One big benefit of online education is that almost all student interactions and activities are captured electronically. This provides teachers and administrators with a wealth of data to help them improve teaching and learning. Not all are leveraging this potential to its full extent, though. Administrators, teachers and students themselves can reap big benefits from using student data and analytics technologies to improve teaching and learning.
Data collection in education allows school systems to track progress and trend performance over time, identify and share best practices, and gather and use student data to improve online teaching and learning. There are a number of ways systems, instructors and students can benefit from data collection in education.
Data Collection in Education
Traditionally education has been delivered through lectures, assignments, tests and quizzes—all graded manually by teachers. Today’s classroom analytics, though, make it possible to automate these processes, allowing for real-time feedback and the collection and storage of student data for later analysis. When moving to the digital or hybrid learning environment, though, it’s important for school systems to ensure they are using the right analytics technologies in education so they can benefit from enhanced functionality.
In-class assignments are an essential part of the in-person classroom experience. They allow teachers to gauge topic mastery and fine-tune classroom learning objectives. With Class, teachers can deploy an array of in-classroom assignments in real-time for students to complete and submit.
Assessments, quizzes, and tests are also important means of gathering information and enabling data analysis for teachers. Class Technologies supports multiple question types including true/false, matching, fill in the blank, and others.
To allow teachers to leverage classroom analytics in real-time to gauge student understanding of concepts being covered, polling offers an opportunity for classroom analytics and engagement. Polling offers a quick means of classroom analytics and also an opportunity to spark discussion and better engage students throughout a lesson.
Attendance Tracking and ID Verification
Digital classrooms allow for easy tracking of attendance through student login and can also provide teachers with an indication of when students entered class, left class, and their level of participation. But one of the concerns about the online or hybrid learning environment is the ability to ensure that students are who they say they are. With Class, teachers can verify that a student is who they say they are. Another useful feature is the ability to identify students who have lost focus—who do not have the Class application as their primary application on their screen. Teachers can then reach out to reengage these students.
Using digital teaching platforms like Class also offers an added benefit—the ability to quickly get to know students because their names are displayed with their faces. Teachers can easily keep tabs on students both visually and through automated tracking of their attendance and engagement.
Checking for Cheating
Teachers are understandably concerned about the potential for students to cheat on exams and other assessments. Class Technologies offers the option for proctored exams. Students can be seen side by side with a full view of their monitor to ensure they are not looking up answers. Teachers can zoom in on a live high-resolution video of the screen to check for cheating. This is also a good way to help teachers identify students who may be struggling and to assess how they approach assignments and assessments so feedback can be given to help improve performance in the future.
There also are some non-technology based best practices to help guard against cheating. Renata Nikolayev, a languages teacher with Dwight Global Online School, says: “The main thing I’ve learned about cheating while teaching online is that nothing will prevent all cheating. But by directly addressing and precluding the motivations for doing so, I’ve been able to decrease it significantly. Nikolayev works with students to create a “collaborative contract regarding academic honesty.” The students sign the contract, and it is jointly revisited throughout the year to remind them of the promise they made to her, to each other and most of all, she says, to themselves. This really is a critical factor in student and classroom assessment; in order to be relevant, assessment must be based on the student’s own work.
Another big benefit of the virtual environment and a practical application of classroom analytics is allowing the ability for students to engage in self-assessment. As Lindsey Wander, founder and CEO of WorldWise Tutoring, LLC, points out: “It is clear that students need more opportunities to develop personalized essential skills such as time management, self-assessment, accountability, and the like, along with the freedom to explore personal interests, think critically, creatively problem-solve, and innovate.”
Students, says Wander, are often not given the opportunity to take a more active role in their education. “They should feel confident enough to independently plan, implement, assess, and adjust their learning,” she says. Analytics technologies in education can help make this happen.