Shane Dawson mentions a significant barrier to the adoption of learning analytics: lack of understanding about what learning analytics is:

the speed at which the research is being performed … and some fantastic journal articles [are] coming out now in the learning sciences … it’s outstripping the reality of where organisations can go in the short term … We’re really going to have to work hard to keep senior managers – the leaders who are making decisions around policy around learning analytics for an institution – informed and integrated with this community. Otherwise we’ll ostracise ourselves.

There has been somewhat of a ‘revolt against the quantification of education’ at Stefan Mol’s institution, the University of Amsterdam, which is struggling to define learning analytics:

One of the more senior people said ‘we can spend 100,000 Euros on this or we can spend 40 million Euros on this’. Within the university it’s not yet fully understood what LA can contribute or how to calculate a return on investment.

Institutional culture is mentioned by a number of the interviewees as being a serious barrier to the development of learning analytics. Bart Rienties sums up the primary challenge:

If I’m really honest it’s not data or technologies, it’s people.

Even if you can identify where learners are getting stuck, he says:

how can you then convince students and teachers to change whatever they’re doing, either starting later or taking a different route … Even if you provide hard evidence to the teachers there’s a problem of how can you convince them to change.

Bart notes that there is a fundamental challenge in that there are big financial benefits for institutions in retaining students who are at risk of attrition, yet there is no system of incentives in place for individual instructors to use the analytics to keep those students in the system.