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Ali Türker
03/19/15

Habbits of Using Data

 

No educational system is better than its teachers. OECD is one of the largest data collecting and analysing institutions in the World. In a conference titled “EDUCATION GOVERNANCE: THE ROLE OF DATA” held by OECD where EU ministries of education participated, one of the conclusions were “Anything more complex than Excell may not be taken up.”

 

The summary of the meeting reports that a lively discussion was had around issues regarding capacity of schools, teachers, and even researchers to use these analytics tools. Not only time pressure but also habbit or even skill formation was regarded to be a critical factor in using analytics for educational decision making. Even though "research based practice" is a well-studied topic, a teacher who might choose to work in such regime needs an affective programme of training and support. Research techniques that utilize data, the care for privacy, having an eye for causality and other practical implementation issues are not commonly studied during pre-service training and not trivial for most teachers.

 

On 12-13 February 2015, in Talinn, one of the keynotes of the conference was delivered by Kim Schildcamp, from University of Twente who is running a project for training teachers in research based practice. Even though they had very promising take up in the earlier schools they started, she reports moderate success when they scaled to around 50 schools. Their approach is called “data teams” as they banded together a team of teachers with a data expert to meet reguarly and work on data. The data team would analyse data to find causes of student behaviour and outcomes, then make a thesis on what practice should work and make a prediction on its outcome. Upon implementation they revisit the data and check if the prediction holds to approve the thesis on practice. The goal of the project is to establish this research based practice after some months of routine.

 

The question of how likely it is that Learning Analytics and the use of big data would reach the classroom in a widespread manner is still outstanding. While the experts in the field feel that this would take between 3-5 years, it is sure to happen through a habituation process.  Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once a productive habit is set, it may bring increasing returns on effective teaching.

 

A recently developed mind mapping tool has allowed us to start conducting pilot studies at schools. The aim of the pilot studies is to generate data about students and to get feedback from teachers concerning the use of the mind mapping tool and the visualization of data.

The tool enables teachers to prepare their own mind maps. However, the first mind map was prepared by Scio, so that teachers could familiarize themselves with the tool more easily. The map covers certain aspects of the reading literacy and was based on a particular activity which the teachers will be doing with their students. Teachers are free to modify the mind map though, based on their own knowledge and experience.

Currently, several teachers are conducting the pilot activity with their students, learning to work with the mind mapping tool and tracking their students’ progress. Afterwards, they will be asked several questions about the use of the tool. The data generated this way together with the teachers’ feedback will help us improve the mind mapping tool and find out more about the teachers’ needs and requirements.

 Consequently, the tool can be modified to reflect the needs and requirements of teachers and their students. This will increase the probability of the tool being used in schools in the future.

 

In 2014, several focus groups were realized in order to evaluate and discuss the use of ICT in Czech classrooms. Several teachers were invited to share their experience and opinions on what devices and applications they use and to discuss what kind of data is generated during their lessons.

Overall, the teachers’ experience and opinions differed. The focus groups showed that frequency and purpose of using ICT in classrooms varies depending on the type of school, the willingness and ability of teachers to use modern technologies and other factors.

Among the technologies mentioned most often were interactive whiteboards and PCs. The use of interactive whiteboards is viewed mostly positively, allowing teachers to use a variety of educational materials on Youtube or other websites. As for tablets, these are not use so frequently, even though there are some initiatives focused on incorporating tablets into lessons. However, tablets are usually used by teachers rather than students themselves.

As for the applications and websites, teachers mentioned, among others, Dropbox, Classdojo and Edumondo. Overall, teachers use such applications to make quizzes rather than to track students’ progress in the long term.

 In conclusion, the use of ICT and online applications in Czech schools differs from school to school. ICT and online applications are a complement rather a substitute of traditional learning and assessment methods. More discussions with teachers are necessary in order to determine their needs and requirements as far as ICT and online applications are concerned.

 

Here are some additional events which might be interesting for you:

The 13th International Conference on Formal Concept Analysis will take place in Nerja (Málaga), Spain, from the 23rd to the 26th of June.  Further details can be found at http://www.matap.uma.es/icfca2015/.

And the 12th International Conference on Concept Lattices and their Applications will take place in Clermont-Ferrand, France, from the 13th to the 16th of October. There is still the opportunity to submit papers until Begin of June: http://cla2015.isima.fr/cfp.

Christina Steiner
03/11/15

Get ready, only few days left...

... until the 5th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference, 16-20 March 2015 in Poughkeepsie, New York!

It is THE event, where the learning analytics community meets, to exchange and discuss recent trends, latest developments, and existing challenges.

The LEA's BOX project will be represented at the conference in the sessions 'VISLA15: VISual Approaches to Learning Analytics' and 'Ethics and Privacy in Learning Analytics (#EP4LA)', to present some of the advancements in the project in the first project year. Don't miss it!

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Lea's Learning Analytics Blog

Learning analytics, educational data mining, formative assessment - all recent buzz words in educational research. In principle, the idea is to find theoretical frameworks, models, procedures, and smart tools to collect, aggregate, analyze, reason on and visualize large scale educational data. LEA’s BOX is a research and development project funded by the European Commission. The project aims at (a) making educational assessment and appraisal more goal-oriented, proactive, and beneficial for students, and (b) at enabling formative support of teachers and other educational stakeholders on a solid basis of a wide range of information about learners. That means, LEA’s BOX is a learning analytics toolbox that is intended to enable educators to perform competence-centered, multi-source learning analytics. More info at http://www.leas-box.eu!

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