The Teacher Dashboard

I read most of this study before writing this post. I didn’t finish reading because I had an idea and am thus babbling about it in an attempt to solidify it.

Anyone who has read a little bit about blended learning knows that it’s better than strictly forward facing or strictly online learning. There’s proof, I talked about it in my last post. The study I read was sponsored by Google who invested in/gave a grant to Khan Academy, so it’s no surprise that the blended learning model used Chromebooks and Khan Academy and that the results are mostly positive. But if you look past the fact that the paper is inherently bias, there are some good points about how blended learning leads to more individual learning and more precise facilitator support. This study found that the teacher’s role remains of utmost important, despite the fact that that role has changed quite dramatically with the proliferation of technology in the classroom.

Even for the educators working in the “informal” learning space, there’s likely a need for educators to assess and record learning. My current quandary is whether or not something like a teacher dashboard would be useful in these informal learning contexts. Jess Klein did this cool sketch of what the learners dashboard on Webmaker + might look like.

I wonder if a slightly different dashboard that allowed an educator to pull in data from each learner and see that data displayed as a kind of “classroom” gauge would be useful. If the student data was easily accessible for the educator, would it help him or her target where students are having problems and tailor her guidance? I think it would.

There are obvious privacy concerns, but I think that could be overcome by allowing learners/parents to opt in to allowing the educator access to the data each learner has.

What if an educator could create curriculum using a variety of online content and portals and there were a software that collected the learner data in a single dashboard? What if an educator could view the badges learners earned, the challenges they’d completed on P2PU, their learning path through Khan Academy, their paths through Webmaker content, their activities on Codecademy, their process through Webmaking – all in a single display that allowed the educator to zero in on individual learners and have continuous insight into who is stuck where? What if an educator could use this dashboard to tell others about activities that work really well or downright suck?

It’s just a random idea, and to be honest, I don’t know what the need is for such a thing, particularly for “informal” educators. Would love to hear what you all think.

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  6 comments for “The Teacher Dashboard

  1. August 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Sounds good to me. I have to say that I’m impressed by the way that Khan Academy has developed over the last year. It doesn’t quite meet the hype, and it’s far from an educational panacea, but it’s certainly useful in the right hands.

    One of the things that Khan Academy seems to do well is to show educators in a visually-obvious way where and how learners require intervention.

    That’s *totally* something we can build into a Mozilla Webmaker dashboard. :-)

    • Laura Hilliger
      August 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      Agreed, Khan Academy has some wicked awesome data visualizations. Building those for the learner is kind of in scope for Webmaker+ (see Jess’s post). Building aggregation of learner data for an educator – less so. But it would certainly make knowing where intervention not just for individual learners, but also the group as a whole, more fluid. Question is whether it’s something educators want/need. Or are they happy looking over each learner’s shoulders.

  2. August 16, 2012 at 1:11 am

    Laura, I was impressed with the research report’s attempt to distinguish that their findings were not statistically valid due to their small n; however, they still reached some interesting conclusions. Like you, I wondered if a dashboard like this could be useful to an educator. Of course there are Big Brother concerns writ large all over that concept. That said, I wrote in my own notes, “Visual representation of a taxonomy of learning may prove useful.” I meant that not only for the students but also the teachers as well. The thing that Khan Academy is achieving so nicely is the visual representation of learning. We are primarily visual animals with a significant portion of our brain associated with processing visual stimuli. I’m a huge proponent of graphic representations (when they do not alter or color the underlying data). And yet as a counterpoint, I noted in my scribblings that the researchers also found that the teachers were sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer amount of learning data that KA presented them. “As teachers start using multiple products in a class or as schools blend technology into multiple courses, it becomes increasingly hard to make sense of all the data” (p.8) This is also something that we’ll have to contend with as more informal environments make use of the affordances of cheap data collection possibilities.

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