“‘Big Data’ and the use of analytics can provide insights into some of the gnarly challenges associated with improving equity and excellence.”(Data-driven organisations, 2016)
According to Core Education, the use of Big data and analytics is a contemporary trend that is influencing education in New Zealand and internationally. This can be seen with the use of Fitbits to measure and monitor health and fitness in PE; monitoring progress in gamification; and tracking academic progress. The reason for gathering this data is also to inform ‘next steps’. One of the assumptions associated with data use is that tracking numeracy and literacy and planning next steps will ensure success for the learner. However, the NZ curriculum states that a successful learner is a “confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learner.” Therefore as educators we need to consider monitoring more than literacy and numeracy to ensure that our next steps to help our learners are inclusive of other aspects of education such as a sense of belonging.
“One collaboration found that the most powerful predictor of student success in College remedial mathematics courses is students’ sense of belonging to their mathematics class. The teachers have now been trialling different ways to improve students’ sense of belonging.” (Data-driven organisations, 2016)
The data that is currently most relevant to my practice is its use in the academic tracking of our priority learners. At every HOL meeting this year we have analysed data and evaluated the results. We have looked for patterns and reasons for low achievement. The data we have looked at is from year 7-10 E-Asttle testing in maths and reading. We have also analysed assessment related data for years 11-13. Recently we also looked at other data related to extra curricular activities and attendance to see whether there were any patterns.
In our curriculum meetings I have presented this data to my department and asked each staff member to identify their priority learners and think about how they would help them. We then each completed a table to record our ideas. In our most recent meeting we collaborated on a Padlet to brainstorm specific ways that we could help our learners.
Collaborative Learning Approaches
According to the NMC Horizon Report (2015) collaborative learning approaches are increasing. This is not only between learners but between teachers, also. These approaches, which involve inquiry-based learning, gaming and global blogging, are proving successful, especially for less able learners.
Collaborative learning models are proving successful in improving student engagement and achievement, especially for disadvantaged students. (p. 12)
Combined with mobile devices and access to the internet, collaborative learning becomes possible anytime and anywhere. Teachers can encourage global sharing and learning also with Skype and quad-blogging. Many teachers worldwide are embracing collaboration between learners and also between themselves on social media platforms such as Twitter.
Bryan Bruce in his investigation, World Class? Inside New Zealand Education: A special report (2016) found that lower decile schools that employed a collaborative approach to learning improved the results of their learners. He also found that Inquiry-based learning was instrumental in engaging and motivating learners to take ownership of their learning. However, even though this approach has proven successful, governments are still not mandating it as a preferred model for teaching and learning. This approach to learning has been outlined as something that will be happening in 2025! I find this a bit ridiculous as many teachers are doing it now, so why is the expectation set so far in the future?
Collaborative learning is relevant in my practice as I utilise inquiry-based learning regularly. I encourage my learners to collaborate in this way and also with teams in Classcraft, an online game which promotes 21st century skills. I also use shared Google docs to gather ideas and information for different projects in our department. Google Classroom is also used to share resources and discuss ideas.
Even though collaborative learning approaches are not mandated by our government, many in my department use this approach and we also share ideas of best practice, informally. In the various groups that I am involved in, collaboration is always encouraged.
1. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/
2. Data- driven organisations. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/ten-trends/ten-trends-2016/data-driven-organisations
3. Bruce, Bryan (2016). World Class Inside New Zealand Education A special report (2016) May 23rd TV 3. Retrieved from http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/should-we-be-worried-about-nzs-education-system-2016052317#axzz49c1lscAk
4. New Zealand Education in 2025: Lifelong learners in a connected world.