A week of Performance tracking

For this week’s data tracking, I decided to track the total hours I spend per day on various activities of the day and visualise them against a benchmark, standard, statistical data and self targets to measure my performance against these targets on a daily basis for each of the selected activities. I captured most of the data using Apple’s Screen time that aggregates application access data from my phone, Mac and iPad as I use all three simultaneously. The idea here is to simulate how students’ data that are captured through the various learning systems they use.

The data captured are total hours for : Work, Study, Social Media, Entertainment, playing Games on the phone, online Shopping and Exercise. All activities were done at home with online access except exercise of course but it was tracked on my phone. The benchmarks and targets are either self imposed (like a teacher would specify a learning target) or I used statistical data. The following table summaries these targets and respective reference.

The hours were summed per day per activity and then each hour/activity is assessed from a performance perspective against the target : “Exceed Target” if performance is better than target, “Met Objective” if within performance target, and “Under Performance” if below expectations. For example: for social media time the higher the hours the poorer the performance while for working hours it is the opposite.

My work week is Sunday to Thursday. For this visualisation, I included the weekend to capture most of my studying time.

WorkThe benchmark was a boundary of 6-8 hours/day. A typical working day is 8 hours however productive hours a day are less than 8 Hrs. According to inc.com the total productive time can be as low as 3hrs/day. According to the Economist:People are working longer hours during the pandemic”. So, I decided to keep the benchmark between 6-8 hrs/day of productive work.
Study According to the MSc in Digital Education handbooks, the total expected workload is between 7-10 hrs/week for most courses. As I am taking two courses, I set the target to be 1 -2 Hrs/day as I allocate more time on the weekends.
Social MediaAccording to Statista.com the daily social media usage worldwide in 2020 was 145 min/day – 2.5 hrs/day. I set the benchmark to be 2 hrs / day as I would like to reduce the time spent. I also use social media for work especially Twitter and WhatsApp.
EntertainmentThis activity is for watching online TV/shows. According to comparitech.com, Netflix users watched an average of 3.2 hours of video per day. For me I put a range for 1-2 hrs/day as a target. Its my unwinding time before I sleep.
Online GamesThis is also my unwinding time playing Candy Crash and similar games on my phone. Usually, this activity happens in parallel when watching online streaming shows / conference calls where I’m a passive listener. I set a target for myself at 30 min/day as I know I can spend more time on it.
ShoppingThis is for online shopping as we are still in a Pandemic stage and almost everything we buy is online. No targets has been set as this is something I have to do in most cases and usually it overlaps with other activities.
ExerciseA target of 30 min/day is self set measure on my Apple Watch
Benchmarks and Targets
The Data Visualisation

Some observations:

  • Many of the activities don’t have a specific block in the day. For example, I study for 20min then work for 1hr then do something else. Especially being at home, I don’t dedicate time blocks of for each activity.
  • Work activity is the most scattered during the day. If I compare this to a full-time student, then this is the measurement of study time. If a teacher looks at the spread of time the immediate judgement would be lack of focus or motivation to study. However tasks could be completed on time and overall performance is high.
  • There are parallel activities specially during passive conference calls (listening mood, or large company calls), watching online TV and social media checking.
  • Social media interactions are also spread all over the day. If I go back to my week of distraction we can see the same there too. Social media is used for work and study too.
  • During the first few days I noticed that I’m exceeding the target for Social Media and games so I started being more aware of the time I spend and I adjusted during the last few days.
  • Some of the applications I use are for multiple activities. For example I used MS Excel for the Dashboard DIY assignment while I use Excel a lot for my work too. Hard to make the clean cut split of time. Same for some social media platforms that I use for work too like: WhatsApp, Twitter and Linkedin

Being monitored can have a positive impact depending on the target value / objective and the audience of the performance measurements or how it is being measured. In the middle of the week I noticed that my Entertainment and Games activity was under performing so I tried to limit myself. Being self aware of your learning objectives and how it is measured may reduce unfair judgement or discrimination against students.

student performance track records, depending on their use, may lead to better personalized attention by teachers but may also enhance discrimination or limit accessibility.

van Dijck, J., Poell, T., & de Waal, M. 2018. Chapter 6: Education, In The Platform Society, Oxford University Press

I knew I was being monitored and I understood where the targets came from and I even set self targets. In a learning environment, students can be monitored and measured against benchmarks or targets they are either not aware of or are not reflective of their learning needs, environment and objectives. Measuring and monitoring performance is important for teachers to learn about their students but the questions are how it is being done, how and what are the targets, to read what’s behind the measure and and their learning objective.

As mentioned by van Dijck et. al (2018):

in the context of user-data collection and predictive analytics, it means that continuous individual monitoring and tailored didactics become integral to the pedagogical model 

van Dijck, J., Poell, T., & de Waal, M. 2018. Chapter 6: Education, In The Platform Society, Oxford University Press

5 thoughts on “A week of Performance tracking

  1. “The idea here is to simulate how students’ data that are captured through the various learning systems they use.” This was a brilliant idea. It’s a really excellent dataviz, and I really like the way you have engaged with the van Dijck et al reading to reflect critically on the implications of continuous student monitoring. How do you think discrimination might slip in to such monitoring?

    This is a really strong line in your commentary: “Measuring and monitoring performance is important for teachers to learn about their students but the questions are how it is being done, how and what are the targets, to read what’s behind the measure and and their learning objective.” Of course, the primary purpose of this task is to get your grappling first-hand with such issues, so it’s great to see you surfacing such questions and issues. On this note, I was intrigued by the various benchmarks/targets you had selected, and the sources you chose from. It is worth asking where the benchmarks and targets for student monitoring in educational software come from, and what they are taken as proxy measures of, e.g. “engagement” or “retention” as proxies for learning could be used to make inferences about student ability etc, which might correlate with particular socio-demographic profiles. Might that be how forms of discrimination would slip in?

    • thank you for your feedback ben. I agree that there will be new forms of discrimination if we rely only on monitoring systems to track performance or students engagement. The benchmarks I choose were random to demonstrate that anyone can set a target if the target is not linked to a student’s learning objectives or course objectives then monitoring against it is waste of time and effort…. we also need to be able to adapt and configure targets depending on many different factors

  2. Hi Dima,
    This is really ambitious to monitor so much of your activity, especially, as you say, you might take part in activities in parallel. Would you like to have a dashboard available to you, which automatically showed you how you divided up your time each day?

    • It would be nice to have a dashboard.. the Screen time on Apple devices gives you similar dashboard of where you have divided your time but doesn’t really say what you have been doing or what are the outcome. For example if you open the mail application and stare on it for 1 hour it will give you that you spent on it for 1hour !!! However if you look at it as an indication of where you spent your time a day .. at least it gives a perspective to take some action!

  3. Pingback: Teaching with Data – Block Blog | Dima Kandalaft’s Data Visualisation Blog

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