3 questions about educational data

Doug Johnson, Sept 17, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

In the wake of Desire2Learn's recent acquisitions, Doug Johnson asks some intriguing questions:

  • Is the technology a decision-making tool or a diagnostic tool?
  • Why haven't we been able to apply the concept of mass customization to education?
  • If want to use data to help individualize students, what is the most valuable information to record, organize and analyze?

These are good questions. I tend to think of data analytics as providing diagnostics (the way an exercise monitoring tool provides feedback) with the decisions left to students and teachers. We need customization (despite the protestations of learning styles sceptics) but via individual preference and decision, not automation. As for the third, well, that's a very good question.

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