If you think data—in education, or any field—is cut and dry, think again. Working with data in the classroom, especially, can be either exhausting or exhilarating—depending on your fitness level. Data can be big, but also quite small. It’s often quantitative, but is increasingly qualitative. It’s predictive, but not always inclusive. It’s private, but not always protected. But one thing’s for certain: data has enormous power to impact teaching and learning.
It’s also here to stay. Which is why we put together this muscle-building guide about data and education. If these kinds of discussions push you outside of your comfort zone, rest assured you’ll find inspiration and actionable advice from the classroom. One teacher set up an online store to teach his students how to work with data. Another uses playlists to break her students’ data into trackable skills and goals. A seasoned educator shares why he now thinks of grading as a scavenger hunt. And a former therapist describes his school’s efforts to assess assess social emotional growth.
Administrators will find tips on using data to hire well, assessing the efficacy of data-driven tools, addressing data clutter, and how not to run afoul of student privacy laws. And for any data divas in the crowd, we’ve got you covered with insights into open standards, predictive analytics, and the ethics of responsible use.
Scroll down the page and you’ll also find a few handy resources, including professional development opportunities for educators who work with data, a run-down of what data-focused digital tools can do, and more. We'll be adding articles over the coming weeks, so please check back soon.
Whether you’re looking to do a little light stretching or some heavy lifting, we hope our data workout gets you in shape.
-Mary Hossfeld, Guide Editor
What's in Your Workout?
Floor Routine: Teaching and Other Classroom Cardio
Pulse Check: Efficacy and Assessment
Bench Press: Privacy, Ethics and Equity
PD for Educators Working with Data
Here are a handful of professional development resources to get you started. All are self-paced; most are free. Have a suggestion? Please leave it in the Comments section at the bottom of this page.
|Teaching Channel||Data-Driven Professional Development and Using Data Effectively||videos, free, 7 - 8 minutes each|
|TERC's Using Data||Using Data for Meaningful Classroom Change||online class, $279-359, 50 hours, CEU or graduate credits|
|Harvard University||Introduction to Data Wise: A Collaborative Process to Improve Teaching and Learning||online class, free|
|WestEd||Building a Culture of Education Data Use||online class, free, 1 hour, certificate|
|iKeepSafe||Privacy Certification Course||digital class, free|
|Data Quality Campaign||Data Privacy? Get Schooled||online class, free, digital badge and certificate|
|Relay/GSE||Teaching Each Student||online class, free, 6 hours|
Teachers report that a key challenge with digital tools—and the data they collect—is the time and effort it takes to understand, adopt, and put the information they generate to use. Many believe that data-focused tools are often overwhelming, incompatible, inconsistent, and too slow. Because teachers use multiple tools to assess, analyze and pivot their teaching, they must manually integrate data from each to gain a fuller understanding of their students' learning. Below are the distinct and separate roles teachers identify among data-focused digital tools, as reported by Teachers Know Best: Making Data Work for Teachers and Students; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2015.