The Whole World Is Making Decisions On Data, So Why Not Education?

I was recently reading the article, Everyone is Listening, about the concerns of the latest Mattel product where Barbie can listen to your child speak and she will respond in conversation based on what is being said. It is a very cool toy and once you get past what is true and not true I am interested in what will come of this latest development in toy technology. Even bigger is the issue of privacy and how data is too much for companies to have on all of us?

This is not a rant about privacy issues or really a debate. Rather, I feel that on an almost daily basis I read articles or watch news segment about data, how it is being used, the massive amounts of money people will spend for data to make real time decisions, and more. We live in a time period where data on people is a major money opportunity if you know how to make sense of it all. The reason data is worth money is because it allows others to find problems to solve and determine if the work they are doing is actually working.

This had me thinking. If companies, government, and society as a whole recognizes that all these data points are not only important in collecting, but in making decisions and acting upon what they are gathering, then why are schools and classrooms not doing the same?

This is not a knock or slam(well, maybe a little toss). Education is the king/queen of gathering data and then gathering more data and oh wait for it ……….. gathering more data……..

*BUT rarely are decisions made in a time efficient sequence. By the time education makes a decision based on data the conditions have changed and therefore the action is irrelevant.

So, how do we(educators and schools) do the following:

1. Change the concept of the word “data” so it is not a dreaded word by educators who cringe when they hear the word as they know that they will have to tally another spreadsheet to be turned in where nothing is ever done with the data?

2. Change what data is collected so that it can be helpful for educators and students. Perhaps the notion of personalized learning could be infused here where the students are in charge of their own data and through conferencing or other methods educators help them make sense of where they are and where they want to go next?

3. Eliminate these big massive data collections where we turn in data and time runs out so in the next meeting(time frame different for all schools) the conversation about what to do with the data is a day late and a dollar short as the real time classroom has already shifted to new learning moments?

I don’t have answers. I do see issues worth exploring. However, if people can design a toy doll that can interpret the voice of a child, build up a database of thought to hold personal conversation, then we can do something just as cool in education. And for even more crazy data manipulation if Amazon Echo can blow my mind with the power one little tower can do, then how can classrooms not have the same capabilities to challenge students?

Oh yeah, this does exist and it is called TEACHERS who make these split decisions a thousand times a day! Too bad the education landscape does not consider these 100o moments of teacher input/output as data. There has to be a way to merge the data that is relevant and useful to the data that isn’t but still being used to make decisions.



* I am not talking about the data(I call this data teacher sense) teachers use every single day to make 1000 decisions about how to change this, modify that, create this, etc.

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