Charter school uses big data to evaluate tablet-based education apps


A hackathon data-dive by Applied Predictive Technology (APT) that was conducted free for a charter school--D.C. Prep--revealed the effectiveness of two apps--Raz Kids and Typing Club. Raz Kids reads content to first through third grade kids and then tests their comprehension while Typing Club is a typing game for second through seventh graders. By discovering how kids learn and how well these apps match that, the school can now tweak how it teaches to turn out better trained students.

"We had this hypothesis that [Raz Kids] might influence fluency, and some of the insights APT found confirmed that," says the school's founder and chief executive Emily Lawson in an article in The Washington Post. "Now, earlier than we would have, we can start to tailor which students, and when, should use Raz Kids, and which students might be better served by doing something else."

"APT also found students followed two separate patterns in the typing game: Some tried to advance as quickly as possible, achieving the lowest minimum score required to get to the next level, while others tried to achieve the highest possible score on a level--repeating it until they did--before moving on," reports Mohana Ravindranath, author of that same article in The Washington Post.

"Over the same time period, students who aimed for mastery showed a 36 percent improvement in typed words per minute, while 'fly-through' students showed a 17 percent improvement," Ravindranath continues. "Girls tended to focus on accuracy more than boys, achieving 94 percent accuracy as compared to 91 percent in boys, while boys focused on speed, achieving an average 16.1 words per minute, with girls averaging 13.6."

While the article says the school is still working out the details of how they will use this information to improve how they educate, the takeaway here is that big data is fueling an important shift from assembly-line, bulk education to personalized learning. That shift can't happen fast enough if we are to truly leverage all talent in our future workforce.

For more:
- see The Washington Post article

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