There are 26 days in January to think about the A-Z future of Education

There are 26 days in January to think about the A-Z future of Education

There are really only 26 days in January – well up to and including Australia Day when Australia wakes up. As Australia hits the reset button and starts work on Jan 28, we thought we would craft our predictions for the future of Education, one for each of the 26 days of January. One Letter a day to think about. In keeping with the famous 12 days of Christmas Carol, excluding the harmony, there are 26 challenges we all face in Education. Maybe there are more? I would love to hear your thoughts. You might even re-claim one of the 26 letters from me!

A – Access to the Internet is the foundational future of business and work. The NBN or private Enterprise will fix access for all, one day.
B – Books will remain in vogue for another few years, mainly because people don’t really read anymore, including on-screen, so why change?
C – Commercially printed educational content will reach a use by date of 1 Jan.2020 – there we called it!
D – Data is the high-emission, large footprint exhaust jettisoned from every online interaction. This data exhaust will recombine as the eco-fuel of personalised education and education strategies.
E – Educators will be accountable for student outcomes.
F – Free is not the future of online education.
G – Global access to education will determine the future of economic and social stability.
H – Heutagogy will be driven by shifting labour opportunities.
I –  Individualised, expert tutor instruction will replace low performing classrooms.
J – Juxtaposition and Just now strategies will help to calibrate personalised learning for students.
K – Knowledge will recombine and amplify from shared heuristic data analysis.
L – LMS systems are dead – they ended effective life years ago. No-one has told them yet.
M – MOOC tutoring and assessment services will re-bundle and deliver recognised and credentialed qualifications.
N – Numeracy remains a huge challenge for many Adults in the emerging nations of the world.
O – Outcomes of learning will self-align to labour-market needs, rather than ‘new’ bureaucratic curriculums.
P – Philanthropic funded endeavours will educate the world’s populations before governments and politicians do.
Q – Quantitative progress and visibility into the classroom will replace creative ‘sense-based’ reporting.
R – Research in education will be driven and measured by timely initiatives rather than decades of academic parlance.
S – Standardised testing will reduce. One size no longer fits all.
T – Technology will better assist teachers to help students rather than replace them. AI will get better at structured intelligence.
U – Universities will continue to overprice themselves through an insatiable appetite for money, averages, car parking fees and wealthy students.
V – Vocational Education Training will become so un-regulated, qualifications will be meaningless.
W – Written language and literacy capabilities will forever be in high demand.
X – Xerox copiers will pump out paper for another 20 years or until AI incorporates General Intelligence.
Y – Yielding to education system bureaucrats and politicians will end.
Z – Zealots will never get to teach soft-skills, mainly because they don’t have any themselves.

K-12 leaders and teachers want quicker insights and alerts from their learning data silos – delivered to them

K-12 leaders and teachers want quicker insights and alerts from their learning data silos – delivered to them

Schools create volumes of diverse data in school management, cloud and learning systems every day. Across multiple online systems and manual collection efforts, learning data grows at an exponential rate. Most times, key learning data is never unified. Sadly, this is the Greek tragedy of data in schools. The real hero, learning evidence, capable of helping every teacher personalise student growth and learning, is rendered powerless by its inability to be unified. The catastrophe? Teachers must work harder to understand each student’s learning need without unified assistance from existing data sources.

SIS, LMS and formative assessment platforms collect hundreds of thousands of learning data transactions. NAPLAN , PAT and ALLWELL contribute many more thousands of point-in-time learning records. Cloud delivered systems like O365, Google and Mathletics collect volumes of learning data hourly. Clearly data supply is not the issue, consolidated data delivery and visibility is. Here’s the hint; this is the main causal factor of the tragedy.

Right now, consolidated data delivery and visibility is still a big challenge for schools. How do schools leverage all the learning data they have ‘everywhere’ into a clever ‘thought-support’ capability for teachers? Can technology unify multiple data sources to augment insights and instincts? Can this information find leaders and teachers to answer their unique questions?  The answer to all of these questions is yes, when you approach the challenge the right way.

It’s critical that school leaders think about data strategies as a journey rather than a single destination or one off project.  No school ‘does analytics’ in one pass and if they do, they only have one, often disappointing, pass at it.

Implementing an active data strategy that lets teachers find opportunities and issues quicker, collect stronger data and then share all data, needs leadership support and guidance. You really can’t expect to move from ad hoc data use to automated data analytics in one pass.

Using learning data to quickly identify issues, understand trends and measure success is what teachers and leaders want. The framework to execute and support this must combine three important ingredients; organic interest, teacher PD and a technical ability to deliver. We believe delivering new initiatives the ‘last mile’ is the biggest risk that every ‘system’ initiative faces.

