Strategies for Gathering Student Data with more Care

Amy Collier provides seven strategies for taking more care when working with data:

Audit student data repositories and policies associated with third-party providers. Document every “place” that student data goes and what the policies are for handling student data. What third parties have access to student data, why do they have access, and what can they do with the data? Who decides — and how are decisions made — about third-party access to student data? Do students get a say?Have a standard and well-known policy about how to handle external inquiries for student data and information. This is less about staff mishandling student data and more about the coercion and intimidation that could yield problematic results if there are no clear guidelines for staff to follow. Even if designated a digital sanctuary, a campus may be legally bound to release some student data, but it should have clear processes and requirements associated with those situations. Staff should understand how and when they can say no to inquiries about students, and campuses should investigate the legal limits of noncompliance with such inquiries.Provide an audit of data to students who want to know what data is kept on them, how the data is kept, where it is kept, and who else has access. That is, if students want to know about their data, the institution should be able to give them that information. Better yet, students should be allowed to download every bit of their data so that they can parse it themselves. Consider giving students a chance to rap the sanctuary knocker to signal their desire for more data protections.Have clear guidelines and regulations for how data is communicated and transmitted between offices. Campuses can better protect student data transmitted between the people and offices that should have access (e.g., by not transmitting data via e-mail). Campuses should have clear policies and guidelines about the protection of student data on mobile devices.Take seriously the data policies of third-party vendors. Don’t work with vendors whose contracts stipulate that they can use and share student data without the consent of students or the institution.9Closely examine and rethink student-tracking protocols. How necessary are learning dashboards? What are the risks of early-warning systems? How problematic are the acceptable use policies? How long does the institution need to keep data? Does it really need all of the data being collected?Give students technological agency in interacting with the institution. Implementing a Domain of One’s Own initiative, which puts students in the system administrator role for their domain, can be a way to give students more control and protection over their data. This may not be enough, however, since students could easily expose themselves to malicious and dangerous forces (e.g., hackers) through their own domains. A robust educational and mentoring program is also required. As a result, students can learn how to connect their data, via their domains, in ways that are safer and more manageable. source

Decentralised Networks

The web by its nature is decentralised, however platforms often try to centralise it. Paul Ford discusses the benefits of setting up your own server and the lessons one is able to learn through the process.

Then I look at Raspberry Pi Zeros with Wi-Fi built in and I keep thinking, what would it take to just have a little web server that was only for three or four people, at home? Instead of borrowing computer time from other people I could just buy a $10 computer the size of a stick of gum. Which next year could be a $7 computer, and eventually a $1 computer. It could run a Dropbox-alike, something like OwnCloud. It’s easy in theory but kind of a pain in practice.I’d need to know how to open ports on my home router.I’d need to be able to get the headless device onto WiFi.I’d need a place to plug it in, plugs are hard to come by.It needs to physically be somewhere.It would need a case.You need to buy an SD card with Linux on it.And on and on.The world doesn’t want us to run web servers at home. But I do. I really think we should run web servers from gumstick computers at home. source

This is a topic that Dave Winer also touches upon.

Participation within Assemblages

Ian Guest reflects on the nature of participation from the perspective of their place within an assemblage:

What about the epistemological contribution of the nonhumans I wondered? Leaving aside the potentially emotive discussion of animals in research for a moment, I’m not going to claim that nonhumans should be part of our ethical discussions; they’re not likely to care whether we call them subjects or participants. Actor-network theory troubles the dichotomous distinctions of subject and object or researcher and researched. If we think instead of the assemblage of which the research output is part, then the researcher/participant/interviewee, the media through which they interact, the data they generate, the reflections which are made and the texts which emerge, all influence one another. They are all entangled or interwoven, jointly responsible, more or less, in the production of the thesis, book or article. The output is not seen as the culmination of a linear sequence of events in which different actors participated at different times, but as an interwoven, performed assemblage. Named or not, all those who contributed to or collaborated in my research will be present in my thesis assemblage, intimately bound there by virtue of their ontological contribution. source

This reminds me of the research into lurkers and their role online.

Checked into Flipping the Learning
This is a collection of instructions that were turned into a blog, located at:

Here is a PDF copy of the resource, which includes screenshots.


