Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Norm Friesen, Ph.D.


Ross Perkins, Ph.D.


Steven Crowley, Ph.D.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


This study analyzes, interprets, and compares texts from different educational discourses. Using the Critical Discourse Analysis method, I reveal how texts from university mission statements and from commercial learning analytics providers communicate and construct different ideologies. To support this analysis, I explore literature strands related to public higher education in America and the emerging field of study and practice called learning analytics. Learning analytics is the administrative, research, and instructional use of large sets of digital data that are associated with and generated by students. The data in question may be generated by incidental online activity, and it may be correlated with a host of other data related to student demographics or academic performance. The intention behind educational data systems is to find ways to use data to “optimize” instructional materials and practices by tailoring them to perceived student needs and behaviors, and to trigger “interventions” ranging from warning messages to prescribed courses of study. The use of data in this way raises questions about how such practices relate to the goals and ideals of higher education, especially as these data systems employ similar theories and techniques as those used by corporate juggernauts such as Facebook and Google. Questions not only related to privacy and ownership but also related to how learning, education, and the purpose of higher education are characterized, discussed, and defined in various discourses are explored in this study.