block 2: ‘Teaching’ with data

The use of data in education is often directed towards ‘teaching’, with the idea of providing teachers with new kinds of tools and insights that might support various aspects of their profession. Educational applications now routinely supply dashboards and visualisations designed specifically for the practice of teaching, offering views of student progress, attendance, or assessment results, all derived from the collection, processing, and comparison of student data. Key questions here are: how might teaching practice be enhanced by such uses of data? How might the skills of individual teachers be developed, as they learn to engage with new kinds of classroom technologies and data-driven pedagogical approaches? However, we also need to recognise the potential impositions that data brings to the teaching profession, not only in the sense of its ability to transform pedagogical practices in profound ways, but also the idea that the very same measurement and analytic approaches that produce ‘teaching dashboards’ also constitute, and can be interpreted as, the ‘datafied’ assessment of teachers. Key questions here are: how do ideas such as ‘data-driven decision-making’ shape teaching practices, and professional responsibilities? What are the implications of increased data tracking on the role of teachers in educational institutions? And further, we might interpret this theme of ‘teaching’ as signalling the need to teach more critical views of the use of data in education, motivating questions about how we define ideas such a ‘data literacy’, and what might be done to develop curricula in technical ‘data science’-related subjects.

Thinking through these notions of ‘teaching’ (as well as others we might surface through discussion), this block will encourage you to develop a critical understanding of data as it relates to the practices and professional role of the ‘teacher’. You will approach this by reading a set of core and secondary literature that will elaborate on key aspects of this theme, and develop your understanding through: group discussion in our group video tutorial (in week 6); trying out the ‘build a teaching dashboard’ task (in week 7); and summarising this section of the course in your end of-block reflections (in week 8).