Let’s Talk about Data: What is data? (A multi-part series.)
I know what you are thinking – what a silly question. But sometimes we need ask the most ridiculous to provoke us to dig deeper and make better answers. Hear me out. I want to have an open discussion about data – what data is, where we get data, and how we think about data.
If you ask Google to define data, data is “the facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis”. Data is a synonymy to facts, figures, details, specifics, and features. Data is stored digitally and analog in paper notebooks and forms. Data is everywhere and because it is everywhere, we are often times so overwhelmed by it.
In K-12, we get data from a lot of sources. We get data about students at registration, often times in hand written forms or scanned documents. We have data in apps, from our Student Information System to the hundreds of classroom apps used throughout the district. That data is stored in cloud or local databases and often times behind lock and key.
Our students give us data in the classrooms. Every day they fill out assignment sheets, take tests in the classroom, turn in projects, and more. Our teachers have notebooks full of data about the students they teach to help them serve their students.
We have so much data that is never digitized. Think about how much we learn about students that could be used to help them just through interactions and student course work. What if we could use that data to do something really important – such as help predict which students are at risk? Teachers are amazing note takers – so how can we use that data better? Should we use that data?
Every user in the district uses data every day all day. This means that in reality we have so much data we don’t even know what to do with it all. All too often, the quantity of data is overwhelming it is basically ignored.
There is so much data that it makes it nearly impossible to manage it all. Districts need help, regional organizations, need, and even states need help to manage the data.
This multi-part series of articles will walk through the concepts surrounding data to dig deep into what data is, where we we get data from, who needs the data, and what do we with it all. Stay tuned for the first part of the series – finding data in your educational organization.