Starting a Blog

The term blog derives from ‘web log’ and was initially coined to describe “discrete entries (posts) typically displayed in reverse chronological order.” There are many different platforms out there, each having their benefits and negatives. What does not change is the focus presenting mixed media, including video, text, images and audio. Blogging provides many opportunities.

Kathleen Morris discusses a number of benefits, including home-school connections, authentic audiences, developing a classroom community and ICT skills. Here is a guide to starting a blog with Global2:

  1. GLOBAL2 HOMEPAGE: Go to the Global2 homepage ( and click ‘Log In’ in the top left hand corner.
  2. LOG IN: If you already have an account, enter your credentials and sign in. Otherwise, click ‘Register’ to sign up for a new account.
  3. REGISTER AN ACCOUNT: Enter a username, valid email address and decide if you want to start a site or just create an account. Usernames can only contain lowercase letters (a-z) and numbers, while the email account used must relate to your educational institution, for the domains associated with state and Catholic schools have already been entered into the system. It is important to think about what personal information is posted online and this starts with a username. You are also required to agree to the terms of service listed.
  4. CREATE A SITE: The next step is to create a web address and site title. The address must be at least four characters long and include a mixture of letters and numbers. There is also a range of privacy settings to help define the audience of the site. The department recommends the ME WE SEE model in breaking down these differences. Other than the address, the rest of this information can be changed at any point (Settings > Reading). Therefore, it is a good idea restricting permissions to just the owner until comfortable in sharing with the world.
  5. DASHBOARD: Once signed up and/or signed in, users are taken to dashboard. From here it is possible to do many things, including creating a post, uploading media and installing plugins.

Embedding Third-Party Content

A number of web services allow users to insert content. This can be useful in enhancing your site, without adding additional plugins and functionality. Here is a guide to embedding content with Global2:

  1. CREATE NEW ENTRY: Go to the top of the blog and click on ‘new’. This entry can be a post, wiki or page. They all allow embedding.
  2. EMBED CONTENT: There are two methods for embedding content with Global2:


Edublogs builds on the code to automatically embed content from some services, including Flickr, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Scribd, SlideShare and Pinterest. (See this Edublog post for a full list of sites and steps involved.) This involves pasting the full URL on a separate line and making sure that it is not hyperlinked.



For services not supported, you can use an embed code to add content. To do this, go to ‘Add Media’ where you can paste in the embed code.


NOTE: One of the benefits of an actual embed code is that you can directly adjust the various attributes, such as height and width. It is also possible to paste the code in directly using the text editor as opposed to the visual editor.


Podcasting is a means of capturing multimedia via RSS and taking the content with you. Although it is often associated with audio, it includes video as well. This content can be inserted via the media library, listing this as a podcast provides a feed that is searchable, subscribable and downloadable. One of the challenges is finding a service to manage this process. Global2 provides a plugin which supports this task.


  1. INSTALL PLUGIN: Go to Plugins menu and search ‘podcast’. Once found, activate the podcast plugin.
  2. SETUP ACCOUNT: A new sub-menu is added to the Settings menu (Settings Menu > Podcasting). Open this and work through the various options, including title, summary, tags, categories and player options. Once everything is complete, press ‘Save Changes’.
  3. ADD MEDIA: Create a file and upload this into the media library by clicking ‘Add New’ in the Media menu. Copy the URL associated with the uploaded file.
  4. CREATE POST: Begin a new post. There is a space at the bottom of the editor to paste the link to the media file. Once added, assign author and keywords associated with the file. Then click ‘Send to Editor’ to add shortcode into the post and publish to finish.

NOTE: Although podcasts can be both audio and video, the maximum file upload for Global2 is 50mb which limits the use of video.


