Sunday, March 25, 2012

When Full Brains and Calendars Collide

This is not going to be a post about why I haven't been posting. Okay, maybe a bit of it will be.

I've been putting together an article on using data visualization as feedback in the classroom, and my "free time" has been pulled in that direction. While I'd love to share the content here, I can't until a decision about publication has been made. But I can share a few general observations about what I've read.
  • In education, we've known for a long time (since 1986) that using charts and graphs as feedback is second only to identifying interventions for raising student achievement.
  • Almost all of the research about using visuals as feedback in the classroom has been done in classes involving computers: engineering, online classes/schools, programming, etc. Those with access to technology have been the ones able to harvest data and consider its applications. But, there's not a lot out there for general K-12 classrooms, other than using visualizations with special needs children.
  • There are almost no examples of applying "business intelligence" models to K-12. Keep in mind that I would never advocate for schools to run as businesses, but what the private sector has learned about applying an understanding of visual perception to charts and graphs runs circles around anything in education. We need to raid and pillage this knowledge.

Summary: We know using data visualization is a powerful tool for the classroom and student learning, but we sure don't seem to make any effort to use it.

After reading a huge stack of educational research and digging deeply into several books on data viz, my head is bursting with ideas. If you have to have a problem in your life, then this is very best one to have. I highly recommend this sort of mania. However, with approximately two weeks out of this month spent on the road, this has also been one of the most frustrating problems to have: No time to write or finish my half-cooked workbooks for this space. I want to pull my hair out.

But my travel will be done in a week...and then I can have some time and space to pursue these ideas and beat them into submission.

In the interim, I have a post from my other blog to pull over and show you here. Wherever you are, I hope you're learning lots, too.

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