Big Data in education by @DragonLearn

I am and have worked in the software industry for more than a decade now, and in the last few years around big data.

Big data is a nice buzzword, but in truth there is so much noise that it’s actually quite hard to distinguish between genuine things and random stuff.

But in case of education when I say big data I mean student related, then class aggregated, then school aggregated, then district (borough) aggregated data.

It start out with pupil data. It’s not big, although by end of KS2, having been in the system for so many years it will accumulate.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Dora Kalmar and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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What makes up this data? At the moment input from the teachers in some form of LMS (Learning Management System). Mostly grades, major test results (% or grade). The problem is that it’s more about capturing a moment in time, and then doing that again and measuring these 2 distinct events. I always argued that what if the kid was feeling scatterbrained or low or excited or whatever on that day? The measurement will be off. As if going for a wedding dress fitting after a 12 course meal, bloated and then don’t understanding why the dress looks crap on the big day….

But aside of – in my opinion – potentially skewed datasets, it’s also that the progress might vanish, because of outside reasons like not having a good night’s sleep…

Today tech is at a point where app developers could be focusing on not just gathering all that data, but adding meaning to it, and making it usable for teachers.

I am sure that loads of teachers would welcome the idea to have a continual assessment of the child through recording progress of tasks in class by using digital devices. And there are companies that provide dashboards where developers of any app can connect to easily.

So why aren’t they taking off as they should be?

  1. As much as teachers might like it, they have to do formal assessments and almost no one is really interested in continual assessment. Headmasters want KS1 and KS2 students to excel in the SATs, and from there upwards all data is focused around this
  2. Teachers have to use the LMS systems because of A.) it’s already there B.) other admin happens on them as well C.) they are told to use it. Maintaining or even just following  dashboards and assessment systems is hard and is extra work.

I think the big question now is, how can we get every participant to see that a continuous assessment will make their life easier and better in the long run?

And who will come up with a solution that solves most problems?

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