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How Data Analytics Answers Three Essential Questions for Successful Remote Learning



Because public health concerns have driven so many districts to adopt hybrid and remote education models, educators nationwide are now grappling with new pedagogical problems. For instance, how can schools effectively leverage the power of technology to promote student learning outside the traditional classroom? How can they deliver learning continuity across all education modalities to ensure students aren’t falling through the cracks? And how can schools do so without sacrificing student data security?

Fortunately, many districts have successfully navigated the challenges and have even taken advantage of the opportunity to develop new, data-driven pedagogical methods that achieve results. One such district is Duncanville Independent School District. Just outside Dallas, Texas, this district is leveraging the power of CatchOn, an expansive data analytics tool, to track digital engagement at the student level. Doing so enables the district to quickly identify and remedy any usage gaps and pinpoint students in need of additional help or resources.

To help other districts achieve similar results, Ms. Shawntee Cowan, Chief Technology Officer for Duncanville ISD, and Dr. Silvia Martinez, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, recently shared in a Tech & Learning Leadership Roundtable how they’ve used CatchOn to successfully transition a diverse, urban district of 12,000 students and eighteen campuses to a remote learning environment.

Ms. Cowan and Dr. Martinez outline how educators can use CatchOn to come up with data-driven answers to three crucial questions facing districts.

“We simply have to make sure our students are engaged.

–Ms. Shawntee Cowen, Chief Technology Officer, Duncanville ISD

1. How do I track student usage and engagement?

With so much instruction now taking place online, a top priority for districts has been finding a way of tracking how students are engaging their devices and their lessons. “We simply have to make sure our students are engaged,” explained Ms. Cowan. “We have to understand actual usage. CatchOn really helped us with that.”
Using the tool’s analytics and customizable platform, educators in Duncanville ISD were able to gain the visibility they needed to track actual student engagement in real time. “We were able to go into the system and see not just usage in the district as a whole, but the usage based on the campus, as well as the course and a specific teacher,” Ms. Cowan explained.

Because CatchOn compiles data on every district device no matter where it is used, the tool has also been instrumental to the district’s success in navigating new challenges when they arise. “For instance,” said Dr. Martinez, “sometimes we want to know why usage is lower in a certain tool or program. We need to know what we can do to support or communicate in a different way. CatchOn helps us get real answers to these important questions.”

The district relied on CatchOn’s data analytics to ensure a smooth transition. Dr. Martinez and her team looked at each program’s usage throughout the district to determine which campuses and teachers required more training on new pedagogical tools.

2. How do I promote effective professional development in a remote learning environment?

The transition to remote learning models has been just as challenging for teachers as it has been for students and families. With Duncanville ISD’s teachers asked to adopt and deliver results through an entirely new instructional format, it was essential that the district find ways of providing ongoing support. “When COVID started, we needed to train very quickly and very effectively,” Ms. Cowan said. “Professional development was key because we had to make sure that our staff and our students understood what our new expectations were.”

The district relied on CatchOn’s data analytics to ensure a smooth transition. Dr. Martinez and her team looked at each program’s usage throughout the district to determine which campuses and teachers required more training on new pedagogical tools. “For instance,” Ms. Cowan said, “if usage somewhere was not as high as anticipated, we knew to make a plan to go specifically to those campuses and to those specific teachers and work with them. The good news is we were able to overcome those obstacles and get a better foundation for the fall.”

Dr. Martinez agreed, observing that CatchOn allowed her to communicate more effectively with staff. “First, we asked ourselves what it is we’re trying to communicate to our staff,” she explained. “And what can we do to support or communicate in a different way? With insights generated from data, I feel like we really closed some communication gaps throughout the spring and strengthened our ongoing conversation.”

3. How do I know my district is using effective apps without sacrificing data security?

An obstacle districts now face is figuring out just which apps are proving most effective in remote and hybrid learning environments—and then making sure all students are using those apps.

For instance, Dr. Martinez was surprised this spring when a teacher approached her to learn more about an app the teacher’s students were using: a school had bought and deployed the app unbeknownst to her. “And so I immediately logged into CatchOn,” Dr. Martinez said. “I went and looked at the usage and boom, there it was. We did have a significant amount of usage for this product. The problem was we had only purchased the resource in English only, but some of our principals wanted to use it in Spanish. And so it was great to be able to tell my executive director we are using this effective resource and should invest more in it.”

Such visibility into districtwide application use is even more essential to safeguarding student data because CatchOn makes it easy to track each app’s privacy policy. “With CatchOn, we were not only able to find free software programs that we would have never found otherwise,” said Dr. Martinez, “but we were also able to click a single link to learn more about each one’s data privacy agreement. That is so key.”

Invest Wisely

Evaluate software renewals with actual usage and financial data, not surveys.

Detect Trends

Discover what free or unknown apps are being used.

Manage Subscriptions

Manage licenses, costs, ROI, and renewals from an easy-to-access dashboard.

Inform Training

Identify gaps in usage by tool to create targeted professional development and training plans.

Student Data Privacy

Diagnose applications vulnerable to student data privacy policies.

Improve Usage

Review important classroom apps to ensure they are being used effectively.

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