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Bob Wise: Listening to the Public’s Concerns About Big Data

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March 21, 2014 04:21 pm


In a new op-ed on the Huffington Post, Alliance president and former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise shares remarks he gave on March 19 in a presentation to school district technology leaders at the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) annual conference in Washington, DC.

In his remarks, Governor Wise says that the future of personalized learning and student achievement outcomes will largely be determined on how effectively data is used. The subject, he notes, is controversial – with many of the issues surrounding student data usage being defined by reaction to public concerns. The concerns that the public has, he notes, should be heard by the education community and addressed. Wise calls for a full discussion of what student data are necessary, how data should be used, and what policies to put in place to ensure privacy and appropriate use.

Wise links the use of data to technology innovation throughout time. He makes an analogy that compares data in education to the use of data in health care. Decades ago, there was public concern over how to collect patient data and use it appropriately. Today, collecting and using data makes it possible for doctors to personalize their treatment to individual patients. The same can, too, improve the education landscape.

“Students benefit most when their teachers have access and can use the emerging data that permits immediate observation, planning and, when necessary, intervention,” Wise writes.

Wise calls on education leaders to do the following:

  • Listen to public concerns and communicate with each other to be aware of emerging issues;
  • communicate effectively to the public and within the education community the necessity of using data for lesson-planning based on individual student needs – while addressing privacy considerations;
  • develop clear policies on how to responsibly use student data at all levels (including district and state policies);
  • provide necessary professional development and training for teachers and principals on the proper use of data and how to preserve student privacy;
  • offer transparency on what data are being collected, how it is used, and who has access to the information;
  • communicate to policymakers at the district, state, and national levels to ensure data issues are being addressed appropriately and not being derailed by misconceptions.

“By using data in a meaningful and effective manner, we can individualize instruction for many more students — helping those who are struggling and enriching those who are ready to do more,” Governor Wise says.

Read Gov. Wise’s full op-ed, Listening to the Public’s Concerns About Big Data.

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