Big Data for Education: Data Mining, Data Analytics, and Web Dashboards

“Using analytics, we discovered when it’s drizzling outside, people eat more cake.”

You might’ve seen this IBM commercial: the quaint European bakery, the soothing narrator’s voice, and the iconic IBM-blue letterboxing. The message is simple—use data analytics and improve performance (oh, and by the way, IBM is pretty darn good at data).

In his review of schools’ use of technology and data, Darrell West of the Brookings Institution poses an IBM-style question to schools: what are you doing to utilize data to improve performance? West hints that, really, there is no excuse for schools not to use data. In fact, according to West, schools should use data, and that yes, there are multiple ways that schools can use data.

West enumerates a laundry-list of research on classroom technology. One pathway that technology can improve classroom performance is in reducing the teacher-student feedback loop. Students, for example, can take informal, online assessments that give teachers on-the-spot results, so they can take immediate interventions in a student’s education.

Selling technology as a solution for classroom management will likely be the next step in the more-widespread implementation of technology. And like a good sales pitch, West’s report provides evidence, ideas, and suggestions about how technology can benefit schools when they apply technology in their classrooms.

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