Data: Not Just A Star Trek Character

After participating in David Warlick’s Harnassing the Perfect Storm, I cannot help but draw parallels to our own “Perfect Storm”. While the piloting of iPads and Apple TV’s is certainly exciting in and of itself, and engagement is evident, Data is not only a character from Star Trek, but an Elephant in the Classroom, needing to be embraced. I hope that you haven’t browsed away after I mentioned the “D” word, but data needs us. There always is a place for intuitive information, in fact teachers are master tacticians and statisticians: internalizing, sensing and collating data on the go and adapting their approaches and strategies. But data doesn’t need to be the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about! Case in point, we sensed and verified our belief by the tried and true “show of hands” survey that our senior students (grade 6 & 7) have almost limitless access to technology off site. This was verified – along with a wealth of other information – through a survey from SurveyMonkey created with input from peers. Students responded that they indeed have multiple devices that can connect to the Internet. Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) is a real possibility:


The data further revealed that in our Grade 7 classes 52% of students were online with a computer for more than an hour per day and less than 20% spent fewer than 30 minutes per day.


Looking deeper into the data, over 60 % of students have msn accounts, over 80% have Facebook accounts, and half have YouTube accounts. Our students are immersed in social media and as educators we need to model and provide guidance to our students.


In one class, we have begun using Edmodo, a secure platform that looks and feels like Facebook, but is under the control of the educator. In the first two weeks of use, we can anecdotally report numerous positive interactions between classmates continuing outside of the classroom walls. When comparing this class to the two other classes not using Edmodo there is a significant increase in interaction between students. In response to the question “what do you use the computer for”, the answer “interacting with other students about assignments”, is selected almost twice as often than the other classes (59% compared to 31%).



On a concerning level, while our students have a broad digital footprint, most do not have a clear understanding of the ramifications of the content they share. When asked ” how long the content they share could be available” responses overwhelmingly show a lack of awareness (responses total over 100% as they could choose multiple answers). Only 16% think that their content could be available permanently!


All of this leads towards the need for us to embrace change. Would talented, promising artists and musicians leave their best sketching pencils or instruments at home? Would they not be allowed to continue to work outside the classroom walls? That is the reality of our rapidly changing world. We need to move quickly, with the times, to allow students to bring their tools and help them use these efficiently and safely. What are the solutions to BYOD? How do we learn together to use Social Media and other Web 2.0 tools?


I believe our site is typical of many Elementary schools. Our students have a great deal of access to technology outside of the school setting and are engaged socially through their devices. The Data clearly shows that the Perfect Storm is upon us and we must adjust our sails and alter course! David Warlick clearly articulated that we are readying students for a future that is not clear, but clear in the sense that it will be infinitely different. Gone are the days where knowledge is housed solely within classroom walls; information is literally at our fingertips. Some would argue that “Resistance is Futile”, but Data can, and should, be a positive tool. One does not need to be overwhelmed by the Data “elephant”, but rather climb aboard and use it to help clarify and guide your direction.

Where are you on the Data trail? Have you seen any elephants? Please share you experiences as we move forward!

Data gathered through surveys created and administered through SurveyMonkey (

David Warlick presentation details can be located at


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