Digital Tools and Analytics in Education

Like most areas of society, the digital revolution has brought changes to the work done in educational organizations and systems. These significant changes are ongoing and increasing creating new options over expanded scales. In terms of National Science Foundation (NSF) Big Ideas, my research focuses on Harnessing the Data Revolution and the Future of Work. I bring this broad social and temporal frame to interrelated areas: digital tools and organizational practices involving data for decisions. The name I use is educational digital infrastructure and analytics—an amalgam of concepts extant in education/learning science and information science communities. It is a sociotechnical approach positioned for tomorrow while encompassing problems of today that recognizes sociotechnical processes operate on systemic scales.

Education digital infrastructures is a successor to the area of learning technologies. Over the last decade the domain of instructional tools has been transformed from reliance on individual devices supporting individual or small groups of students to interdependence on components in cloud-based platforms operating over infinite scale. Infrastructures can include domain-specific teaching supports such as interactive simulations or online practice sites; learning management systems and assessment platforms; cognitive tutors, digital textbooks, and open education resource (OER) systems. What they all share in addition to being cloud-based is they all produce volumes of digital data. We can include the tools that collect and distribute information about learning activities to support analysis and decision making referred to as analytics to this category as well.