I am sure that the application of analytics on the level of district or even state (=nation in my case) is so tempting, that we can expect the intention to use it. I am afraid that this is less possible in the conditions where the learning goals (standards) are more general than on the level of higher education.
There is a big danger the application of analytics in the lower grades could determine the methodology of teaching too much. The only possibility is to measure all goals including the ability of self expression etc. Such a complex analytics is still not possible. So, it is necessary to give the teachers some space and the responsibility.
I think we can use the analytics tools only partly and primarily as a feedback to students, parents and teachers.
I felt the same, George, when I read the Educause article from this week's materials. However, what you/we are exploring now is a bit of a paradigmatic shift. I think turning the large ship of the educational structure, reporting and accountability right to the level of government will be slow. I don't think they have grasped the idea of network or distributed learning.
However, developing analytical techniques to provide different measures or results, as explored in this course, and packaged for easy use will provide institutions with a tool they might embrace. In essence, it might take applied research to prove it to established organizations.
I don't know if I agree with you, Borivoj. I guess it depends on one's philosophy of education.
You state, analytics "could determine the methodology of teaching too much". I am not completely convinced we shouldn't provide some structures and frameworks versus allowing a more loose approach to teaching - however, even the most liberal teachers learns and uses methods on some manner- no tabula rasa there. Research has been done on how kids learn, the curriculum has been developed, and modern versions of teaching are unfolding (albeit, slowly). There is a base to work from (and improve).
If we don't use our findings from applying analytics, what will we use them for if not to inform our practice?
My article "Students and Standards" http://clubweb.interbaun.com/~l-pphillips/edarticles/studstand.htm
reports on what 16 schools did to meet their achievement test goals. My favourite was "curriculum related extra curricular activities".
Your question rests on the balance between the need for accountable and transparent responses to key stakeholders (government and other funders, tuition payers, etc) and the desire for institutional autonomy especially as it relates to academic freedom.
Statewide systems (like Georgia) can provide some large data sets for interesting investigations but it is always important to remember that Analytics are not neutral. The questions asked will lead eventually lead to business/policy decisions.
Confusing external reporting needs/requirements with information needed for internally driven improvements is one of the reasons why we need good data governance and well informed leadership.
For me analytics *is not statistics*.
With Stats you are looking for specific things (perhaps reporting to your bosses about the progress of something), but Analytics on the other hand is more about *discovery*. I tend to think of analytics as something related to data mining. You can use it to see patterns that are otherwise obscured.