By Kevin Shane / December 5, 2017

Data Vocabulary 4: Some of Many!

We’re back again with three more terms to add to our continuing data vocabulary series. Hopefully, these terms help you better understand and use your data!

Beginner – “Database”

If you’ve heard anything about storing data, you’ve probably heard about a database of some kind. A database is an organized collection of data generally managed in a way to keep them useful and the information contained and quickly accessible. Each school/district should have access to a database containing information about students. The database might be organized to be searchable by student name, which leads to it being useful and quickly accessible. There are probably more complicated databases working behind the scenes as well that many educators would never be aware of. In many cases, not seeing this process is a good thing because it makes your data actionable instead of having it buried somewhere obscure. Having an accessible database can help you quickly get started using your data to make a difference in your school.

Intermediate – “Aggregate vs. Disaggregate”

Aggregate and disaggregate are, like many of these terms, probably things you’re aware of but may not know the terms to describe them. Aggregate data is data that has been collected from multiple sources to measure multiple things and combined into data summaries. Disaggregate data is data that has been aggregated and then broken down to gain insights into different areas. For example, individual test scores for students can be aggregated into average scores for a school. Then, that data can be disaggregated into groups like test scores by grade level, scores by males vs. females, etc. Both types of data have a variety of different uses, and nobody should be determined to always use one type.

Advanced – “Metadata”

Metadata is data that provides information about other data. The first time I heard the term, was in reference to digital photos. The actual data of a digital photo, the picture itself, can be described with the metadata: When the picture was taken, how large the image is, what kind of camera it was taken with, amount of megapixels, etc.

For education, metadata can be used in a variety of ways:

  • What time of day/month/season did students take that test?
  • What classroom did that behavior incident happen in?
  • When students submit assignments online, what time did they submit the assignment? Days before it was due or right at the last second?

All of these questions can refer to metadata.

Hope these explanations shined some light and that you took something out of this post. As always, we would love to talk with you more about these or any terms related to data! Happy Tuesday!

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