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States Need to Embrace Data-Driven Education

Measuring a student’s academic progress with valid, reliable data should go hand-in-hand with providing that child an education.

When it comes to education, we are living in the dark ages. Even as the technology-driven march of progress continues to reshape industries from automakers to financial service providers, the forces of innovation come to a screeching halt at the doors of most schools. Instead of using data to personalize instruction, most educators adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy that fails all but the most “average” child. Instead of using analytics to make schools more efficient, school administrators rely on intuition. And instead of implementing evidenced-based education policy, school boards merely follow tradition. As the Center for Data Innovation has written in a recent report, this needs to change, and making this change will require states to bring a new level of technological sophistication to their school systems.

Many parents, educators and policymakers have adopted an instinctual aversion to attempts to create a more data-driven education system. Much of this opposition is fueled by the assumption that increased reliance on data will simply drive educators to focus on helping students succeed at testing rather than at learning. In reality, data-driven education might be the very cure that schools need to avoid teaching to the test by eliminating high-stakes annual testing in favor of routine assessments of whether students have mastered specific concepts. But in a world where data-driven education is falsely equated with politically fraught programs like No Child Left Behind or Common Core, it is no surprise that all but the most courageous policymakers steer clear of these important initiatives. Instead, they are more likely to propose additional student data privacy rules, a typically meaningless gesture given existing rules, but one that erects additional barriers to collecting and using data in the classroom.

This should not be the case. After all, measuring a student’s academic progress with valid, reliable data should go hand-in-hand with providing that child an education. How can educators help students succeed if they do not know where they are struggling, where they are thriving and how they learn? While there is growing awareness that health care needs to be moving into a world of personalized medicine, where doctors treat patients based on how their individual genetics, lifestyle and environment shape their disease risk factors, few recognize the importance of creating an education system similarly designed to meet the unique needs of every child. And beyond personalized instruction, an increased used of data would enable schools to become more efficient and accountable.

Achieving this type of transformation will require schools to integrate new technologies, processes and training. Given that it has taken tens of billions of dollars in funds to incentivize doctors to adopt electronic health records and train them in how to use the technology, we should not expect to see a similar change in schools without a serious commitment of funding. While the federal government has provided grants for the development of statewide longitudinal data systems for student information, schools still need to adopt learning management systems to facilitate student instruction and assessment; backend databases to store the massive volume of data produced by these digital learning tools; and the front-end systems necessary to provide students, teachers, parents and administrators access to the relevant information.

Some states have been more ambitious than others about transforming their education system to better use data, but no state can do this alone. While states are going to be responsible for creating the tech infrastructure for data-driven education, it is the private sector that will ultimately develop many of the analytical tools that will make use of all the data. But these markets will only thrive with scale, which means states need to coordinate their efforts so that data collected in one state is compatible with data collected in another.

Education is due for a renaissance. If the future of education requires data, then state technology leaders will need to play a greater role in improving education. While this transition will not occur overnight, states should begin to look closely at how they can lay the foundation for greater use of data in education by modernizing their information systems, establishing national education data standards and changing the culture around data in the classroom.

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Create@School showcased at Bett Show 2017

On 25th Jan 2017, Create@School is showcased in Bett Show 2017 in London, which features as the world’s leading education technology event celebrated in the UK. Create@School shares the vision of Bett which is to believe in creating a better future by transforming education and bring together people, ideas, practices and technologies so that educators and learners can fulfil their potential.

Create@School is an Android-iOS App and a learning analytics web platform designed for teachers to facilitate their engagement in class. It has a special focus on gender equality and support to kids with special needs. With this app, students from 10-18 years old can create their own games with full set of available visual elements. They can directly play with it either in school with tablets provided or at home with their own mobiles, there is no intermediate obstacles to complicate their learning process. Create@School is optimised for classrooms by allowing to be projected from their own tablet or phone to the wall.

The interface of Create@School is highly user friendly. Just like in Scratch, Create@School implements an easy-to-navigate visual interface where the creation of programs, animations, digital books and games is simply at their fingertips if they can drag and pull the building blocks together. It´s also a gaming process about collaboration. Besides intellectual challenge resides in game building, Create@School can also be a tool that incite the team spirit and the spirit of mutual support. For instance, teachers can organise a game jam in class to teach students about collaboration in a simple and intuitive way.

