It seems that we are awash in data in education, especially edtech, lately. I’m a big data junkie, so I find it tremendously exciting. With the advances in technology we have the opportunity to collect real-time performance data at a level of detail that just wasn’t possible before. And with good data and people who understand what those data mean, well, the possibilities just seem endless for how we can improve and individualize instruction for kids.
But something has been nagging at the back of my mind for a while now about all of these data. It’s not the usual thing…I’m not particularly concerned about privacy. I don’t spend time worrying about the commoditization of learning. And I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories about the so-called “big data” companies getting rich off the backs of kids and teachers.
What I do think about is the abilities of the people who are analyzing and reporting on those data to really understand what the data mean. I wanted to share three stories of data misuse or misinterpretation that I’ve encountered over the course of my career to give you an idea of why this concerns me. Needless to say, some of the details have been modified slightly to protect people’s identities.