Dr. Leah Macfadyen

Associate Director, MET Program


Leah Macfadyen is a tenure track Instructor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education, Faculty of Education, The University of British Columbia, and Associate Director of and Instructor in the UBC Master of Educational Technology Program (met.ubc.ca). She is a broad-ranging interdisciplinarian, with graduate degrees in the experimental sciences and in the humanities and social sciences. Dr Macfadyen’s early eLearning research drew on her interest in theories of culture and intercultural communication, and was motivated by the reality of our increasingly diverse learner audience. Latterly, the rising tide of learning data captured by learning technologies, and the emergence of the field of learning analytics, spurred Dr Macfadyen to also bring her analytic and scientific skills to the study of virtual learning. Her research – qualitative and quantitative – has been published in respected peer-reviewed journals in several fields (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Leah_Macfadyen/contributions). In parallel Dr Macfadyen has also invested time in developing and teaching experiential and (hopefully) transformative learning experiences on topics such as sustainability, systems thinking and global issues.

Dr Macfadyen is inspired by the potential for learning analytics to offer actionable insights into our teaching and learning contexts and practice: who our learners are and how that has changed over time, what choices our learners make and how that affects outcomes, and how design and teaching innovations impact learner behavior and learning outcomes. She is also keen, however, to engage researchers and practitioners in ongoing critical discussions about the limits of ‘big data’, the challenge of data literacy, and the ethical and social implications of this work.

Selected Publications


Cheong, P. H., Martin, J. & Macfadyen, L. P. (2012). New Media and Intercultural Communication: Identity, Community and Politics. New York: Peter Lang.

Macfadyen, L. P., Roche, J. & Doff, S. (2004). Communicating across Cultures in Cyberspace: A Bibliographical Review of Online Intercultural Communication. Hamburg: Lit-Verlag.


Macfadyen, Leah. P. (2017). Overcoming Barriers to Educational Analytics: How Systems Thinking and Pragmatism Can Help. Educational Technology, 57 (1), 31-39.

Macfadyen, L. P., Dawson, S., Gašević, D. & Prest, S. (2015). Whose feedback? A multilevel analysis of student completion of end-of-term teaching evaluations. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 1-19. doi: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1044421

Ferguson, R., Macfadyen, L. P., Clow, D., Tynan, B., Alexander, S., & Dawson, S. (2014). Setting learning analytics in context: Overcoming the barriers to large-scale adoption. Journal of Learning Analytics, 1(3), 120-144. http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/JLA/article/view/4077/442

Macfadyen, L. P., Dawson, S. Pardo, A., & Gašević, D. (2014). Embracing Big Data in Complex Educational Systems: The Learning Analytics Imperative and the Policy Challenge. Research & Practice in Assessment, 9, 17-28. http://www.rpajournal.com/dev/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/A2.pdf

Macfadyen, L. P. & Dawson, S. (2012). Numbers are Not Enough. Why e-Learning Analytics Failed to Inform an Institutional Strategic Plan. Educational Technology & Society, 15 (3), 149-163. http://www.ifets.info/journals/15_3/11.pdf

Dawson, S., Macfadyen, L., Lockyer, L. & Mazzochi-Jones, D. (2011). Using social network metrics to assess the effectiveness of broad based admission practices. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(1), 16-27. https://ajet.org.au/index.php/AJET/article/view/979

Macfadyen, L. P. (2011). Perils of Parsimony: The Problematic Paradigm of ‘National Culture’. Information, Communication and Society, 14: 2, 280-293, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2010.486839

Macfadyen, L. P., & Dawson, S. (2010). Mining LMS data to develop an ‘‘early warning system” for educators: A proof of concept. Computers & Education, 54:588-599. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.09.008

Macfadyen, L. P. (2008). “A Scottish Person Supporting England is an Impossibility”: Reflections on World Cup Mania and Scottish National Identity. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 3 (6): 185-191.

Macfadyen, L. P. (2008). Diaspora and Denial? Holocaust Accounts of a Polish Community in Exile. International Journal of the Humanities, 6 (5): 57-64.

Macfadyen, L. P. (2006). Virtual Ethnicity: The new digitization of place, body, language, and memory. Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education, 8 (1).

Weiss-Lambrou, R., & Macfadyen, L. P. (2005). Soutien du corps professoral dans une initiative d’enseignement avec les technologies de l’information et de la communication à l’Université de Montréal. International Journal of Technologies in Higher Education, 2(1), 59-61. http://www.ritpu.org:81/img/pdf/ritpu_0201_weiss_lambrou.pdf

Macfadyen, L. P. (2005). From the Spoken to the Written: The Changing Cultural Role of Folk and Fairy Tales. Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies, X(1): 143-153.

