Using Data to Support Personalized Learning Pathways
By Stacey Pusey
What skills and training do businesses want from the next generation of workers? That’s the question leaders in the Foster-Glocester Regional School District (RI) asked as they reimagined education for the 21st century. More important—how do they make sure students are succeeding with this new plan? During an edLeader Panel, sponsored by CatchOn, An ENA Affiliate, Eric Butash, Director of Education Technology and Data Integration for the district, discussed how they used data analytics to build their personalized student learning pathways.
First, the district built a data governance team. In addition to the typical members, like the director of assessment, principals, and director of data management, the team has broader community representation including subject-area directors, union leaders, and school board members. Since the administrators could be blinded by their specific needs and areas of focus, they brought in a diverse group that could address everything the community needs.
Next, they surveyed the educators. Administrators wanted to know what data the teachers were using, what data they wanted that they didn’t have, how easy it was to access, and how often they used it. By creating a picture of the current data landscape, the data team could figure out where they needed to go.
Then, they needed to look at the data governance: Who has access to what data and where? With so much information being collected, there’s a danger that a teacher or administrator could see data that’s not necessary to their job and could compromise privacy laws. To address this, the data team created policies that emphasize legitimate educational interest for each situation. The goal is to have procedures that are proactive rather than just reactive and making it up for each situation.
Once they determined who could access the data, the team examined how the data connects, which impacts both efficiency and accuracy. What they found was several instances of manual entry as well as custom imports and exports. They needed to find a way for their systems to talk to each other. The first step was adopting data standards for all of their programs and informing the vendors of this new requirement. They also needed to have an overall program managing the data flow. Finally, they automated all processes and made sure the data flows up to a central hub.
Now, the mission is to figure out what data to track and how to use it. One key piece of information is how students are using educational technology, such as when do they access their devices, what programs are they using, and how long they use them. Administrators can also check on the teachers: Are they using the main curriculum programs, what are they using as supplements, and how many teachers are using the same supplemental materials?
Finally, the team is working on creating individual student profiles and dashboards so they can see where they are on their individual pathway goals. Allowing students to track their own progress can make them more invested in their education.
This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by CatchOn, An ENA Affiliate.
About the Presenters
Eric Butash is responsible for providing leadership and innovation for enhancing teaching and learning through the identification, evaluation, adoption, and integration of effective educational innovations for the Foster-Glocester Regional School District. He provides leadership in the development of strategic approaches for personalized learning; supports the strategic integration of multiple school/district platforms leveraging open data standards; works collaboratively and effectively with staff to provide ongoing support for pedagogical and technical training to design, develop, and implement instructional content, courses, and projects that personalize learning technology in online and blended learning environments; works collaboratively with curricula to create interactive, student-facing learning opportunities; manages and supports all operations related to current and future technology infrastructure; and is responsible for monitoring software and hardware use and its effects on student achievement. Eric has done numerous presentations throughout his region, as well as at ISTE, on the topics of educational efficacy, data, privacy, and the role of technology in learning.
Leo Brehm, CatchOn’s Product Manager, is a career school CIO for public schools serving education for over 22 years. Leo has supported education in a variety of roles, including a technology support specialist, instructional technology specialist, network administrator, director of technology, CIO/CTO, and adjunct professor in four districts and a higher education institution. He spent most of his career as CIO/CTO with the Sharon and Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts. As a product manager, Leo is actively involved in the design and development of CatchOn. Currently, he is leading the development of CatchOn’s learning analytics platform and helping districts leverage next-generation learning data to personalize the learning experience for their learners.
About the Moderator
Monica Cougan is Manager of Strategic Relationships and Initiatives at CatchOn, an ENA Affiliate, where she leverages her more than 35 years of experience in education and technology to help schools make the most of new technology. Throughout her career, Monica has been an evangelist for the adoption of technology as a transformative educational tool. She also has extensive experience helping K-12 schools implement 1:1 programs and in disseminating problem-based and project-based learning methodologies that focus on helping each student develop his or her own voice. Throughout Monica’s extensive career, she has sought out the diverse experiences required to know how to implement positive changes in education: she has served as a classroom teacher, adjunct professor, and education consultant for national, technology-based curriculum companies. Away from the classroom, she has served as an independent math consultant, worked in curriculum development, evaluated research on school-based programs, and developed professional learning opportunities for educators looking for a new mastery of technology.
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Analytics in Action is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net for school technology leaders, superintendents, curriculum and instructional leaders.
CatchOn is a user-friendly data analytics tool that collects real-time data on every device, enabling school districts to make data-informed decisions about the apps and online tools their educators and students are using. In 2018, CatchOn joined forces with ENA, a leading provider of comprehensive technology solutions to education institutions and libraries across the nation. Collectively, CatchOn and ENA leverage their respective resources and expertise to deliver critical services and solutions that help school districts produce positive outcomes in the communities they serve.
Stacey Pusey is an education communications consultant and writer. She assists education organizations with content strategy and teaches writing at the college level. Stacey has worked in the preK-12 education world for 20 years, spending time on school management and working for education associations including the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group. Stacey is working with edWeb.net as a marketing communications advisor and writer.