Data Visualisation #4

A week of “Digital Life” – a dashboard of phone use

“Digital Life” and Apple’s “Screen Time”

This week I tracked the time I spent on my phone, the applications I used and number of phone ‘pickups’ each day. I was surprised mainly by the number of times I ‘picked up’ or open my phone every day – more than 70 times one day! How dependent am I on my phone? I use it every day and take it with me everywhere. It plays my music, has my emails, messages, social media, audio books, photos, and much more.

This week I decided to explore how ‘dashboards’ of data and behaviour are easily available to many phone or technology users. If the main goal of student ‘dashboards‘ is to informa teachers of student performance, and ‘nudge’ students in the ‘right’ direction, by changinig behaviour, then how is the ‘Screen time’ dashboard different?

On one wand technology companies create products that are very enticing, interesting to use and almost essential to the ‘modern’ digital life. On the other hand, the same company, in this case Apple, creates a ‘dashboard’ of screen time information and behaviour, that passes all the responsibility to it’s users. Since reviewing this data, I’ve decided to ‘disable’ the weekly notifications of my screen time I would receive every Monday morning. Most of the time I would ignore the notification, other times I would have quick look at the key data, especially the first line saying whether my ‘screen time’ was higher or lower compared to the previous week. Some time ago, as a result of this ‘screen time’ data, I would decide to delete a specific social media app that I thought I was spending too much time in, to later go back to install it again a few weeks or days later. This was a lot similar to the experience the author of this article went through.

In a similar way, students are trained to respond to the data available to them in different student ‘dashboards’, whether it is asking students to insert an emoji in a Teams chat at the beginning of the lesson to represent their mood that day, or whether LMS create detailed ‘report cards’ of the student’s behaviour online. I wonder wether students are becoming dependent on direct and immediate feedback to value and measure their learning. I wonder if the ideas of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ in education are being re-defined in a new way, in a ‘data analytics’ way.

For the time being, I’ll stay away from more personal ‘dashboards’ that make me feel guilty about my screen usage during pandemic times.

2 Replies to “Data Visualisation #4”

  1. Great visualization, and really interesting reflections. It’s strange how these dashboards are presented to us in a way which is supposed to prompt certain forms of response. The Twitter analytics dashboard seems always to suggest you should tweet more, drive up your impressions, gain new followers etc. It’s very much about increasing your ‘performance’ as a tweeter. It’s like social and personal life as a business, with all its market fluctuations. I was wondering about your reflections on how teachers might use dashboards too. Would a classroom dashboard draw the teacher’s attention to certain measurable actions? Might the dashboard itself be a source of teacher distraction from embodied activity?

    1. Thank you for the feedback and encouragement! I’ve been struggling with the idea of teachers using ‘dashboards’ to support teaching and learning. On hand, as a teacher I’m concerned about ‘bombarding’ students with information that might limit the way they perceive their learning and progress. On the other hand, as administrator of some learning platforms, I’m excited by the insight and possibilities the ‘big data’ might provide. Even opening a window to understanding the needs of our students better?

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