I was talking with a Microsoft partner this morning about how you turn education data into actionable information. It's not that we don't have the data - normally the challenge is turning data into a form that other people can appreciate it. Student management systems are a great example - they are chock-full of student data - but often it's trapped into dull reports and spreadsheets. How about unlocking it? I showed an example of a student data set visualised in Microsoft's Pivot Viewer, which is a way of seeing your data in a new way. It's ideal for student data, because what you are able to do is to see every single student in your data set, and what data is influencing their position and performance.
The video below gives you a short example of what it is and what it does - and is a great way of sparking ideas for education use, and how it can help you to create a Learning Analytics system.
If you want an idea of how it might be useful in curriculum teaching, then take a look at the World Leaders pivot. One simple click allows you to demonstrate the difference between 'data' and 'information':
On the left - World Leaders That's Data.
On the right - World Leaders sorted by Gender. Now that's Information!
If after seeing this, your question is 'How do I use Pivot', then there a group of weblinks below that you'll need - and either a friendly developer or the ear of your suppliers.
Pivot Viewer is available as an online service, through a Silverlight interface, which means that it is much easier to create browseable data sets. It does mean that you���ll need somebody with a slight programming bent to turn out a custom data set.
The Pivot overview website contains a couple of excellent videos that are great for sharing with colleagues, to help them to visualise what it can do – and to stimulate the conversation about how it could help present education data, such as student attainment.
There are also a range of web pages which are designed to help technical people with developing Pivot Collections, and to link to pre-existing data sets and databases.
Collection Design http://www.silverlight.net/learn/pivotviewer/collection-design/
Collection Tools http://www.silverlight.net/learn/pivotviewer/collection-tools/ This includes the Microsoft Excel add-in which is one way to create a collection
And there are a bunch of technical discussion forums, linked off the PivotViewer home page
I've always liked pivot and done a blog post on how you can create a school tracking sheet and then use it pivot. I've included the download as well so you can see and play with the pivot table yourself.