Big Data Can Help Teachers Better Their Classrooms
As technology plays a bigger role in the classroom, so too does the role of big data. From e-books, games, online homework assignments, and digital tests, data is constantly being generated that can give a better picture of the learning process. It’s time to put all that data to use.
What many teachers and education professionals may not realize is that they can use this data to improve their classrooms and schools. The wealth of information generated by this technology can help them see patterns that will help their students learn and their lessons become more efficient. This can be done on both micro and macro levels.
Colorado has already started seeing ways data can help their school districts. In 2009, they were awarded a federal grant that helped them measure schools by performance growth rates instead of absolute performance. Officials were then able to expand the program to a larger demographic with the intention of letting them see how specific academic programs contributed to success later in life. This helped them structure classes and their curriculum based on what would actually help their students the most.
Educational data sets can achieve positive change on a personal level as well. Data helps researchers understand broad patterns, but it can also help tailor to individual students. They can determine which topics engage student learning the most, as well as what type of lessons are more effective at fostering student understanding.
Many classrooms may already be equipped for data collection, even if administrators aren’t aware. If a school uses online homework assignments, quizzes, and projects, there’s already a wealth of data that can be analyzed. How long each student took to work on an assignment versus the amount of questions they got right, how soon they took on the next topic, and the ability to determine if a student handed in work of their own are all useful tools when it comes to helping educators better their classrooms.
Big data works based when it is placed in the hands of the teachers. Analyzation of these topics can help them determine a strategy for handling each individual student. Certain patterns can reveal if a student needs extra help, or perhaps consultation with a counselor. Knowing when a student is comfortable stepping up to the next topic is another vital piece of information that can help teachers pace their lessons. Data can also help teachers see when a student is at risk of failing or dropping a course, long before the quarter’s grades are in.
The art of teaching is a humanitarian skill that can’t be replaced by computers, nor can students simply be compartmentalized based on grades or numbers. Big data is simply another tool that educators can use to see patterns they might not be privy to during the school day, ones that can make way for important discussion and a better learning environment.
In order for all of this data to be useful, it has to be collected, analyzed, and compared to other data sets. Venture Development Center is a full service data consulting firm. If you think data can help your classroom, feel free to get in contact with us, or leave a comment below, and we’ll help take your classroom into the 21st century.