An Analysis of Analytics [EdSurge Tips]

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An Analysis of Analytics [EdSurge Tips]

By Sam Peterson     Jul 31, 2018

An Analysis of Analytics [EdSurge Tips]

Has anyone ever criticized you for being nitpicky, focusing too much on minor details, or over-analyzing situations? Well then, you’re in luck! Those are all highly marketable assets and may be the key to your next professional upgrade.

Increasingly, the working world of today is driven by data, which means that analytical thinkers are in especially high demand. Analytics—the process of collecting, tracking, and interpreting data to form insights that will inform future decisions—was once viewed as the exclusive realm of theoretical statisticians and laboratory scientists, whereas real-world business decisions were based on gut feelings. These days, however, it’s more broadly recognized that insight holds greater value than instinct (euphemistically referred to as business acumen) when it comes to executing successful strategies across all manner of businesses. The same, of course, holds true for the business of education.

Unfortunately, “data” has become something of a four-letter word of late, due to both regrettably frequent mishandling of sensitive personal information and an overwhelming demand for more facts and figures to be collected than any of us could possibly put to use in our lifetime. But the kind of reflective, personalized, and nearly instantaneous reporting on our behavioral patterns that in-depth data analysis can provide holds a powerful allure to those attempting to solve today’s most vexing problems.

And nowhere is the need for reliable, actionable, data-informed insights more apparent than in the world of education. The mere gathering of student-based data required of schools on a regular basis—demographics, attendance, disciplinary reports, standardized test results, graduation rate...to mention only a handful—is enough to make your head spin. How do school and district leaders analyze that data effectively to ensure that it’s put to use in the most meaningful way possible?

The edtech industry is working hard to build the kind of tools that deliver the specific insights needed to empower educators and students. This is seen through such disparate approaches as applying the sabermetrics used in Major League Baseball to middle school P.E. classes, to the optimization of college financial aid packets with the help of data science, and quite literally everything in between. And most of the companies responsible for this data wrangling are always on the lookout for a very particular kind of person to help them complete that work.

Data junkie, truth seeker, well-organized, adept at analyzing, able to simplify the complex, deeply inquisitive, results-oriented, critical thinker, excellent communicator—these are just a few of the descriptors we find in the many analytics-related job postings we come across. Sound like you? If so, it’s a pretty safe bet that there’s a job in analytics waiting for you.

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