How can we use data to improve teaching and learning?

Synthesis of the first couple of days of discussion of this #codesign16 challenge The challenge: We want to hear your views on how we can use data-driven approaches help refine learning and teaching practice. How do you currently use data to improve your teaching? What kinds of data and analysis give meaningful insights into processes of learning and teaching?


  1. A discussion with Dave Cormier on next-generation digital learning environments led fairly quickly into discussion of the benefits and limitations of the use of data
  2. Dave later summed up his concerns about measuring learning
  3. But it's not all bad news:
  4. And that in part sums up the challenge in this area - how we identify the types of data - and indeed, more broadly, evidence - that are both feasible to gather and meaningful, and use this in appropriate and ethical ways to inform decision-making, whether that's by individuals, course teams or larger organisational units.
  5. The point about informing decisions, rather than being decisions being entirely driven by data, is one that many people feel strongly about and a concern I've heard rumbling at learning technology conferences this year.
  6. This need for everyone working in education to have strong, critical data literacies is something we've highlighted in our work on digital capability - it was one of the key areas we added to our digital capability framework last year when we updated our earlier seven elements of digital literacy.
  7. So we know that there are concerns around the greater use of data to improve teaching and learning practice. We need to avoid making over-blown claims for what data can do, and need to avoid using it as a blunt instrument or too uncritically. But even fairly simple cases of data-informed improvement can have value - discussing with academic teams whether 'cold spots' in VLE use fit with the kind of study behaviours they were expecting, and what could be do to change this if not. For that to work, you need to ensure that the data is discussed and acted on in a constructive way:
  8. And I'm definitely seeing resonances of the importance of evidence-based practice - this in response to a conversation on a slightly different topic, when I was asking how you best phrase or describe technology-informed curriculum design:
  9. I know that many people would make stronger claims for the potential of data-informed (or maybe even driven) approaches than this, and we'd love to hear from you if you're one of them!