Using Technology to Enhance Data Collection & Decision Making

Instructor: Michelle Vannoy
Anyone who works in a school needs to have tools for collecting data to inform decision making. This lesson will address different technologies that can help in the collection and organization process.

Using Technology

What is technology? Technology is defined as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. This includes machinery like cell phones, computers, laptops, iPads, etc... Whether you are a novice technology user or an advanced user, there are programs to help you with data collection. You might need data for testing purposes to determine appropriate-level material for a child in your class, record keeping for student/family information, teacher evaluations, in-service schedules, or bookkeeping of the last fundraiser.

Technology is out there to help you deal with less paperwork and be more efficient and organized. Using the technology readily available in the classroom or school office makes collecting information a seamless, easy process for anyone to complete.

Help! I'm a Teacher

For teachers, there are endless uses of technology for data collection. Many programs will grade questions using bubble sheets, and some will even grade short answer questions based on your input. These grading programs will then give you reports on your students' abilities. They will show which questions were missed most, what the most common wrong answer was, and even what standard the question was linked to. This data can help pinpoint what you might need to reteach, target gaps in learning, highlight weaknesses in the test questions, help you to individualize learning for every student, and contribute to creating stronger, more accurate assessments.

There are also word processing programs and spreadsheets for creating tables to organize student information. Spreadsheets will let you sort information with a click of a button by different types or categories of information. For example, if you have a spreadsheet with the various wrong answers that your students chose for each question on a test, you could click the column that had a particular wrong answer so that the spreadsheet grouped all of the students that chose that answer together. This ability to regroup your data is used to help you determine what mistakes some or most of your students are making, and then be able to target them directly with reteach.

If you need to collect information on your students, you can share a spreadsheet through an online survey. This allows your students to enter the information you want and need. When they go online to answer the questions asked in the survey, their input will automatically populate a spreadsheet for you, giving you categories of information to make informed decisions.

I'm a Bookkeeper or Record Keeper: Is there something for me?

Bookkeepers and record keepers have many options for organizing massive amounts of student data. As with teachers, bookkeepers and record keepers can use spreadsheets and surveys for collecting and organizing information. They can also make digital forms for the collection of money and purchase orders that can be filled in digitally and emailed, meaning less paper has to pass between hands. Not only is this environmentally responsible, but it also ensures everyone is doing the same thing, the same way, and it keeps papers from being lost and having to be stored. Use a mail program and set up folders with rules, ways to filter your email, so that you can auto sort all forms of the same type to one folder, making organization easier.

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