Empowering Teachers with Learning Analytics
There is no doubt but that big data is better data; the only question is how best to apply this insight into the classroom. There are definitely best practices—and other habits to be avoided—in the effort to empower teachers with data analytics.
Big Data, Easily
The entire topic of data analytics can be intimidating for teachers. There is an understandable reluctance to adopt the latest educational fad, often combined with a discomfort with the mathematical and scientific aspects of the enterprise.
The key to making the transition to being a data-savvy teacher is to start small and see how an easy, simple data analytics process can improve classroom outcomes. For example, a teacher could add instant polling applications to their normal slide presentation, using Poll Everywhere or a similar tool, instead of asking one student for the correct answer.
Teachers will quickly realize that some problems don’t need review—everyone in the room already understands them. Additionally, they can see precisely which kinds of errors their students make. Errors are not random, but rather reveal misconceptions. With better data, teachers can more easily assess what problems students have and respond to them in real time.
Another super-simple way to ease into the world of data analytics is with a basic form, such as a teacher can create in Google Forms. While the uses of Google Forms for data analytics are nearly infinite, one simple approach would be to ask students to assess their own performance on the last test through a few standard questions, such as, “What concept was most difficult for me?” or “What topic should I have studied more?” Not only is this kind of exercise in metacognition beneficial for students, but teachers can quickly examine the data gathered from this process in order to determine which topics need reteaching.
How Not to Do Data Analytics
What is unlikely to work is a complicated, top-down, math and statistics heavy approach to data analytics that teachers are ordered to use. By now, we should know that without buy-in from the teachers in the classroom, no edtech—or any other reform, for that matter—is likely to be successful. But allowing teachers to choose to start small and simple with data analytics will give them a chance to experiment and see the benefits for themselves. Once they do that, they will naturally want to explore even more and see what else data analytics can do to super charge their classrooms.