Teaching in normal conditions is hard. But teaching during the pandemic is even harder.
The onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 has forced many public and private learning institutions to shift to take-home modules and online classes. As we’ve seen in the past year, these alternative learning modes have inherent limitations that make it difficult for educators to provide students with quality education. At the most basic level, the lack of in-person interactions in a brick-and-mortar classroom prevents teachers from effectively guiding students through difficult concepts or subjects.
Though in-person classes are slowly coming back to life, only a small percentage of Philippine schools are allowed to participate in this experiment.
Given the difficulties of the situation, it is easy for educators to give up on trying to make a difference in students’ lives. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Light that comes from an informed use of data.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Teachers, like many other professionals, can benefit from the use of data in these trying times to improve not only the completion of their tasks, but the quality of the output they produce for their end-users - in this case, the students.
If you’re a numbers-shy or technologically-challenged educator, don’t worry. We got your back if you want to learn more about how upgrading your data skills can help you make a positive difference in your learners’ lives despite the negativity of the pandemic.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in and find out the 3 ways by which data education can help you in your career as an educator.
What comes to mind when you hear the words “grades” and “attendance”? If you’re thinking about class records, you’re partly right.
However, seeing data through a more thoughtful and informed lens gives a whole new meaning to these two words.
A data-literate teacher can extract a lot of insights out of seemingly ordinary data like grades and absences. These pieces of information, given the right data skills and tools, can reveal what topics or subjects need to be focused on, what teaching methods work best (or not), etc. Since many classes these days are online, data is constantly generated primarily through learning management systems (LMS). These online educational systems generally hold the data that skilled teachers can extract and manipulate in order to design better educational experiences for learners.
If you want to know more about data-powered tools which you can use for improving your educational methods, you may click here to go straight to the relevant section of this blog.
Likewise, an investment in data education multiplies a teacher’s abilities. Skills in data science and data analytics enable teachers to simplify routine tasks so they can focus on enhancing the learning experience of their students or even seek merit-based promotion to the higher ranks of school administration.
The prevalence of Internet-based learning management systems (LMS) during the pandemic means one thing: student outputs and related statistics are made instantly electronic. Therefore, data is automatically generated every time a student submits a quiz or research paper. In many cases, an LMS automatically translates every mistake or correct answer in a quiz into data that can be processed by specialized apps.
If you invested money in quality data education, you could automate the process of encoding, cleaning, and analyzing LMS data instead of manually tallying statistics like the number of right or wrong answers students gave. This automation of routine tasks could help you better understand your students and identify their learning challenges. For instance, in case LMS data analysis reveals that a student like Maria frequently makes mistakes on a particular topic, interventions like class reviews or one-on-one tutorials focusing on that topic could be arranged.
The benefits of data education, however, does not end in the classrooms.
As many educators know, there is more to teaching than just inspiring and instructing students.
Like any career, being a teacher involves working with colleagues and organizational leaders. Therefore, in order to remain relevant in the institution where a teacher works, he or she must have knowledge and skills that are desirable and useful.
This is where data upskilling comes in handy.
If you acquired new skills in data science or data analytics, you would become a desirable asset in your institution. For example, if your data competencies were up to industry standards, you would be able to support your institution better through an improved way of gathering, storing, and tracking data. This, in turn, would help you provide quantitative evidence to your academic superior as you justify your need for certain school equipment or learning materials. For instance, if you were able to convincingly present statistics showing your students are struggling with using a computer, you would be better able to convince your principal or chief administrator to acquire more cutting-edge software and hardware. After all, competently processed and well-presented data is much more convincing than opinions when you want to highlight existing challenges in the learning environment!
If your intention is to get that juicy promotion or land a job in a high-performing school, data education may also increase your chances of succeeding.
Schools and tertiary institutions like colleges these days need tech-savvy educators. After all, the widespread opening of online classes has led to the need for teachers to know at least basic computer skills. An edtech company mentions in a 2021 BusinessWorld article that training teachers in the usage of information and communications technology (ICT) is necessary for remote or online learning to succeed. In a related development, a Philippine Star news item mentioned that around 300,000 public school teachers underwent ICT training in 2020.
