Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mining the Data

One of the things that struck me in the Teacher Tube Master Class presented by Jason Smith (a good few weeks back now) was if we think in limited or old ways about learning and teaching the use of technology won't transform the learning . Jason started with an idea he wanted us to grapple with; agree, disagree, and well, just not sure. 'All student learning can be captured online.' It certainly got the discussion going and the questions coming. Initially I was intrigued, I was thinking about the many ways students could (are) demonstrate their learning and how students' understandings could be assessed and their thinking made visible and the many digital forms that could be used to capture the learning online. However as the session progressed the language he used wasn't matching the possibilities I imagined. Words like, testing, standards, mining data, activities, homework, delivering education; it wasn't the language that inspired me to think of the possibilities of capturing learning online. I began to feel that the scope of how the online spaces could be used was narrowing. While the idea of capturing student learning online has immense potential to transform learning, teaching and education more broadly, I felt that the technology he was suggesting may only offer sophisticated ways to 'mine data' that already existed or create more data that captured the same learning. Education will be transformed when we think differently about learning and teaching and seek new and innovative ways to capture learning. Technology will not only enable this but will also lead us to be innovative in this endeavor.


Paul Stewart said...

Excellent post JL. The power of computers to gather and connect data will continue to grow exponentially (see my post on Moore's Law and the work of Ray Kurzweil: ) but if we see that data as a means to (inaccurately) summarise learning, we are sorely missing the point. Data-mining can be the start of learning, the beginnings of inquiry. Unfortunately, in a world shackled by conservatism, capitalism and corporate values, it will invariably be used as a tool for simplistic assessment and benchmarking, rather than the means to discovery.

To be frank, I find it difficult to swallow Smith's comments about student learning when he represents a company (TeacherTube) whose TOS has the following clause: If you are under 18 years of age, then please do not use or access the TeacherTube Sites at any time or in any manner. This is hidden in the fine-print, but to evangelise about what TeacherTube can do for students whilst having this clause to protect TeacherTube from any potential litigation is a bit hard to accept.

Whilst I'm banging on about TeacherTube, I find the lack of any links or references to Creative Commons on a site that houses more breaches of copyright than most, to be a misstep on TeacherTube's behalf. TeacherTube has much potential especially whilst the kibosh is put on YouTube in most schools. But its potential to transform learning is compromised via intrusive advertising, disingenuous claims about learning and TOS that simply cannot be supported by schools.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Language is such a give-away! You can almost smell where people are coming from judging by their terminology. It's like a team I was asked to join at my kids' school, which was supposed to investigate online learning. I started contributing stuff about transformed teaching and learning using connective technologies, but the principal wanted online courses he could sell.