Leveraging data - the smart way

Leveraging data - the smart way

Working with governments, ed-tech vendors have been developing a range of standard data formats and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to safely exchange information about students.

However, this is a slow process and the amount of data formats are immense.

Below, James Leckie, co-founder and director of Schoolbox, said the most significant ed-tech challenges and hindrances for principals in 2018 were around the ability to connect, transfer and enable data to flow between various systems.

“As an increasing amount of information is gathered on learners, keeping this information organised, secured, and available to those that require it, is an increasingly challenging task,” Leckie told The Educator.

“This year, we have seen an explosion in tools used to capture learner experiences, wellbeing, and academic results. In addition, there is an increasing amount of content being created that is valuable to students. All of this data, however, is being built in separate silos with no way to join it all together.”

A key part to solving this, says Leckie, is the development of standards for education data.

“The government response to this challenge is the Learning Services Architecture (LSA) initiative, which is managed by the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP) and works toward integrating the systems that track learner data,” he said.

Leckie said that through working with governments, ed-tech vendors like Alaress (the creators of Schoolbox) have been developing a range of standard data formats and APIs to safely exchange information about learners.

However, Leckie said this a slow process and the amount of data formats are immense.

“The ultimate promise of this program is to record learning activities and help schools attain quality data, which can provide key insights into how teaching and learning can be improved,” he said.

“But, even just simplifying the existing curriculum reporting process would be celebrated by most school leaders.”

Self-assessment boosts critical thinking

Leckie said one of the key components of learning and improving learning outcomes is “metacognition”, or the awareness and self-reflection on one’s own thought process.

“This year, we recognised that education technology could make a significant impact in this space, which is why we made it possible for educators to deliver self-assessment activities to learners,” Leckie said.

Self-assessment engages learners to think more critically about their education by reflecting and evaluating the quality of their work. Without technology, this can be a time-consuming process that requires extra-paperwork and tasks to complete, making it a rarely practiced activity.

“With Schoolbox, this can now be done at the flick of a switch, making self-reflection and self-assessment an almost natural progression of the assessment process,” Leckie said.

Converting data into meaningful insights

In 2019, Leckie said Schoolbox will still be heavily focused on improving learning outcomes by helping teachers capture assessment data from a range of different learning activities and tools.

“Our aim will be to centralise those activities inside a core, central platform to make it easy for educators to convert that data into meaningful insights,” he said.

“It will also mean teachers will no longer need to switch between different systems to acquire information they need, simplifying the process and saving them time.”

Beyond that, says Leckie, the company will be working to ensure students are not overloaded with assessments by enabling school leaders to track student workload across the cohort.

“Historically in schools, there has been a lack of oversight in the amount of work learners are tasked with, causing them to become overwhelmed and possibly experience a slump in academic progress,” Leckie said.

“We will be looking at supporting students and tackling disengagement by helping teachers monitor the volume of assessments.”