Using data management to build personalized learning experiences

“Today’s students will graduate into a world that will be dramatically different – and changing faster than ever. They will enter a workforce where job functions, roles and even categories will be significantly altered, and will face social and global challenges beyond what we can imagine today,” says Steve Liffick, General Manager of Education Strategy and Platforms at Microsoft. Research recently conducted by the company – “The class of 2030 and life-ready learning: The technology imperative” – concluded that student-centric approaches will be critical to achieving this.

We need to radically change our approach if we are to prepare those students for the increasingly creative, collaborative, digitally-infused world they will enter as adults. It’s not just a matter of giving students the latest hardware either. Personalized learning, supported by technology, will help students develop strong social-emotional and advanced cognitive skills – such as adaptive and creative problem solving, creativity, digital literacy, and ethical decision-making – needed to prepare them for work and life.

Building personalized learning initiatives

Access to computers must be backed up by a robust pedagogical model centered on student voice, choice, and collaboration, combined with the intentional deployment of technology. With that in mind, the Fresno Unified School District developed a Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI) and partnered with Microsoft education to understand how this novel approach impacted student learning and teacher practice.

Students in the classroom of PLI teachers achieved higher English language arts (ELA) scores on the district’s spring assessment, and increased collaboration with digital tools. Students who had teachers involved in the PLI showed statistically significant differences, performing better in six out of ten subjects (compared to those whose teachers were not involved in the PLI) in The California Department of Education spring 2017 scores on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests.

Translating data into learning outcomes

Data is arguably one of the most powerful tools we have in modern education. It can empower teachers and administrators with insights, illuminate potential issues, streamline inefficiencies, and help personalize the learning experience for students. There is building evidence and compelling case studies demonstrating how data management can be leveraged to help schools achieve better results for students by customizing the learning experience.

BrightBytes – a company which has been recently acquired by Microsoft – employs advanced analytics, including machine learning, psychometrics, and predictive analytics to organize and visualize actionable data across research-based frameworks to drive student learning. Its Clarity platform currently serves over 25,000 schools globally. By integration of DataSense into Microsoft’s suite of products, Liffick says Microsoft will help school and district IT leaders to better collect, manage and explicitly control access to their data, helping them to transition to the cloud and simplifying data management and providing explicit security and control over that data.

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