“Bring Your Own Data”—the next debate

00914544_Size1024Microsoft is here at the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) 2011 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Consumerization of IT conversations are happening throughout the conference and online at the ISTE blog.  The consumerization of IT tends to focus on devices. While the conversation about whether students should bring their own devices seems pressing today, it is not the consumerization shift we need to get our collective heads around. The next debate will be about how do we enable students to “bring your own data,” regardless of their own devices.

For a long time, educators and industry leaders have been talking about removing the walls of the classroom—so that learning happens anytime and anywhere.  You have all heard the cliché. The part that never gets talked about is what happens when that is our reality.

When learning happens anytime and anywhere, by definition, it cannot only happen anytime the school or teacher deems it.  Learning will happen while children are on summer vacation visiting national/state parks.  Learning will happen while helping family or neighbors complete home projects.  Learning will happen while playing video games. Learning will happen while taking part in a summer reading program at the local library or a summer camp with the local youth group.  This is real anytime, anywhere learning.

So what happens with all of this unstructured learning data? Does it just go into our summer memories as social network photos? Is it lost?  Or can that or better should that data be brought into a digital compendium of learning to inform future instruction?

Today, schools do not have a structured process for bringing unstructured learning into “their” student records—regardless of how rich or meaningful that learning may be.  I am willing to bet that at some point in our near future, parents who work hard to give their student enrichment activities will want to see a comprehensive and contiguous record of learning for their student.

Teachers would benefit from these data addenda as well.  It expands the teacher’s understanding of how a student learns, analyzes, and applies new knowledge. This context would help differentiate instructional activities so that they are optimal for the learner. Every data point that helps paint a more elaborate picture of a student, is an opportunity to ensure that student’s academic success.

So how do we get there?

Well, that is precisely why I have said it is the next debate.

Historically, devices have never been an issue for computing.  The ability to exchange data has always been a hurdle or productivity boost.  For example, VHS cassettes can playback on any VCR. DVDs can playback on any DVD player. However, Betamax and Blu-Ray disc cannot respectively playback on the aforementioned device platforms.  So the issue remains constant—will your device/machine allow me to play, edit, store, revise, append, share, or publish my data?

I have so much more to say and I will share more soon. However, let us begin this consumer data debate now, because the device dilemma will take care of itself.


References in this article:

The “Bring Your Own Device” Debate