We’ve been exploring data with a learning focus for a couple of years now, through examples of hack activities with data collection and visualisations as well as joining up the Internet of Things (IOT) with physical computing. Our programme of CPD (continued professional development) in Hull continues to support teachers and learners to provide an engaging and inspiring computing curriculum.
However, an emerging area of discussion and support for our schools to deliver their learning visions has been around harnessing big (and small) data in education.
From this we’ve looked to the area of learning analytics as a mechanism to support the impact of data on learning. Moreover, by asking big learning questions.
Learning Analytics in a school context
There are many definitions of learning analytics but we’ve used this one as a starting point for planning with our schools in Hull:
“the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs”
Whilst there are a plethora of studies and examples from higher education, our requirements to use learning analytics in a primary and secondary school setting started from within our own classrooms and school leadership approaches.
The notion of using data in a school environment concentrated our thoughts about some of the biggest, most important questions, which underpin education:
- What is great teaching and how do we measure it?
- What is knowledge?
- What is learning?
- How do we measure learning?
- What is pupil progress and how do we measure it?
Thinking critically about what school data is currently measuring, and what it’s trying to measure, has been fundamental to the project. How can big (and small) data provide teachers and learners with the insights they really need?
We’re using a design-based research methodology, collaborating with teachers and school leaders, to explore how data can help teachers teach and learners learn. This initial stage, with a secondary and a primary school in Hull, revolves around asking the aforementioned big learning questions at school level, at the same time as exploring big data considerations on a wider educational level.
Working with SLT teams to understand the high-level vision and strategies for their school, focus groups and interviews are in the initial phases.
To gain the holistic insight which big data principles demand, it’s also been vital to include perceptions directly from children. We’ve already worked with work with a sample of children from Y3 – Y8 to explore their views on teaching and learning within their schools.
As collaborations with teachers and leaders continue, the students involved in the project also have plans to join together through a learning project.
The older students, as ‘Learning Innovators’ will use digital technologies to capture their learning reflections over time. Of course this will generate insights for discussion, alongside initiating even more data through the online tools utilised.
Their reflections and knowledge will also be incorporated into their design of a learning activity for the younger children.
A workshop during National Careers Week, in March, is planned at the primary school. As a peer to peer learning activity, children from the primary school focus group will work with the older students to collaborate and create a piece of wearable technology.
They have risen to a challenge set by the Hull 2017 City of Culture team and will use their creativity, knowledge and skills gained from computing, design and enterprise curriculum areas to share their ‘Made in Hull’ algorithms using Codebug.
Get in touch if you have any questions.