What are Learning Analytics & Data Visualization and why should you care?

If you’re in education you have likely heard these terms before.

Or you soon will.

This blog post offers an introduction and overview. Even if you’re at a school that has a complete, effective system for collecting and visualizing useful data based on whole school discussions you will find something of use here. Below you will find:

  1. Some definitions of the terms
  2. A simple hierarchical model of student data collection for feedback, reflection & visualization
  3. A video detailing how each level can be tied to a Google Tool for innovative implementation
    1. This is the start of a free series tied to tutorials for skill development with weekly updates

So let’s get to it, shall we?

You can subscribe for the free training series by subscribing to this YouTube Channel.

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 16.00.57.png

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_analytics

So what? 

Why does this matter to me?

The use of learning analytics is just about taking what you already do, tracking student progress for improving outcomes, and developing systems for using this data more effectively.

No doubt, you’ve also heard of Data Visualization.

Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data. By using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps, data visualization tools provide an accessible way to see and understand trends, outliers, and patterns in data. [LINK]

So what? 

Why does this matter to me?

The trend regarding the use of learning analytics for data visualization is clear. It is mandated more and more and we are hearing the term data-driven more and more as well. Of course we are. They are one and the same.

I have developed the following hierarchical model as a tool for teachers and schools to start from the bottom up.

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 15.40.33.png

Doing this properly as a whole school requires the following:

  1. Commitment
    1. This will take time.
    2. The more faculty buy-in the better.
  2. Conversation
    1. Faculty need to be part of the development of direction and systems. 
      1. What is the data for? 
      2. What do we want to know?
      3. How will we use it?
  3. Understanding
    1. By starting out at the classroom level end users will develop understandings of the process and become more effective agents of change.
  4. Reflection
    1. As we advance to the year and department levels of implementation, times need to be set for discussion of the findings and refining of questions and input mechanisms for data sets.
  5. Dedication
    1. Not just in the sense of, “We are professionals looking to improve,” but a dedicated team needs to be put in place for managing data systems and keeping everyone on the same page.
  6. Time
    1. As with all things, starting out takes time.
      1. The longer we use these systems the more time they save in the long run.
      2. The better we serve the children in our care.

Please drop a line in the comments or if you have any questions or could use a little experienced help setting up your school.

The Introductory Video to this Free YouTube Series


About Sean Thompson

Sean is an educational technology specialist at Sacred Heart International School in Tokyo. He travels extensively across southeast Asia speaking, presenting and participating in discussions regarding the effective integration of technology in an educational setting. In 2014 he partnered up with DEEP Learning to support the team with the development, promotion and execution of professional development conferences for teachers worldwide. Sean is also an Apple Distinguished Educator, an International Baccalaureate Educator Network Workshop Leader , a Google education Trainer and a Certified Google Educator available for professional development at your school.
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