School & District Management Opinion

What Information Should Show Up Day One With Students?

By Tom Vander Ark — September 01, 2012 2 min read
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Co-written By Tom Vander Ark and Carri Schneider, Getting Smart

Students went back to school last week (or will next week) but most did not arrive with any information. Teachers get to know a lot about their students
but there is no systematic way to share that when students move from grade-to-grade or school-to-school. As a result, most teachers start from scratch,
trying to unlock the student-learning puzzle.

Any parent who has ever tried to access his or her student’s school records or any teacher who has ever been handed a standard cumulative file for a new
student knows that the current system of student record-keeping and data-sharing leaves much to be desired. The current student record represents such a
small fraction of the learner’s overall profile, and what is collected is often only accessible through complicated systems of records requests, file
folders, wait-time, and frustration.

We’re attempting to tackle the 10 big implementation issues at the intersection of college/career readiness standards and personal digital learning. Last
week in partnership with Digital Learning Now!, we released our first paper “Funding the Shift to Digital Learning.”

In our second paper, we want to address the following problem and opportunity:

Kids show up in a new grade/school with little/no information requiring every teacher to start from scratch building an understanding of a student’s needs
and capabilities. Any information teachers do have access to is largely summative and gives teachers little insight into the learner’s individual strengths
and weaknesses.

The nation’s EdTech Plan “calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences
for all learners. The model asks that we focus what and how we teach to match what people need to know, how they learn, where and when they will learn, and
who needs to learn...It leverages the power of technology to provide personalized learning and to enable continuous and lifelong learning.”

Customized learning will require a smart recommendation engine that is based upon a comprehensive learner profile that represents a holistic view of the
learner over time. The profile must be expanded to include formative data, student work samples and more. Without a robust plan to collect, share, and
protect a comprehensive learner profiles we will not unlock the potential of personalized learning.

For the next two weeks we’ll be in interview mode and we could use your help. Consider these questions:

  1. When a student moves from grade-to-grade or school-to-school, what information should a teacher have available to get to know his or her new student?

  2. Is there any data that you would NOT want to follow a student?

  3. Customized learning requires a comprehensive learner profile. Besides typical gradebook entries, what kind of data about students is likely to prove

  4. How should parents and teachers work together to maximize the value of the profile while minimizing privacy concerns?

  5. Are there examples you might share of people leading the way in these areas?

  6. What do you see as the greatest challenges to creating these systems?

If you have an opinion on any of these questions, please comment or send us an email:

and Carri@GettingSmart.com. Also, tweet your thoughts to @TVanderArk, @CarriSchneider, or #smartseries during our Twitter chat 9:00 a.m. PT Friday, September 7, 2012.

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.