Big Data & the space between the numbers.

 

pasi.jpg

Thanks Laura for the photo.

In 2012 as a core education efellow I  researched Hyperconnectivity with the initial thinking that it was important to travel on the journey with our children to be as connected as we could possibly connect them. My thinking was that the more devices we could plug the learners into a variety of devices,  the better they would be in learning. However by the end of the year I realised how much more I needed to learn and found my thinking had shifted hugely thanks to several disruptive thinkers in education. These were names like Larry Cuban, Mark Pesce, Ulises Mejias, Sherry Turkle and of course our own Pam Hook who just kept asking the hard questions.

Search for them and you will find readings and videos that have a bit of a cautious educators edge to them. Here you can listen to my reflection as an efellow. From my learning I realised that what was not seen or could not be measured was just as important as the numbers. I changed my thinking to the human approach or as in samoa we would say Va Fealofani. In Maori they say Whanaungatanga. My twitter buddy Tahu wrote a fabulous definition here about whanaugatanga and included Me hui kanohi ki te kanohi kia rongo i te mauri o te tangata!’ It is important to meet face to face, eye to eye, breath to breath to get a full understanding of the people we are working with.’

Since I have been an Across School Leader for the Auckland Central Community of Schools I have been the person with the big data focus. I love data so when I knew Pasi would be talking about data I was intrigued. Last year I had been invited to be part of the Ministry of Educations initiative, Student Information Sharing Initiative (SISI)  and I wrote a post cautioning about how we gather data as educators which has continued to guide me and my thinking around data.

We often need educators who force us to pause what is happening and zoom in a little closer and say hey, remember that the machines are fabulous however just a reminder “whose voice can we not hear?” During Ulearn I attended 2 sessions with Professor Pasi Sahlberg with a focus on data.

Those of you who know Pasi’s work will remember his works around GERM, Global Education Reform Movement. Pasi introduced me to fabulous educators in Finland when I decided I wanted to visit the country that was highlighting extraordinary Big Data results via PISA. You can read my journey here when I visited Juväskylä- the Centre of Finnish Education.

Next: What I took away from Pasi’s sessions.

Education Data in general is run by big big data educators.  Big data does things like data mining. But does big data really make education smarter?

How does big data help schools?  There are those that think that the more we rely on big data concludes the better our education will be.

However big data often fails educators. In order for that big data to work we as educators have to contribute small data. But is small data, smart learning?

Big data often uses schools as small data and schools use teachers and their data as their small data. So as teachers we collect small data to contribute to our school’s big data. But more importantly we should be looking at the best way of using that small data to improve our practice.

We have already identified the strategies that help shift learning. But is learning all about the data? Pasi say’s ‘As educators we should trust our raw instincts of what works. Be amongst what is happening- not just observing and monitoring.’

Alongside our learning data we should be focussing on the space between the nodes. The elements that cannot be seen or measured. These are relationships. Relationships with our students and family, relationships with our colleagues both in and beyond our schools, relationships with our communities both locally and globally.

Ethically, rather than develop and agree to systems that put even more emphasis on screen learning and can truly mine data for Big Data, we should be pushing for ‘face to face, eye to eye, breath to breath to get a full understanding of who we are working with.’

To finish with (Excuse the pun 🙂

Pasi leads by example and always shares his work freely. Here you can have access to his slides.

Thanks Pasi for the reminder about the space we cannot see but yet is just as important as the data gathering.

 

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