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Part 7 of my Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012 series

I chose “data” as one of the top trends of 2011, and the opening line of that article reads “If data was an important trend for 2011, I predict it will be even more so in 2012.” Indeed. There’s a great deal that happened in 2012 that’s a continuation of what we saw last year — enough that I could probably just copy-and-paste from the article I wrote back then:

More of our activities involve computers and the Internet, whether it’s for work, for school, or for personal purposes. Thus, our interactions and transactions can be tracked. As we click, we leave behind a trail of data–something that’s been dubbed “data exhaust.” It’s information that’s ripe for mining and analysis, and thanks to new technology tools, we can do so in real time and at a massive, Web scale.


There’s incredible potential for data analytics to impact education. We already collect a significant amount of data about school and students (attendance, demographics, test scores, free and reduced lunches, and the like), but much of it is administrative and/or siloed and/or unexamined.


…Despite the promise of personalized learning through analytics and data, what we’ve actually seen this year is an increasing emphasis on standardization (or rather, standardized testing). And as such, most of the stories about education data this year have been stories about testing. Stories about dismal test scores. Stores about teachers’ performance tied to those student test scores. Stories about cheating.

It’s no wonder that talk about “data” (or its variation “data-driven”) continues to make lots of folks shudder.

What Counts as “Education Data”?


”It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” – William Bruce Cameron (1963)

But what do we mean by “education data”? And do we risk, as the Cameron quote (often attributed to Einstein) suggests, valuing the wrong thing by focusing on certain data and certain measurements?

You can read the rest of this article here

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Audrey Watters


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