Chris Millet

Social Network Diagram for Blog Analytics Dashboard

This is a basic visualization is a network diagram representing the interaction between students via blog comments in a writing-intensive course with which I ran a research study.  In this diagram:

  • Each node represents a student, and each connection represents a comment between two students.
  • The size of the node reflects the number of connections (comments) that node (person) has.
  • The arrows represent directionality, i.e. arrows to a node mean someone commented on that student’s blog, away from a node mean that student commented on another person’s blog.  Or in other words, if a node only has arrows pointing to it, and none away from it, that student only received comments but never made any themselves.

(click to zoom in)

The purpose of this visualization is to demonstrate one tool that could be included in a blog-based  analytics dashboard to help instructors understand the interactions happening within his or her class.

For instance, this would make it easy for faculty to identify:

  • students who are not interacting much (small nodes on the edge) or are very active (large, central nodes)
  • students who comment a lot but don’t attract many comments (no arrows to them)

Instructors could then dig deeper to determine if there’s a problem with group dynamics, or a student’s writing is poor (thus not attracting responses), or if there is a particularly interesting post that should be highlighted as model for other students.  This could also be turned around and viewed by students to help them understand how their activity relates to the rest of the class, which could improve self-monitoring and self-regulation in future writing assignments.  Ideally this diagram would be interactive, allowing instructors to click on individual students to see their activity within the actual blogging environment.

A visualization such as this would clearly need to be interpreted by the instructor, and shouldn’t be used for grading purposes, but rather would serve as one tool among many for shedding light their students’ learning process.

One Comment

  1. chrismillet says:

    PSU people can join the conversation in the Yammer network here:

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