Making a Class Blog

Blogs can provide a means for managing a whole class to collectively engage in learning. Watch this video from Sue Waters for a short introduction:

Unlike other spaces, such as Google Classroom or Edmodo, blogs can also provide more control over content. Using a theme like Houston also provides a useful introduction to social media. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up a class blog:

  1. CREATE A CLASS: Identify a site to act as a hub. This might be a new site or a pre-existing one. Once decided, ‘Create a Class’. This is done via the My Class menu (My Class > Create a Class).
  2. SET UP CLASS SITE: Work through the settings. First, confirm the site is to become a hub. Then decide how this site will be used, whether posts and comments will be moderated and the privacy settings applied to all the blogs.
  3. BONUS – CREATE STUDENT USERS AND BLOGS: When creating student accounts and new users, it is important to consider the details that might be provided through the username and URL. A simple rule to follow is to avoid putting three pieces of personal information, this includes things such as tagging names on photos in the metadata. Edublogs provide further suggestions here.

NOTE: In addition to students, teachers can be added to multiple student blogs via the Users Menu (Users > Add New).

Creating a Shared YouTube Channel

Although individuals can have a channel where content is posted, another way of collaborating is through a Brand Account. With multiple owners, there is no need for a separate username or password.

  1. CREATE A NEW CHANNEL: Go to overview in the settings and create a new channel (YouTube Settings > Overview > Create a New Channel). As with any channel, there is a requirement to verify the account.
  2. ADD USERS: The difference between a brand account and a personal account is that multiple users can be added to a brand account. To add users, go to Add and Remove Managers (YouTube Settings > Overview > Add and Remove Managers). This takes users to the page where they are able to adjust the information attached to the account.
  3. SETTING PERMISSIONS: There are three roles associated with users attached to a brand account. Owners control all aspects of the channel, while managers can add videos. Communication managers have no privileges associated with YouTube. This is a role associated with other platforms, such as Google+.

NOTE: The other way of setting up a brand account is by transferring the content associated to an existing Google Account. To do this, users go to YouTube Settings. In the settings, choose to Move channel to Brand Account. Users are then required to select the Brand Account they would like the content transferred to.  This can be useful if starting from scratch or wanting to transfer ownership.

Adding Media

Beyond adding text, links and formatting, there are a number of options for adding media to posts and pages. The first step is to upload the files to the media library. There are several ways to do this:

  • When you click + New at the top of the page, there is the option to add media.
  • At the top of the Post and Page pages there is an Add Media button
  • If you are in the Media Library there is an also an Add New button.

NOTE: In regards to media, you can upload documents, videos, audio, images and a few other formats, such as .xml and .kmz. The maximum file size allowed is 50mb (a particular constraint when it comes to video), while there is a 2gb limit for the site overall. You are also able to add a range of information, such as title, caption and description, as well as apply basic edits to images. Other than embedding a media player to play video and inserting images, media is added as a link within the text.


Plugins are small applications which extend the functionality of the site. This is what differentiates Global2 and WordPress from other content platforms.


There are a number of plugins available, including those addressing appearance, forms, media, administration, social media and widgets. Here is a guide for adding a plugin to a site:

  1. PLUGIN MENU: Go to Plugins menu. This can be accessed via the Dashboard.
  2. EXPLORING PLUGINS: There are a range of categories that allow users to focus their search. Otherwise, there is the option to type keywords into the searchbox.

Some plugins available include:

Categories Name Description
Appearance Custom CSS Enables users to modify the theme by adding a custom stylesheet
Supreme Google Webfonts Provides the option to change font type and size within the visual editor
Table of Contents Automatically adds a table of contents to posts, pages and sidebars.
Media VR Viewer
Meta Slider Enables the addition of a slideshow to posts, pages and sidebars.
Podcast Enhances WordPress’ existing audio support by adding iTunes feeds, media players, and an easy to use interface.
Posts & Pages Embed Any Document Allows users to easily embed any document into posts and pages.
TinyMCE Advanced Provides extra features to the visual editor and organises them using a series of menu tabs.
AddThis Social Share Adds a series of share buttons to the base of every page and post.

See Edublogs for a complete description of what is available. This also includes links to additional support pages for each.

ACTIVATE PLUGIN: Once a plugin has been chosen, activate it to add it to the site.

ADJUST SETTINGS: Most plugins provide additional settings to adjust. These are either housed within the Settings menu or as a menu themselves.

Embed 360 Content

Although Google allows you to contribute to Google Maps, there are times when you may not want this content to be posted publicly. The VR Viewer plugin allows you to embed your own 360 content into a post.   

