Posted by Nancy Barile on Saturday, 03/19/2016
Last year I was asked me to teach a graduate level course called “Documenting and Assessing Student Learning” at the college where I work (in addition to being a high school ELA teacher). I began pouring over information on the subject, and, immediately, Harvard University’s Data Wise Project emerged as the leading method and authority in using data inquiry in a collaborative way to drive continuous improvement of teaching and student learning.
I immediately ordered The Revised and Expanded Edition of Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning (Harvard Education Press, 2013), which shows how systematic and thoughtful examination of a wide range of data can be a catalyst for important schoolwide dialogue, which can lead to powerful change. The book explains how conversations about data can tap into teachers' knowledge, foster collaboration, identify obstacles to change, and enhance school culture. I watched the online videos and those on the DVD, which came with the book, and I was fascinated. Here was a tried and true way to use data to truly impact student learning.
The Data Wise Improvement Process is an 8-Step process, which asks educators to prepare, inquire, and act. In the Preparation stage, educators organize for collaborative work and build assessment literacy. During Inquiry, they create data overview, dig into student data, and examine instruction. In the Action phase of the Data Wise process, educators develop an action plan, they plan to assess progress, and they act and assess.
I wanted to know more, and I hoped to be able to bring the information to my school for possible implementation. That’s when I discovered that edX offers an online course entitled Introduction to Data Wise: A Collaborative Process to Improvement Learning and Teaching. In this course, participants learn what is involved in using data wisely to build a culture of collaborative inquiry. The course is self-paced and would take 8 to 12 hours to complete.
By participating in this online course, I would have the opportunity to share insights and experiences about school improvement with educators from around the world, while I learned how to identify the next steps in supporting a culture of collaborative data inquiry at my own school. I could enroll on my own or with colleagues at my school as a study group.
Most importantly, for $99, I could earn a micro-credential – a Verified Certificate – which would highlight the knowledge and skills that I gained through the process. I’d receive an instructor-signed certificate with the institution logo to verify my achievement, which I could add to my resume or post directly on Linked In. I decided that this micro-credential would give me additional incentive to complete the course, and I made it part of my 2016 Smart Goals at my high school.
I’m looking forward to completing my Data Wise micro-credential over my school’s April vacation holiday, as I believe it will be helpful to me as a teacher and as a sharing professional. And when I’m done, I hope to explore more micro-credentials that can help positively impact my practice and help improve outcomes for the students at my school.