Reeder, K., Macfadyen, L. P., Chase, M. and Roche, J. (2004). Negotiating Culture in Cyberspace: Participation Patterns and Problematics. Language Learning and Technology , 8(2): 88-105.

Chase, M., Macfadyen, L.P., Reeder, K. and Roche, J. (2002). Intercultural Challenges in Networked Learning: Hard Technologies Meet Soft Skills. First Monday, 7(8) (August 2002)


Cheong, P. H., Martin, J. & Macfadyen, L. P. (2012). Introduction: Mediated Intercultural Communication Matters: Understanding New Media, Dialectics, and Social Change. In P. Cheong, J. Martin and L. P. Macfadyen (Eds.), New Media and Intercultural Communication: Identity, Community and Politics (pp. 1-16). New York: Peter Lang.

Macfadyen, L. P. & Hewling, A. (2011). How the earth moved. ‘Difference’ and transformative learning in an online course on global citizenship. In R. Land & S. Bayne (Eds.), Digital Differences: Perspectives on Online Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Macfadyen, L. P. (2009). Being and learning in the online classroom: Linguistic practices and ritual text acts. In M. N. Lamy & R. Goodfellow (Eds.), Learning Cultures in Online Education. UK: Continuum Press.


Macfadyen, L. P. (2017). What Does a Learning Analytics Practitioner Need to Know? Joint Proceedings of the Workshop on Methodology in Learning Analytics (MLA) and the Workshop on Building the Learning Analytics Curriculum (BLAC), co-located with 7th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference (LAK 2017), Vancouver, Canada, March 13th-14th, 2017.

Macfadyen, L. P., Groth, D., Rehrey, G., Shepard, L., Greer, J., Ward, D., Bennett, C., Kaupp, J., Molinaro, M. & Steinwachs, M. (2017). Developing institutional learning analytics ‘communities of transformation’ to support student success. In Proceedings of the Seventh International Learning Analytics & Knowledge Conference, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 13 – 17, 2017 (pp. 498-499). ACM New York, NY, USA. doi: 10.1145/3027385.3029426

Macfadyen, L. P. (2016). Using EventFlow and CoCo to explore classroom activity patterns and learner performance. In Proceedings, Putting Temporal Analytics into Practice: The 5th International Workshop on Temporality in Learning Data. University of Edinburgh, Scotland, April 25th 2016.

Clow, D., Ferguson, R., Macfadyen, L. P., Prinsloo, P., Slade, S. (2016). LAK Failathon. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Learning Analytics And Knowledge, Edinburgh, Scotland, April 2016 (pp. 509-511). ACM New York, NY, USA.

Haythornthwaite, C., Paulin, D., Macfadyen, L.P. & Gilbert, S. (2015). Social Network Analysis of UBC MOOCs: Illuminating Learning Networks. Learning With MOOCs- II, October 2-3, 2015, Teachers College, Columbia University, NY, USA.

Roll, I., Macfadyen, L. P. & Sandilands, D. (2015). Evaluating the Relationship Between Course Structure, Learner Activity, and Perceived Value of Online Courses. In Proceedings, Second (2015) ACM Conference on Learning @ Scale, Vancouver, BC, Canada, March 14-18, 2015.

Dawson, S., Macfadyen, L. P., Risko, E., Foulsham, T. & Kingstone, A. (2012). Using technology to encourage self-directed learning: The Collaborative Lecture Annotation System. In Proceedings, ASCILITE 2012, Wellington, New Zealand, November 2012.

Dawson, S., Macfadyen, L. P. & Lockyer, L. (2009). Learning or performance: Predicting drivers of student motivation. In Proceedings, ASCILITE 2009, Auckland, New Zealand, December 2009.

Macfadyen, L. P. (2006). In a world of text, is the author King? The revolutionary potential of wiki (open content) technologies. In F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec and C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings, Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication, Tartu, Estonia, 28 June-1 July 2006 (pp. 285-298). Murdoch University: Perth, Australia.

Reeder, K., Macfadyen, L. P., Chase, M. and Roche, J. (2004). Falling Through the Cultural Gaps? Intercultural communication challenges in cyberspace. In Proceedings, Cultural Attitudes to Technology and Communication, Karlstad, Sweden, June 2004. Murdoch University: Perth, Australia.

Macfadyen, L. P., Chase, M., Reeder, K. and Roche, J. (2003). Matches and Mismatches in Intercultural Learning: Designing and Moderating an Online Intercultural Course. In Proceedings, UNESCO Conference on International and Intercultural Education, Jyväskylä, Finland, June 2003.

Macfadyen, L.P. (2003). Intercultural and International Education via the Internet: Success Stories from Canada. In Proceedings, UNESCO Conference on International and Intercultural Education, Jyväskylä, Finland, June 2003.