  1. CREATE A 360o IMAGE: Using a mobile device, capture a 360o photograph to a desktop computer. Google have a list of tools and applications that can be used.
  2. ACTIVATE VR PLUGIN: Go to Plugins menu and search ‘VR’. Once found, activate the VR Viewer plugin. There is no menu associated with this, activating simply builds the functionality into the site.
  3. UPLOAD 360o IMAGE: Upload the 360o image into the media library by clicking ‘Add New’ in the Media menu. Copy the URL associated with the uploaded file.
  4. EMBED WITHIN A POST: Switch to the text editor and paste in the follow shortcode [vrview url=”{URL}” stereo=”false” width=”100%” height=”400px”], replacing {URL} with the URL associated with the uploaded file.

NOTE: If you wish to add an existing Street View image to a post, Google provides an embed code. This is found in the top left corner of any Street View. Personal images can also be contributed to Google Maps. Go to the menu in Maps and click on ‘Your Contributions’ to upload.

Organising Resources with Awesome Tables

The Awesome Table website defines it as so:

Awesome Table lets you display the content of a Google Sheet into various types of views: From a simple table to people directories, Gantt chart views, Google Maps, card views… There are many possibilities to suit your personal and professional needs. With it, data in Sheets are shown in a more functional way and can be shared with viewers.

From a flipped point of view, Awesome Table can provide a way of organising resources and then embedding this dynamic table somewhere:

  1. GO TO SITE: Sign into with your Google account. This will then link with Google Sheets.
  2. CHOOSE A TEMPLATE: Preview the different templates provides and once happy, click Use Template to create a copy.
  3. INPUT THE DATA: Open the Spreadsheet attached to the template. There are two sheets tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet: data and template. To use the basic template as is, delete the dummy data and add your own. Depending on the template selected, you may need to refer to the support site for information related to the upload of specific elements such as images.
  4. CUSTOMISING TEMPLATE: If there are fields that you do not want built into the template, then you can change the headings in the Data sheet. However, make sure that you do the same within the Template sheet.
  5. SHARING AND EMBEDDING DISPLAYS: Once complete, it is possible to both share a link to the display or embed it using an iframe.

NOTE: It is possible to really customise an Awesome Table or even start from scratch. For those wanting to go down this path, there is a support site with a range of documentation. John Stewart has also written a useful introduction.



Flipping the Teacher – Steve Wheeler provides an introduction to ‘flipped learning’.

Flipped Learning Simplified – Jon Bergmann thoughts and advice associated with flipped learning.

Joel Speranza – A blog collecting a number of tips and tricks to support teachers with flipped learning.

Mister Wootube – Eddie Woo provides a wide array of a ‘not quite’ flipped classroom videos, where he captures the learning moment as it happens.

Virtual Reality

Connecting Classrooms with Google Module – A unit exploring resources from Google that assist with connecting classrooms including Virtual Field Trips, Expeditions and Google Arts and Culture.

Create Street View in a Snap – A collection of resources associated with creating your own street view.

(Un)folding a virtual journey with Google Cardboard – Clay Bavor provides an update on the take-up of Google Cardboard.

VR in the Classroom: Early lessons learned from Google Expeditions – Google I/O 2016 – Google Expeditions team will share what they’ve learned about making compelling VR apps for the classroom

A list of all available Expeditions – A curated list of all the available Expeditions.

Weekly Teacher Tips for Using Google Expeditions in the Classroom – A weekly set of tips provided by Google around the use of Expeditions.

Tool Review: #GOOGLEEXPEDITIONS Virtual Reality App and Getting Real? Google Cardboard and Virtual Reality in Education – Bill Ferriter and Ronnie Burt provide reflections on Google Cardboard and the virtual reality experience.

Creating Virtual Reality Content in Minecraft with Year 4 – Lee Hewes explains how his students created virtual reality content within Minecraft.

Is Using Google Cardboard for the Classroom Anything More Than a Gimmick? – Rachel Jones provides a useful critique of Google Cardboard and questions what it has to offer.

Virtual Reality is not just another #EdTech toy – Richard Wells shares how VR is making a difference in his school.

How #VR Storytelling could help schools – Richard Wells provides a summary of activities and actions associated with VR.


YouTube Course – A unit exploring unit, exploring searching for suitable content, subscribing to channels, setting up a playlist and creating a channel.

