Transforming data to information in service of learning

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

School reform and improvement efforts require an information technology infrastructure in service of learning and student success. Yet, digital learning tools and services can frustrate educators. Consider that:

Teachers may have to remember multiple logins and passwords to access classroom resources or compile data on student activities, since each tool employs its own authentication process; Online and digital learning resources abound, but it can be difficult for teachers and students to sort through them to find the ones that are high-quality and standards-aligned; and, Educators lack a simple way to display potentially useful data in real-time, in insightful ways, when it is most relevant.

To raise awareness about many of the major K-12 data standards and interoperability initiatives underway to address these and related issues, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) today released a new report entitled,Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning. SETDA developed this new report to help education leaders understand how technical interoperability initiatives relate to teaching and learning and to offer recommendations for how states, districts, and schools can become more responsive to educator needs and personalize learning for students.

The initiatives profiled in this report focus on ensuring consistent data definitions across schools, enabling the sharing of information across school data systems, and facilitating the search and discovery of education resources on the internet. “The widespread implementation of new and emerging interoperability initiatives will be instrumental to realizing the full potential of technology in education,” said Douglas Levin, SETDA executive director. “Our intent is that this report serve as an opening to a deeper and sustained conversation about how to make this happen.”

“Data holds tremendous power to unlock tools and resources for teachers and students to better personalize teaching and learning,” said Illinois State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “In Illinois, we are pursuing initiatives that make technology more accessible and effective for our schools, and I applaud SETDA for their efforts to examine how we can bring the digital experience more safely and effectively into the classroom.”

In a context where there is growing interest in leveraging new digital learning tools, online services, educational "apps," and other technologies in and out of the classroom for learning, the SETDA report offers three recommendations:

Develop a consensus-based, long-term vision and roadmap for interoperability to ensure investments in technology and digital learning are cost effective and meet educator and student needs.

Establish an ongoing mechanism to certify best practices and address transparency related to the privacy and security of student data.

Address data standards and interoperability issues with vendors as part of state and district procurement processes for educational technology and digital learning solutions, including for the adoption of free solutions.

“Getting the right information to educators and families at the right time is vital to the learning experience of every student,” said New York Education Commissioner John B. King. “New York is committed to bringing education technology resources to our schools and classrooms to help our students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. SETDA’s report illustrates the need for states and districts to work together to make sure educators and parents understand and participate in measures to safeguard student data.”

While there are many organizations working on these issues now, the report asserts that new leadership will be required from the federal government, state governments, school districts, nonprofits, and the technology industry to make needed advances.

The report, "Transforming Data to Information in Service of Learning," may be downloaded on the SETDA website at: www.setda.org/web/guest/datatoinformation.

About the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), founded in 2001, is the national non-profit association representing the interests of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leadership. SETDA’s mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit setda.org.