Learning Analytics Strategy: Lessons Learned from Euro 2020

The Watershed team is mainly based in Nashville, Tennessee, but there are a couple of us on the other side of the pond in England. There’s been a lot of excitement over here the last few weeks as the England soccer team (we call it football) have been doing uncharacteristically well in the postponed-due-to-COVID Euro 2020 Championship. England reached the final against Italy and, despite not being a huge sports fan, I decided to watch the match and cheer them on. What follows is a tongue-in-cheek review of the two teams, and some suggestions of how that might relate to getting started with learning analytics.

England: Betting The Whole Hog

We’re big fans of mixed metaphors here at Watershed. And one of those metaphors is “betting the whole hog,” which means to give something all your effort and to hold nothing back. Well, the England team certainly started the game “betting the whole hog” and giving it everything they had. They were passionate, enthusiastic, and desperate to win. This drive paid off, and they scored the first goal of the match when Luke Shaw, a defender, ran the length of the field to put the ball in the back of the net after less than two minutes of game time.

L&D Lesson: Push Beyond Your Comfort Zone

When launching learning analytics in your organization, some initial passion and enthusiasm can go a long way and get you some early wins (which can help with gaining stakeholder buy-in). You need drive and energy to overcome obstacles and win over stakeholders. Like Shaw, a defender going on the attack, you may also need to be prepared to get outside your comfort zone and add learning analytics to your repertoire alongside your instructional design skillset (e.g. reading this blog post is a great start).

Build Stamina Into Your Learning Analytics Strategy

As the game went on, England’s initial enthusiasm started to wane. They had no hog left to bet. The players began to tire or suffer knocks. Kieran Trippier, a key player who assisted Shaw with that first goal was subbed off. The team that played so well at the start of the game began to struggle, conceded a goal, and ultimately lost the match.

L&D Lesson: Keep the Momentum Going

If you’re not careful, it’s possible to lose the initial enthusiasm for learning analytics in the same way. Other priorities creep in, or key team members leave the company or are promoted out of the team. How can you avoid these events from derailing your learning analytics implementation? The Italian team provides an example we can follow.

Italy: Planning for the Long Game

In contrast to England, the Italian team didn’t seem to be in too much of a rush to score a goal. They kept largely to their positions and focused on keeping possession of the ball, passing between themselves to keep the English players running while they themselves conserved their energy for later in the game. They stuck to this consistent plan and strategy throughout the game, even as they subbed different players on and off the field—ultimately winning the game on penalties exactly as they had done in their semi-final game against Spain.

L&D Lesson: Create a Long-Term Plan

When it comes to implementing learning analytics in your organization, initial passion and enthusiasm will only get you so far. To be successful in the long run, you need a clearly defined plan and strategy that you can continue to follow even when the initial excitement wears off and as team members are replaced.

A High-Scoring Strategy

In the Euro 2020 Final, England’s enthusiasm and energy led to an early goal and initial celebration, but Italy’s carefully paced strategy ultimately led to success in the long term. When it comes to implementing learning analytics in your organization, we certainly don’t want to dampen your early excitement—but some careful thinking about how that will be sustained over time, even if the team changes, will help you keep the momentum going and achieve your long-term goals.

Define Your Learning Analytics Strategy

How do you begin defining your strategy? Well, our 5 Steps to Get Started with Learning Analytics guide is a great place to start!

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eGuide: 5 Steps to Getting Started with Learning Analytics

Now that you understand the basics of analyzing learning experiences, it's time to start applying them in your own learning program. And it's easier than you might think. In fact, there’s a lot you can do with simple metrics and the data you have right now. We've also created the following guide to help you get started right now!

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