How do you deliver an integrated data capability and culture the last mile?

The most effective risk mitigation strategies focus on internal adoption, inclusion  in the process and efficacy, all more important than a cackle of data consultants.

Start by being tactical. We can recommend six points schools should consider when thinking about creating or extending an environment to start a data culture that uses data and evidence to support teaching and learning.

  1. Insist on agile and economic capabilities in preference to expensive bespoke analytic projects. When disparate data sources come together, it often takes a bit of time to learn where the relationships are and then where the true value is. Iterations need to be quick and economic to run and re-run. When your future state starts with a huge budget, the future can be fragile.

    If you over-engineer what you think you need, you will be disappointed. If you find yourself writing detailed specifications, hit reset.  Remember the data itself and the BI tool does not create any real IP. In this data capability context, the IP (intellectual property) is created from engagement, culture and efficacy around using data to improve teaching and learning.
    Always expect that 90% of the time, you will continue to rely on your cognitive intelligence to rationalise data stories and findings.
  2. Understand the dimensions, importance and weighting that should be applied to each of the data sources you have. Too much fuss is often made over obvious data, simply because it’s simple to access and easy to understand. Have a good think, learn from others. You can duplicate without having to replicate. You don’t want people off piste with half-truths.

  3. Think about how you could collect more granular data through better processes and how to bring this data into the mix. If you don’t collect data at the right level of granularity, the data is of limited use. Do you have gaps in your data collection processes?

  4. Ensure data insights and alerts find your leaders and teachers in their context, not the reverse. Gaining insights into data should not become a new burden or need further academic qualification. When learning data is easy to use, teachers use it.

  5. Deliver a simple teacher-driven ability to personalise inquiry and alert scenarios. Avoid building one size fits all chart strategies. Everyone must chant  ‘data must come to me’. Save everyone from being an over or underwhelmed user.

  6. Don’t get caught up re-working and transforming data, you will never stop once you start. Work and build data ‘as it is’ letting the system support the range of data diversity. Focus your time thinking about what you want to know leaving your data platform to cope with diversity.

If you are looking for a platform to transform your data silos into a single source of learning evidence, take a look at Literatu Learning Ledger and watch the simple explanatory video.        Video :  When Data met Sally

Teachers achieving “Conscious Competence” with technology

Teachers achieving “Conscious Competence” with technology

What can be done to ensure that technology truly improves learning outcomes?

For the last twenty years, educators, governments, technology companies and publishers have built a narrative that by introducing a new technology, be it a digital book, LMS, SIS, PC, tablet or iPad, there would be an immediate improvement in student learning.

The reality to date is that no-one has established an accepted nexus between learning outcomes and the use of technology. In 2012 Higgins and his colleagues, in their meta-analysis of the numerous studies on the impact of digital technology on student learning, concluded, “Taken together, the correlational and experimental evidence does not offer a convincing case for the general impact of digital technology on learning outcome” (Higgins et al, 2012).

Apparent from multiple teacher surveys, a large proportion of teacher-technology skills lie somewhere between Conscious Incompetence and Conscious Competence. That is, somewhere between teachers being aware they lack specific technology skills and knowing the skills they have are not second nature or fluent. This being the case, the foundations on which technology can be relied on to support stronger learning outcomes, need to be shored up.


We believe the tipping point at which technology will significantly contribute to stronger learning outcomes will be when teachers reach the level of Unconscious Competence with technology. This is when teachers, as a natural part of their professional repertoire, enhance pedagogy and student outcomes by blending the art of teaching with efficiencies and data delivered by supportive technology.

We have five suggestions we think will help technology improve learning outcomes.

1. Support teaching with technology.
Research has proven that teachers have the biggest influence on learning outcomes, not technology. It is however, far easier to make technology accessible than it is to lift teacher skills into a state of unconscious competence. We must refocus on supporting and encouraging teachers with intuitive tools that build capabilities to better inform teaching and learning.

2. Start measuring learning – stop the fixation on managing learning
Learning management is not learning measurement. For too long we have invested in technology that does not inform daily teaching and learning in an exacting context for each student. The idea that ‘I have taught it because it’s in the LMS’ has become a proxy for ‘they have learned it’, without a need for any independent check on what (if anything) has actually been learned. Technology needs to help teachers assess and measure learning.

3. Give teachers the tools to personalise teaching.
We would argue that the perceived need for more standardised ‘digitised’ curriculum content detracts from teachers focusing on having the answers to three critical questions every day. What does each student know now? What is each student ready to learn next? Where should I target and adapt my teaching? Personalised teaching happens naturally when teachers with an unconscious competence for technology are supported with quantitative capabilities.

