Lindsay's Data Visualisation Blog

Teaching with data: end of block summary

I found this block really quite tricky; I think because I’m not a teacher and I kept defaulting to how LA and data might be useful for a learner to reflect on their own learning. This highlights to me the importance of teachers being involved in the design of LA. It really is integral for those who will use the systems to be involved in the design and construction of them.

I tried to look beyond what might have been more obvious cases for teacher’s utilising data about their learners eg task completion, progress etc. I was trying to produce output that itself was useful, without the need for the teacher (in my scenario) to make meaning and helpful interpretations of the data. A speculation and expectation that Bulger describes as common in the context of personalised learning systems (Bulger, 2016).

I found myself in the variable arena of tracking behaviours and emotions – which in itself became far more complicated the more detailed I tried to get. Maybe I ended up where the behaviour, and learning that I was tracking was actually not suitable for datafication, and it could be that it wouldn’t ‘count’ in the context of being measured or assessed (Williamson et al, 2020)

It caused me to reflect on the impact of capturing data in situations that would ordinarily be judgements by teachers either made in a split second, or over time eg when I tracked my motivation, I’m certain that had someone been around me every day they would have picked up similar signals. Also this could have held true in the success of my tiredness interventions, where the success centred around the light exercise approach.

Another recurring theme in my thinking this block was about expectation on the teacher. Is there an increasing presumption for instantaneous and personalised feedback that an LA or data could support; or is that just something that isn’t quite possible in some educational contexts? Or is there a possibility for LA to ‘leverage human contact’ which Tsai et al (2020) promote?

I guess being open and honest this block did cause me to question the use of student data, without their direct input. I’m not sure how comfortably that sits with me, and then I think to my day job where the data we generate about learners through their assessment journey is more linked in a relationship and contract with the institution (or centre/school) rather than with the learner. I suppose that links us nicely on to governing with data, which I’m really looking forward to exploring.

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Bulger, M. 2016. Personalized Learning: The Conversations We’re Not Having. Data & Society working paper. Available:

Williamson, B. Bayne, S. Shay, S. 2020. The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectivesTeaching in Higher Education. 25(4), pp. 351-365.

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