Saturday, 13 October 2018

If you don’t lead with small data, you’ll be led by Big Data



About Pasi Sahlberg @pasi_sahlberg


Prof Pasi Sahlberg has recently been appointed a professor of educational policy in the School of Education, UNSW, and will be working closely with Prof Adrian Piccoli setting up the new Gonski Institute for Education.
Pasi has worked as a school teacher, teacher educator, researcher, and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems, analysed education policies, and advised education reforms around the world.
He speaks 6 languages (Croatian, German, Finnish, English, Swedish and Italian)


Abstract

Learning analytics, algorithms and big data are knocking on the doors of many schools promising fast improvements and new solutions to wicked problems facing schools today.
In the midst of datafication educators need to remember the power of small data: tiny clues through personal observations, collective human judgment, and raw instinct that can lead to big change in schools. Leading with small data requires collaboration, trust and professionalism as key features of educational change.
Link to Pasi’s presentation


Big Data

Data is changing the way we deliver education. Education data in general is run by big data educators. Big data is the process of sorting through large data sets to identify patterns and trends to reveal correlations and predict the future. Big data uses algorithms to establish relationships and solve problems through data analysis.  Big data does things like data mining and is processed by machines.
But does big data really make education smarter? How does big data help schools? In order for that big data to work we as educators have to contribute small data.


Small Data

Small data is processed by humans who continuously look for tiny clues to reveal
causations. Small data helps us understand the present. But is small data, smart learning? Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs. 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.

Humanness

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 relations. Relationships with our students and family, relationships with our colleagues both in and beyond our schools, relationships with our communities both locally and globally.

In the midst of datafication educators need to remember the power of small data: tiny clues through personal observations, collective human judgment, and raw instinct that can lead to big change in schools. Lead and think with small data first, then use in conjunction with the rest of your skillset and Big Data.  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.’


Personalised Learning

Where is the personalisation of learning if the learner's voice is not in it? Be cautious with letting machines do the thinking and learning. As educators we know that social skills are a critical component of learning and we need more play. Therefore, let us listen more to human observation, conversations and relationships. Professional wisdom is balancing value-based experience and combination of small and big data for collective judgment in school.

Lead with small data. Think with small data first, then use in conjunction with the rest of your
skillset and Big Data.

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