4. Leverage data to inform teaching.
The most under-utilised, un-leveraged asset of every school is the learning data it produces every day. Schools must build a data capability and culture to surface data insights and help teachers to target teaching, improve feedback and learning outcomes. According to Scottish writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, “It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data”. Yet, for centuries, the education industry has implemented teaching practices without any data to prove its efficacy.

5. Extend strategic outcomes with data and technology.
Improving teaching and learning outcomes using data is operationally very effective. The same data builds the foundation of the next strategic step. Machine learning and assistive intelligence (commonly referred to as artificial intelligence) offer capabilities to scale finite teacher resources to automatically predict outcomes from captured learning data. A new teacher-dedicated digital assistant can suggest, adapt and prescribe personalised learning on demand.

Mark Stanley – CEO – Founder – Literatu

Get Insights from NAPLAN data – in 3 Screens

In response to recent media coverage of flat or backward NAPLAN results, I engaged in a correspondence with a reporter.  Here’s what I wrote:
The perspective I can offer is one that focuses on how schools get the data as opposed to beating up the test, the schools or the government.
I can tell this story in three pictures (from screenshots of our software). This said, my point is not to flog our software, but to highlight the value of EASY ACCESS to data insights and how, without this, the lack of growth is not a surprise, but is, in fact, what we should expect.
All the screens are of actual NAPLAN data, but anonymised so as not to compromise confidentiality.
1) Flat results.
This visualisation shows 6 years of NAPLAN Band achievement across years 3, 5, 7 & 9.  You can see that the real story here is one of No Growth – the results are essentially flat.  This is the story your report told today. The reason I see this slightly differently is that we have schools who are just starting to use our software so 2017/18 is THE FIRST YEAR they have been able to easily see this data (and the next screens). So the point is that, without easy access to unpacking the band scores into skills and subskills, how were schools and teachers EXPECTED to make improvements?  Thus schools and teachers worked very hard either doing the same things they have always done or guessing what needs fixing.
(click to enlarge)
2) Unpacking the Data – from Skill problems to identifying Subskills 
No matter how hard teachers work, doing more of the same doesn’t necessarily address gaps in their students’ skills. Another visualisation shows how the data from the massive spreadsheets can be visualised in a way that goes from seeing the problem to seeing what needs targeting. Here, “traffic light colours” signal problems in specific skills and clicking one of the bubbles reveals the subskills that were assessed. NOW teachers know what they can target their teaching to:
3) Give teachers Insight into the students right in their classes!
The fact that NAPLAN data is often 1-2 years old by the time it reaches school and public attention makes it hard to use. The tests assess skills from the preceding year (e.g., Year 3 assesses Year 2 skills), then schools find out about the results toward the end of their year with the students and here we are almost upon 2018 NAPLAN and MySchool is only now updated with 2017 NAPLAN data.  How is a classroom teacher meant to help the students in their classes today?
In the last screen animation, you can see the “Teacher Dashboard” where a school’s NAPLAN data is sliced and sorted for the actual students sitting in front of a classroom teacher.  Yes, the data may still be a year old, but now the classroom teacher can accommodate and differentiate what he / she does based upon their students. In the animation, notice that both the data in the cards and the list of students in the right column change as I switch between classes (at the top of the dashboard). When I click on the NAPLAN Weather report card for writing, I can see which 4 students went backward from their 2015 to 2017 NAPLAN tests and which 5 achieved above expected growth targets.  Then when I click the NAPLAN Skill Focus card (and its backside) I get details about the top 4 (then 8 when flipped) areas in each of the 4 NAPLAN domains where this particular class of students scored lowest.  Again, clicking on the card, sorts the students according to the skill clicked so we can see who needs the most help and who could be extended.

So, to sum up, I see a big part of the problem is that classroom teachers have not been able to access the right kind of information easily in order to use the NAPLAN data (albeit a “snapshot” and a “diagnostic assessment being used as a high-stakes test” – two legitimate complaints against NAPLAN).  In fact, we have run into the situation where one of the leading state’s association for schools takes the approach of helping schools unpack NAPLAN results through a workshop on using Excel spreadsheets!!!! In 2018!

Our schools are just this year getting such access and we work with them to take charge of their remediation programs and initiatives and expect to see upward trends as they continuously improve their teaching and learning practices.

I’d love to chat or even take you through this software as a way to point to other solutions than beating up teachers, schools or the government – not something your reporting has ever done, but these bash-ups tend to be what’s buzzing in the media.  Perhaps a better, more productive approach is to use smart software to provide data insights?