If you follow any kind of sport--be it football, basketball, hockey or tennis--analytics or data analysis or data mining has become an integral part, especially in how to make better players, make the sport more exciting, or how to attract more customers to watch the games. If you can believe that today's smartphones have more computing power than Apollo 11, the rocket that went to the moon, then you can see how today's computers can crunch and analyze mountains of data, and synthesize and spit out much smaller piles of useful information. Of course, large corporations, such as Google and IBM, have probably been using analytics for quite some time now.
I was wondering if the same can be applied in the educational/teaching field. I think if we equate analytics with testing or evaluation, then I think there's a lot going on, but in a variety of methods. As a teacher, I do accumulate quite a bit of data on each of my students, including their behaviors, attitudes, and, of course, marks and grades on a variety of assignments and projects. What I don't see is having huge databases that can take all that data, compile it, and then use it to analyze trends and, more importantly, have predictive ability--to know where they might struggle or have success. On a smaller scale, yes; but, on a larger scale, not so much. I think some programs or apps, such as FreshGrade and others, do try to capture data, and do so with different measures of success and for different purposes, such as communicating ongoing learning with parents and students. Others might give more statistical analysis on specific skill breakdowns.
I think analytics is growing approach in many fields, and it's one that may carry more weight in the educational field in the future. The only concern is we need to be careful not to turn our unique individuals into simply 0s and 1s in a computer.
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.