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What can learning analytics do for accessibility and for disabled students' support?


I was formally (1998-2016) a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at the Open University (OU) in the UK.  It was in that context that I first started thinking about the potential of Learning Analytics in my field which is Accessibility of eLearning and Disabled Student Support.  Looking back through my work-related blog (https://martyncooper.wordpress.com/) I can see early evidence of that thinking going back to 2014. 

Early Thinking

I posted a SlideShare on “Models of Disability, Models of Learning, Accessibility and Learning Technologies” that illustrated a point with the example of learning analytics;  see Slide 10 of: https://www.slideshare.net/martyncooper/models-of-disability-models….  What I had come to realise is that provided the institution collected data on which of its students declared a disability then you can use that information, which general leaning analytics approaches, to improve access for disabled students and to target support for those that were underperforming or even were predicted to underperform.  The OU did collect that information so I began exploring what was actually possible here using historic data.

Initial Paper Introducing the Field to the World

In 2016, working with a couple of colleagues, we wrote what we believe to be a seminal paper introducing these approaches to the world.  This paper is freely available from the Open University’s repository at: http://oro.open.ac.uk/45313/.  If you are interested in this field then this paper would be a good place to start finding out more.

Ongoing Work

The same team that wrote the above-mentioned paper with a couple of additional authors are in the process of undertaking some data mock-ups and writing a journal paper for the Journal of Learning Analytics (https://www.solaresearch.org/journal/) entitled: “Data Science Promoting Inclusion in Education”.  It is anticipated that this will be submitted for peer review in February 2020.


This blog post has briefly introduced the topic of Learning Analytics for accessibility and the targeted support of disabled students.  It has pointed to published resources that have discussed this topic.  If you are interested in joining the small existing team working in this field then please post as such in the comments below.  Any other questions or points on the topic are of course also welcome.