By Kevin Shane / June 21, 2017
Data Usability and the Hidden Costs for Schools
Education tends to lag behind other industries in many respects…
- Computers became much more prevalent in offices before they became common in schools.
- Internet usage was standard in businesses before it became even available in many schools.
- Word processors were widespread while students in schools were still only learning cursive.
Data have (I know this sounds weird, but it’s correct. I had a college professor who hated when people got this wrong) been used heavily in business forecasting, healthcare, sports, social sciences, and more before education started to catch up. Another area where education lags behind others is the intersection of usability of software and data.
Education software usually runs into the problem of cost. Schools have tight budgets and can’t afford to pay for newer software – they are left using old, outdated software that in many cases isn’t compatible with modern computers. As a result, legacy student information systems can be unwieldy and reports can be difficult to generate. This can waste time for teachers, the school technology department, administrators, and take time away from students. Teachers and administrators wrestling with outdated, barely-usable software simply don’t have as much time to dedicate to students. Schools are forced to continue with this software until they can finally put together money in their budget to switch. However, in the time they’ve wasted with the outdated software, they’ve probably lost more money in terms of teacher and administrator hours than they have saved. These problems are only becoming worse as educators are expected to use data more and more.
It might be helpful for schools to think of their “savings” in terms of this equation:
This equation is important to monitor. If the “adjusted new product cost” ever falls below the actual cost of getting a new product, you will save money and time in the long run. This means that the time educators are wasting on the old product is less than the time they would save by upgrading. In the life of a school, monetary decisions should be made for long-term benefit if possible.
Collecting and analyzing data has become vital to the educational process. However, many services schools use to accomplish this are very awkward and frustrating to use. Data shouldn’t be something that is difficult to view and make sense of. For example, teachers shouldn’t have to wrestle with software in order to find out how many days a student has been absent. Administrators shouldn’t have to spend valuable time searching for the right report they need to present to the school board. If data are available, it should be easy to access so that educators can spend their time helping students.
At Learnmetrics, we’re dedicated to helping educators get the most out of their data in an efficient manner. We can do most of the heavy lifting in terms of extracting & visualizing data, and generating useful metrics for schools. Time shouldn’t be wasted sifting through cumbersome software and large amounts of data. We will help make your data actionable and manageable.
We have clients who used to spend hours and hours each week/month getting the information they needed out of their data. These schools would spend valuable time downloading reports from multiple sources, each taking time to dig through menus, generate reports, and editing and/or combining those reports to become useful. Now that they have started working with us at Learnmetrics, that data is updated at whatever schedule they choose, and it becomes actionable right away without them having to waste time getting the data to that point.
We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out for a demo or just to talk DATA!