'Give students access to school data and watch them become better learners'

11th January 2017 at 14:36
big data, learning, teachers, students
'Understanding 'big data' is vital for teachers, but sharing it with students will help them develop a growth mindset and take control of their own education'

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According to the Harvard Business Review, the sexist job of the 21st Century is a data scientist: who knew? A data scientist studies information looking for trends and applications to specific businesses. There are now formal academic programs for data scientists that include computer science statistics, math and analytics. The data scientists that really stand out are the ones that can creatively communicate what they have learned in a way that influences an organization.

Many school leaders and teachers could be called data scientists as they use information to change teaching and learning. Schools create data teams to spot trends and patterns. School based teams then talk about solutions to the problems and create action plans. Starting with the school improvement plan, this data work is critical for the adults in the building.

But instead of all the adults talking about data, what would happen if we put big data into the hands of students and let them spot trends and patterns in their own learning progression?

What would happen if the students owned the data instead of just the adults? What would happen if students had their own learning playlists and could work at their own pace inside or outside of school using digital tools?

Learning anytime, anywhere, from any source is the future for our students so let’s start today teaching them how to work with their data.

If I was leading the data movement in a school today, I would start with Carol Dweck’s work around growth mindset and create a culture of growth through data. I would start with the adults in the building and keep working until everyone is talking and working with a growth mindset.

When growth mindset becomes the language of a building, great thinks can happen for learners. Big data in the hands of students is happening in some schools, but the adults in many schools need to give the gate keys to the data to students and teach even our youngest learners to be data scientists.

Meg Ormiston is an education consultant and author who specialises the using digital tools to improve teaching and learning. She can be found tweeting @megormi

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