Data System Users Care Most About How Data Is Communicated Back to Them

SAS released 2013 Big Data Survey Research Brief (SAS, 2013), summarizing results from a global survey concerning organizations’ use of big data. When the 339 respondents were asked what they wanted from data management systems, their #1 answer (73%) was “data visualizations and dashboards.” While administered in the business realm rather than to educators, these findings echo educator sentiments that are sometimes not reflected in data system priorities: the whole reason educators are using a data system is to get helpful info out of it. It matters not how quickly, easily, attractively, and “high techie” data is collected and stored if the ultimate product – the manner in which that data is reported back to educators – is deeply flawed. This disconnect between educators’ needs (backed by research findings indicating properly-displayed data better assists educators’ analyses and thus students) and data system displays is one of the key factors driving the Over-the-Counter Data (OTCD) movement.


Fortunately, some entities are tackling the problem of voices from research and education not being reflected in edtech products. For example, EdSurge (Wan, 2013) reports the massive MindCET edtech inclubator in Israel has structured whole departments around educators and researchers, involving them directly in the edtech innovation process. Even the center’s description notes its role as bringing together entrepreneurs, educators, and researchers. As EdSurge (Wan, 2013) notes, this is a welcome change from models where teachers were relegated to the background in similar edtech projects. The sooner data system companies shift to models where research and educators play pivotal roles in the way data display is planned and executed, the better.


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