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Learning analytics now a key feature of school software

Analytics tools help educators visualize trends and quickly respond to at-risk student behavior

analytics

The use of analytics is a ‘natural progression’ for schools.

School software programs are getting more sophisticated in using data analytics to help educators target their instruction more effectively and personalize learning for students.

Learning and instructional management systems now include increasingly powerful “data dashboards” that show teachers and administrators what interventions their students need—and how best to deliver these.

A ‘natural progression’

“The use of analytics is a natural progression as districts continue to personalize student learning,” said Ray Ackerlund, vice president of marketing for Skyward Inc. “Having a stronger understanding of each student’s progress, and the ability to analyze data to identify trends or deficiencies, … provides a more impactful learning environment.”

During the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin last month, Skyward debuted a new data analytics tool called myDistrict360. Developed in partnership with analytics company BravePoint, it’s a customizable portal for teachers and administrators to visualize student and financial information in an easy-to-understand format.

On the instructional side, educators can set up “Watchlist Alerts” that let them know which students need extra attention, using automatic triggers they create themselves—such as a certain number of unexcused absences or missed assignments.

On the business side, school and district leaders can get a visual breakdown of their costs, and what percentage of their total budget each item represents. They can do budget forecasting by changing different variables and seeing how these changes would affect costs.

At TCEA, Schoology also announced a new analytics dashboard for its learning management system.

This enhancement to the enterprise version of Schoology helps educators measure and quantify student learning over time, the company said, using quizzes, homework, projects, test items, and other assignments that are aligned with learning outcomes.

Schoology comes pre-loaded with state and Common Core standards, so teachers can align all assignments entered into the software with these standards—or they can add their own customized learning outcomes.

(Next page: A unique approach to analytics that uses “motion graphs” to tell a story—and “recommendation engines” that can suggest specific interventions for each student)

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