This collection of dashboards1 was brought on by a tweet2 from Dan Meyer but precipitated by the fact that I am struggling to figure out what matters in terms of a future LMS and how the data we present (or don’t present) to students and teachers impacts education as a whole.3
While we4 often say we5 want a balance between multiple choice assessment and other types of assessment, if the only data that teachers see and talk about is related to multiple choice we probably shouldn’t bother talking about other types of assessment. There’s also the idea that assessment data may just be the tip of the iceberg. I’m not sure what exactly would make a difference but there are lots of other things that ought to be looked at.
In the end I see the data displayed to students and teachers as being pretty important but it means nothing if it’s not set within the right context and used in the right way by both parties.
All that aside, let’s see what’s going on right now.
Delaware Insight Dashboards
Fairly traditional, I’m not sure these dashboards are even meant for student view but many of the systems I’ve seen lately just give students access to their own data with the same views they give teachers and call it a student dashboard. One of the things that concerns me here is the green/red binary system. There is no room for even a yellow in this world view? Even if your focus is purely on test scores, this kind of thought disregards the importance of scores that fall immediately below and above the cut score. Those scores can easily go either way so seeing green may lead to unfortunate degrees of over confidence.
Despite having one of the worst icons I have ever seen, EquipSchools has some interesting pieces to this dashboard.
Note the motivation/stress/energy/engagement/homework chart on the right. I’ve seen some people6 encouraging students to input those kind of data that through Twitter like status updates that use emoticons to indicate the emotional state but this is the first I’ve seen of something more sophisticated. It would be interesting to have those kind of data as a student and as a teacher but it seems like they have an awful lot of categories. I can’t think of a way to gather those data without it being either burdensome (and thus not done) or ineffective. Their method, multiple strand Likert scale ratings, seems to be presented in a way that ties it too loosely with time and too tightly with projects for it to be as useful as it could be.
I like the idea this seems to support. Students ought to set goals and the software ought to facilitate that as well as the tracking of progress towards those goals. While that’s a relatively obvious idea, it’s not often done. Most student data dashboards are purely passive visualizations of test data.7 If you’re lucky you might get a mouse over for more information or a dynamic chart.
This is one of those dashboards that seems to creep up too often in education. It tries to make the data fun by letting you fill up these wacky body shapes with blood.8 It’s pretty much useless for student reflection and really only shows progression along a predetermined path.
You can also see some attempts at “gamification” going on in the sidebar. Apparently you can earn presents. This type of thing would prepare your children well to succeed in College Apprentice where they can accomplish feats and win awards by generating points by attending “events hosted and supported by College Apprentice.”
Read 180 pulls out all the stops on the “gamification” bandwagon. I almost expect to get some virtual chickens for my virtual farm if I read enough. Personally, I don’t like this mentality. I fear it’s going to catch on and I imagine it motivates certain kids. I don’t think it does anything to help them learn or reflect on what they’re doing that might impact their learning. I don’t think it’s aiming too high to expect that.
1 A pretty imprecise word that appears to mean quite a few different things to different people.
2 I will never like that word.
3 Someplace I have an interesting way that someone was visualizing learning along five thematic branches (content, critical thinking, etc.) and displaying it as a star/pentagram in order to help reflect the idea of balance. For some reason I thought it was an NSF grant but I’m not finding it currently.
4 I have a frog in my pocket.
5 Yep, frog is still there.
6 I think it was eSparks but their website tells you nothing. I’m also pretty sure Dell’s new personalized learning environment does this as well but I can’t recall if they aggregate the results for student reflection.
8 It’s bright red, apparently liquid, and in a body. What else could it be?