How do I request learning data?

Instructors are not generally required to submit a request to access and use learning data for the purposes of evaluation and quality assurance (QA) / enhancement if the data being accessed and used is routinely available to faculty and other teaching team members as part of the functionality of the learning management system or other learning tools used in the course.

You should submit a data access request if you wish to access data under any of the following conditions:

  • Data will be provisioned beyond your core teaching team
  • Access to data from multiple courses is requested and will be combined
  • Learning data will be combined with personal information (e.g., from the SIS)
  • You wish to access historical data across multiple years or systems for meta-analyses
  • You wish to combine data from multiple sources
  • If you plan to work with learning data that is aggregated from different types of data

If you’re unsure whether the project you’re planning falls under Quality Assurance or Research (requiring formal Behavioural Research Ethics Board oversight), please refer to this checklist available on the UBC Office of Research Ethics website.

If you’re unsure where to get started, or don’t think your project requires a data access request, please contact the Learning Technology Hub to discuss your project and/or request guidance on the appropriate data access process. Some helpful information to include:

  • If there is a specific data source you are already aware of that contains the data, the name of that data source.
  • If you know the tool you’d like data from, but not where it comes from.
  • What question you are trying to answer, or what your project is.

How do I submit a learning data access request?

Prior to submitting a learning data request, you may find it useful to review the form and draft your responses using this copy of the request form.

If you are requesting data from a faculty or unit other than your own, please contact them for their approval before making your request. Please indicate on the application form who you consulted with, when, and whether they have approved your request. The appropriate level for approval would be the head of unit. (e.g. when requesting data from the Math department, please contact the department head, rather than the Faculty of Science.)

To submit your learning data request:

  1. Go to Access UBC Data.
  2. Select Data Access Request.
  3. Select Learning Data Access.
  4. Complete the request form.

How is my request adjudicated?

Data access requests are reviewed by the person or group responsible for that data, called a data steward. The data steward responsible for learning data is the Learning Data Committee.

As stated in Learning Analytics at UBC: Purpose and Principles, the Learning Data Committee seeks to “ensure all aspects of LA activity are pursued in a manner that is sensitive to the ethical and privacy concerns inherent in the collection, analysis and retention of this data.” However, the application of this principle is context-dependent, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Data requests are granted for one year and will be reviewed on an annual basis. If the initial request is granted and the reasons for accessing the data have not changed, applicants can submit an amendment to their initial application in subsequent years. This amendment would specify the data that will be retained and could include requests for access to additional data that falls within the scope of the initial request (e.g., the next year’s data).

Does my use of data require ethical review?

The Office of Research Ethics is responsible for monitoring and assessing applications for all research involving human participants, with the exception of quality assurance studies. Please see the Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB) checklist for more information about whether your planned use of data may require ethical review. The FAQ includes a checklist to help researchers decide whether their project constitutes research requiring review or whether their project constitutes quality assurance and does not.

If a study requires ethical review and access to data that would ordinarily be provided through a learning data access request, instructors will need to submit both a BREB application and a learning data access request.