Therefore, it is clear that having skills in ICT is essential for educators to thrive these days.
Since data science and data analytics involve extensive use of cutting-edge software and hardware, education in these two fields helps teachers become more savvy with using ICT. Since ICT skills are highly sought-after in today’s educational institutions, educators who invest resources in data upskilling will have a better chance of either getting hired or attaining a higher rank or position of responsibility.
Aside from this, both private and public schools are increasingly pushed to be data-driven, given the challenges of online learning. A school teacher mentions in a 2020 Rappler article that the time she spends preparing materials for four modes of learning could have been used more efficiently if she had obtained good data on which modes students will use. This anecdote shows that data upskilling can help a teacher design more time-efficient and cost-effective educational experiences for his or her students. This enhanced ability to intelligently prepare learning programs can make an educator highly desirable both within and outside his or her learning institution.
Now that you know how data education can benefit teachers, it is time to be familiar with some data-centric tools that are available on the market today.
You cannot mandate productivity, you must provide the tools to let people become their best. These words came from Steve Jobs, visionary founder of Apple and inventor of the iconic iPhone.
Following Jobs’ line of thinking, teachers can’t be at their best if they don’t have the tools to collect, interpret, and manipulate the data they have at hand.
Thankfully, the tech world has produced a lot of software applications (apps) that help teachers make sense of massive volumes of data. These tools have been used by people ranging from math wizards to those who are numbers-shy.
For the more visually-inclined, many learning management systems (LMS) have the capability to turn classroom statistics into visualizations like bar and line graphs. Aside from this, software like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel also enable users to turn data sets like numbers or names into meaningful visuals. There are also cases when LMS interfaces have the capability to transfer data to either or both of these two apps.
However, if you’re the type of teacher who wants to delve deeper into data visualizations, more advanced tools like PowerBI and Tableau are also available. Check out our Data Analytics Bootcamp primer to see how our students (who are sometimes teachers by profession!) learn how to use these two cutting-edge apps to derive enlightening conclusions from visualizations.
Visualizations, however, are not the only way to leverage data for education.
Data science and the related field of artificial intelligence (AI) have also been instrumental in the development of advanced software such as Python and R. These two programming languages enable data-skilled teachers to provide students personalized learning and use predictive modeling to estimate learner success. If you want, you can check out our Data Science Fellowship primer to find out how Python is taught in our data upskilling track.
Eskwelabs is a combination of the Filipino word for school, “eskwela,” and “labs” or laboratory.
The spirit of innovation and experimentation found in laboratories is the same spirit that drives us at Eskwelabs as we continue to find new ways to improve the lives of professionals through data education.
Teachers are among the many professionals that we serve.
To help busy professionals like teachers gain access to quality data education, we have made our 12-week Data Science Fellowship and 8-week Data Analytics Bootcamp fully available online. If you are an educator specializing in a non-tech or non-mathematical field, you may feel safe to know that we have helpful mentors in addition to instructors. These mentors, who have extensive industry experience, will closely guide you as you create data projects. Rest assured that our mentors don’t leave any of our learners behind.
We also have online and freely-accessible pre-bootcamp events that can help you ease your way into the world of data science or data analytics. Some of these events involve review sessions for our entrance assessments. Others feature our graduates’ data projects and how these outputs helped address relevant social, educational or business problems. Click here if you want to learn more about our special online events, which we offer to any curious individual, company, or organization.
If you’re worried about the cost of a data education, we got that covered too! Our financing partners Bukas and InvestEd are working with us to ensure that your tuition payments are made more manageable and easier on the budget.
Teachers affect eternity: they can never tell where their influence stops. These words from the American historian Henry Adams show how powerful teachers can be in making a difference not only in their students’ lives, but also in society. With data education, the light that teachers spread becomes much brighter, making them the ideal beacons to guide future generations towards truth and virtue.