Don't Talk to Me about Data: We Need a Universal Dashboard for Student Information

By Mageau, Therese | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), March 2013 | Go to article overview

Don't Talk to Me about Data: We Need a Universal Dashboard for Student Information


Mageau, Therese, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


A FRIEND WHO works for a big ed tech company recently told me about their newest effort to report student data to help teachers make instructional decisions.

I sort of went ballistic. "Oh great! One more company piling up data on teachers and expecting them to use it!"

She didn't deserve my tirade. But it seems to me that everything a student touches these days yields "data," and teachers are somehow supposed to spend time with it and act on it.

I have sympathy. One of the great advantages of T.H.E. Journal going digital is that now we have reader metrics that let us know which stories are read, how far into a story readers continue, which stories are forwarded, and how much time a reader spends on a page. We also have reader data on more than a dozen e-newsletters--as well as Google Analytics on our website usage.

And while we are a lot more knowledgeable about reader behavior now than we could have ever been with a print magazine, it's not that easy staying on top of lots of data from disparate systems.

If it's a challenge for me to keep up, I can't even imagine how hard it is for teachers, who have so much more data coming at them, with much higher stakes attached to it.

I am not dissing data. I was impressed by a recent New York Times story on how Netflix knew, before it launched its miniseries House of Cards, that it would be a hit. They had data: the success of British version of the show, Kevin Spacey's download numbers, and the trackable following of the director David Fincher. …

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