There has recently been considerable interest in the field of learning analytics in the visualisation of educational data (e.g., Tervakari et al., 2014; Verbert et al., 2014). Much of the visual learning analytics research relates to tracking user activity, behaviour or interaction with others, having grown from the fields of big data, educational data-mining and information visualisation; and this type of information can be used, for example, for making some kind of educational recommendation (Duval, 2011). Our aim with the NEXT-TELL ‘independent open learner model’ approach is to complement such work, and go beyond the visualisation of activity, performance or learner-learner interaction data, to highlight the potential for visualisations based on diagnoses of learner competencies. The newer field of learning analytics and the more established, but still developing work on open learner models are beginning to be discussed together (e.g., Durall & Gros, 2014; Ferguson, 2012; Kalz, 2014; Kay & Bull, 2015), and it is likely that the two approaches will benefit from each other: learning analytics from approaches to measuring learning that are central to learner modelling; and open learner modelling from the work in learning analytics on visualisation of potentially big data.