning Process
Learning and Educational Technologies Research Lab
University of Oulu

Ridwan Whitehead is a doctoral researcher at the LET Lab. His research investigates socially shared regulation of learning focusing on non-verbal interactions.