The uptake of Create@School is easy and simple and it can be very powerful. It offers hundreds of functionalities and ready-to-use blocks. It also allows to program Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Micro:bit, as well as Lego Mindstorms robots in an intuitive way. Other than that, the Create@School approach has surpassed all its precedents in the order of magnitude. It offers interfaces that are rich in visual, animated, adapted to mobile and other multi-media platforms. Moreover, it also integrates tablet and phone sensors, the device camera, spoken input and output, as well as computer vision.

Create@School won lots of prizes and awards in Europe and the US. For instance, the Re-Imagine Education Gold Award from QS Stars and the Wharton School of Business in the US for the best European Learning App for over all fields in December 2016, the Yound Minds Award of the European Commission, as well as the Internet for Regugees Award 2016.

 

This App is available in more than 30 languages and offers a set of educational classroom materials for teachers, tried out with more than 600 students in 3 experimental pilots, covered up to 12 subjects and has been installed more than 500,000 all over the world.

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New EU Code Week record: A million coded during the 2016 edition

Last year, almost one million people (970,000) took part in one of the 23,000 EU Code Week 2016 events that took place in more than 50 countries around the world – a 70% increase in participants from 2015. Almost half (46%) of the people creating with code were girls or women and the average age of a coder was 11 years. 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of Europe Code Week, which will take place during two weeks – 7-22 October – to cater for different periods of school holidays in European countries.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market said: “I am happy that this grassroots movement has grown so popular, especially since coding is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. Confidence and creativity in using digital technologies are essential for everyone in Europe to participate fully in our digital society. Moreover, basic coding skills will most likely become indispensable for the future jobs.”

Alessandro Bogliolo, EU Code Week coordinator said: “I’m amazed by the effect that CodeWeek 2016 produced in thousands of schools, where teachers and pupils shared passion and creativity to learn and have fun together. The fifth anniversary of CodeWeek will be a great opportunity to increase and consolidate the impact of this game changer initiative.”

In addition to the nearly million people who coded under the EU Code Week umbrella in some 50 countries, another 430,000 young Africans in 30 countries were introduced to coding as part of the second Africa Code Week, which is a public/private/non-profit partnership.

EU Code Week is a grassroots movement that was created by the Young Advisors to the Digital Agenda in 2013. The goal is to show that anyone can create and build things with code – just as we do with stones, bricks, clay and wood. The initiative also wants more people to learn computational thinking, understand how computers work and get different groups – teachers, engineers, business, schools, non-profit organisations – together to offer more coding opportunities for young and old.

Young people and schools very active

Thousands of events took place both outside and in schools and engaged young people in coding, working with hardware and robots or in other ways practicing computational thinking during EU Code Week.

1,833 of the schools took part in the CodeWeek4All challenge, which aims at introducing children to coding in the classroom. More than a third of the schools (692) reached the goal of involving more than half their students – or at least 200 of them – in a coding activity. They will receive the “Certificate of excellence in coding literacy” from the European Commission.

EU Code Week’s fifth anniversary: 7-22 October 2017

EU Code Week celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2017. To make it easier for schools to participate despite differences in holiday periods in Europe, EU Code Week will take place during two weeks 7-22 October. It is already time to start planning your coding event. Get in touch with partners, book rooms, find coaches… Participants of all ages will flock to all Code Week events. There are toolkits, lesson plans and guides available on the EU Code Week website, to make the organisation of events easier.

Background

The fourth edition of EU Code Week took place 15-23 October 2016. It brought together children, teenagers, adults, parents, teachers, entrepreneurs and policymakers in events and classrooms across Europe to learn to create with code.

The initiative was launched in 2013 by the Young Advisors for the Digital Agenda for Europe. The movement has grown fast. In 2013 10,000 people tried coding, in 2014 more than 150,000 people participated, in 2015 570,000 people and in 2016 970,000 expanded their digital skills.

The EU Code Week movement is led by ambassadors who volunteer their time coordinating coding events in their countries, but anyone can organise a programming workshop and add it to the codeweek.eu map. The European Commission supports EU Code Week, by helping with communication, as part of its strategy for a Digital Single Market.

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