Creator Academy – Learn tips from savvy creators as they showcase their secrets and level up your YouTube skills with Creator Academy lessons

Creating Video Content – A post unpacking some alternatives to creating video outside of YouTube.

Nat and Friends explains what happens to a video after you upload it and when you watch something.

197 Educational YouTube Channels You Should Know About – A collection of channels organised into subject areas.

Learning Walks

AITSL defines a learning walks as:

A group of teachers visiting multiple classrooms at their own school with the aim of fostering conversation about teaching and learning in order to develop a shared vision of high quality teaching that impacts on student learning>source

For Lyn Sharrett, learning walks offer a means of leaders collecting data that can then be used in conversation with teachers:

School leaders who do daily Learning Walks and Talks (Sharratt & Fullan, 2009, 2012; Sharratt & Harild, 2015, Sharratt & Planche, 2016 (In Press)) gather evidence of teachers’ intentional teaching and of students’ improvement when they ask students the five questions above. Students who can accurately describe their learning, and how to improve, close the achievement gap. After many walks, conversations with teachers ensue. Leaders ask authentic questions about why teachers make the decisions they make. Leaders also take action if teaching is not occurring at a competent or preferably high-impact level. Action must be taken if students are not progressing at an expected rate (Sharratt & Harild, 2015, Chapter 4). source

There are many models associated with the idea of learning walks. Jon Andrews talks about the learning walk being a way to connect with what is going on through the school:

for the first time in a while, I had the chance to walk a route through school with prospective parents, verbalise the life and culture of the school, celebrate the many valuable contributions people make, appreciate what we have, all because I was talking about places, spaces, resources etc. that we passed. I understand that the values and life of the school are encoded in the behaviour of people, built form, activities that occur and routines that play out. I genuinely had to enjoy the moment, but also pause to appreciate what was around me and acknowledge that I do not get out and about enough.source

Jason Borton shares how he implemented walkthroughts as a means of gathering collective data to then reflect upon as a staff:

Once the scoreboard was agreed upon we set about implementing a system of peer observation known as Educational Walkthroughs. The Walkthroughs are designed to gather information about the practices that are visible in classrooms and are described as our scoreboard statements. The analysis of the information collected is not intended to give individual feedback to teachers but to provide whole school information about strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of formative assessment strategies…
A high level of trust among staff is important to ensure the authenticity and success of the Walkthrough process. It is seen as a supportive way to ensure that we hold each other accountable for achieving our scoreboard. Having executive staff take classes and be observed means we are ‘walking the talk’ along with classroom teachers. This point is not to be underestimated as a critical aspect of our success.source

Amy Burvall uses learning walks to provide a remix to the traditional professional development session to start the year where teachers go walkabout and learn from each other:

What if we were able to visit other divisions and departments and do a little ethnography? What if teachers could give tours of their classrooms, sharing examples of student work, discussing the learning spaces and their pedagogy? What if we participated in some cool activity, just like we were students in their classes? What if the “host” teacher had some specific issues, problems, or questions they could crowdsource answers to? What if we were able to give formal feedback such as a Wow! How? Now… strategy? source

DET provides some aspects to consider when implementing learning walks:

Before undertaking a learning walk program, you should establish an agreed set of learning walk protocols and processes. You should consider three fundamental questions: Why are we doing this? Who will participate? What protocols will guide the program? A hastily introduced learning walk program has the potential to arouse frustration amongst staff. However, with careful planning and the input of all concerned, your learning walk can make a significant contribution to the professional knowledge and practices of your organisation and others.source

These considerations can be applied to any model.

eLearn Updates (August 2017)


Posts & Resources
















  • Exploring and Visualizing an Open Global Dataset – Reena Jana explains that by releasing the Quick Draw! dataset, and tools like Facets, Google hope to facilitate the exploration of more inclusive approaches to machine learning, and to turn those observations into opportunities for innovation.
  • Introducing Android 8.0 Oreo – An overview of the new Android operating system.
  • EDU in 90 – A new video series from Google for Education for educators, administrators, and school leaders on things like product updates, new programs, and helpful resources for the classroom.

Originally posted on the eLearn Update blog.