How Can Technology Be Used to Truly Enhance Outcomes For Students?

How can technology be used to truly enhance outcomes for students? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, on Quora.

Schooling still operates in the 19th century. We need to revolutionize everything about schooling. Technologically, much of what needs to change is less front-end than the back-end systems. From taking attendance to tracking free and reduced-price lunch to data analytics around special education, it is all pretty primitive. We also must make our systems of delivering education more openly available so that innovation can occur. In other words, we need more open-source intellectual property so that worldwide we improve schooling faster and more efficiently.

In general, technology can enhance student outcomes by forcing us to make our processes more explicit. So much of what we do is intuitive -- we get into habits based on what has worked in the past, and those habits aren't always the best way to do things going forward. The more we try to automate what we do, the more we have to take all of those habits and assumptions and spell them out to the point that a computer can make sense of them. Yes, we get the benefit of having technology do things that would otherwise have to be done manually, and we get analytics to help us make better decisions, but we also get a clearer view of ourselves. Technology forces us to be brutally honest with ourselves about what we do, how we spend our time and resources, and what outcomes we achieve. It makes it hard to hide behind assumptions.

We're currently getting technology to work for us in this way on a number of fronts. We're redesigning the way we record grades, attendance, and classroom management. We're moving our HR, professional development, and performance management data into systems that can merge that information with our scholar outcomes. We're just finishing up a project that takes information about buildings, sections, staff, co-located schools and a ton of other constraints and gives principals suggestions on how to most efficiently schedule classes and maximize student opportunities for extracurricular classes.

We are particularly excited about a newly developed system that augments educators' observations with inferences from machine learning. To our knowledge, this is rarely if ever done in brick-and-mortar schools, particularly at the pre-k to 12 level. The system uses state-of-the-art modeling procedures to create interactive data visualizations that go far beyond dashboards. Dashboards aggregate data. Our system distills data into actionable insights.

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