New Report Examines the Powerful Impact of Data on K-12 Education

What if K–12 educators could apply their skills and know-how to personalize and improve education through data?

That is the central question explored in CoSN’s (Consortium for School Networking’s) summer 2014 EdTechNext report, titled “Learning Analytics: Using Data to Personalize Teaching and Learning.” Amid the growing attention to “big data,” the new report dissects the data discussion down to a granular, learner-centric level and examines its potential to collect and deliver real-time student information to create an individual learning ecosystem.

Capturing research from the U.S. Department of Education and industry insight, the report details how learning analytics can harness data streams—traditional metadata, activity streams and paradata—collected from learning and content management systems, mobile and online learning platforms and many other data sources.

The potential of learning analytics, as the report explains, to supercharge continuous improvement in student learning is unlimited and can create an incredible paradigm shift. This is only possible, however, if leaders have a vision and monitor progress along the way.

In addressing the challenges of learning analytics, the report encourages districts to consider the required technology infrastructure and tools, data quality, governance, stewardship and privacy, and the meaningful use of data. The following questions should be asked for districts to use data to inform instruction and impact day-to-day classroom practices, teaching, and learning:

For Districts, Schools, and Teachers

  • Which instructional resources do students access most during a defined timeframe (e.g., a grading period)? How and why are they useful?
  • How are students who regularly access learning resources doing academically? How does this compare to students who rarely access learning resources?
  • Which standards are high-performing, on target, and under-performing students meeting? With which standards are they struggling? What learning resources can we recommend for specific under-performing students?

For Students

  • Am I making progress and meeting expectations in my learning?
  • Which standards have I mastered? Which ones am I not on target to master?
  • What more do I need to do, and which learning resources are recommended, to help me meet learning targets?