Analytics & Metrics Galore Oh My!!

One Million Tweet Map

Lately, I have seen analytics & metrics showing up all over the place & I am sure you have seen them as well: on Twitter streams, WordPress blog sidebars, Tumblr footers.

I like to espouse using the right tool for the right job. If the tool is not right for the activity at hand, find the one that is and use it. I simply don not understand the latest trend in analytic use in social media – or at least a part of its use. Let me explain…

I don’t actually have an issue with analytics or metrics as they can be instrumental in helping a user in supplying their viewers or clients with the content they require. But there is some work involved. There’s a lot of data that is collected that needs to be carefully considered & analysed. Unfortunately, this is where the users usually stop thinking and over rely on the powerful metric software tool they have selected.

The Net is filled with sites & services that promise to serve up numbers and copious amounts of all kinds of data: total tweets, total unique visits, country of origin and much more. Some of the ones I’ve seen in use are (not the best – Google being the exception):

By their nature these services are rather hands off, giving users auto-posting and autoupdating options that take one out of the ‘thinking’ & analyzing equation. Three of the services post maplets showing where in the world people are posting from and one other posts stats about new #s of new followers, mentions and the like to a public timeline. Interesting some say – but completely pointless from an analytics standpoint.

Analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially >valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous >application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify >performance. Analytics often favours data visualization to communicate insight.
Firms may commonly apply analytics to data, to describe, predict, and improve >performance. Specifically, areas within analytics include predictive analytics,
decision management, web analytics, predictive science, etc…(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analytics)

Analytics or metrics are data collected to help inform decisions about what’s happening with sites, etc. that are under a user’s control. The key phrase here is ‘inform a user’s decisions’. Looking at the numbers or a pretty map without any analysis of what that data means is fruitless!

It might be like having someone else put a letter grade on your student’s assignments, handing them back to you and then having you continue teaching them. You have no idea where students went wrong on their assignments because you haven’t done any analysis of either the results or the trends or the particulars of the assignments. The number on the assignment itself isn’t all that useful. It doesn’t inform your instruction in the least and therefore the grade or number itself has no benefit to you at all without the analysis piece!

However, analytics tools can be potentially useful, even one of the ones listed above:

Maplet Example
Maplet Example

For example, if you must post a maplet, and the map indicates a dearth of activity in say Australia, what might you learn from this? I might have tweeted something like this: “This is interesting. I have good coverage in North America. I wonder how I could make better connections in Australia? Thoughts?” Not maybe the best tweet, but at least an attempt to use the tool as a conversation starter to broadened my reach. Perhaps a better use would be to not post the maplet at all and do this thinking, make my decisions and plan of attack offline.

What’s the difference you may be asking? I have a few reasons why posting analytics without thought is a practice that you may want to reconsider:

  • This is the same with ANY kind of analytics or metric. Without looking at the data and actually spending sometime THINKING about what they mean, they aren’t really interesting to anyone, they’re pointless and can only really serve one simple purpose especially if they raw numbers are just posted to a twitter stream or blog post: that of being potentially boastful.
  • Social Media Etiquette suggests that you shouldn’t humblebrag. In addition to your bio basics and account stats, most people will read your last two tweets when they are checking out your Twitter profile. One of the things that come up in research was hatred of the “humblebrag,” and self-aggrandizement in general. Posting material like the image below or maplets amount to nothing more than humblebrags in the absence of thinking and analysis.

    Humblebrag: Nothing Humble about it
    Humblebrag: Nothing Humble about it
  • Social Media Etiquette also suggests that you shouldn’t allow Robots to craft your tweets. If your recent tweets look like they were automatically generated, people may see you as disingenuous. Generally they are frowned upon. What people want on Twitter is to hear your genuine voice, in real time. They don’t want lofty quotes that you’ve scheduled to go live at strategic periods, stats from your latest workout or what your “top stories” are via a third-party curation service. Twitter is about engagement, not just broadcasting meaningless words.
  • In my opinion, here is the biggest issue with analytics and why they cause issues. Most people start with data instead of a question they are wanting to answer. The most common misunderstanding about analytics is that if you look at data hard enough, you will find insights. Staring at daily dashboards in the hope that insights will miraculously reveal themselves is often overwhelming, confusing and unsuccessful. Successful analytics start by identifying the question you’re trying to answer from the data.

I was scrounging the Net trying make sense of this and stumbled upon some resources that might assist in sorting through how to successfully get started using analytics with social media platforms, at least as a starting point:

To download the above PDF simply click the link below:
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TWITTER ANALYTICS

Hopefully, this post has helped to make clear the function of Metrics & Analytics and the useful but silent function they serve in assisting a user think about reaching clients and broadening their social media reach.

Illustrated Arduino! Easy One the Eyes 78 page Guide to Arduino

The Illustrated Arduino
The Illustrated Arduino

16Hertz Releases :“The Illustrated Arduino”, an open-source, hand-illustrated guide for learning the basics >of Arduino programming and electronics.

The guide is full colour and easily read! The illustrations are as detailed as they are lush. The comic book style is engaging for the targeted age group (6–14 year olds). This is an amazing resource not to be passed up especially at the PDFs price!

The .pdf publication is free for use, and the bound version is available on the company’s website 16Hertz Releases for $14.99 and the Ultimate Arduino Kit sells for $69.99.

You can view the full guide at http://bit.ly/1UlP8Y5.

Binary Bracelets

Photo by christiaan_008 - http://flic.kr/p/xoZ2Vf
Photo by christiaan_008 – http://flic.kr/p/xoZ2Vf

As I was browsing Twitter today, I stumbled upon a colleague’s @eppertdanielle post during this week’s ‘Hour of Code’ celebrations:

Binary Bracelets
Binary Bracelets
Binary Bracelets

Ss learned about binary and created bracelets using binary code #winnipegsd #WSDsteam #HourOfCode

I looked at this activity and I thought, how incredibly clever. It’s about binary code! It’s about 1 & 0, On and Off switches just like in the millions of transistors states within the chips of a computer! How awesome an idea is this, so foreign & yet still so connected!

Problem Solving in Binary; Planning the bracelets
Problem Solving

Binary Bracelets

First off, there is plenty of evidence of the Four C’s at work:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
4 Cs: Above & Beyond
Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking , Creativity

But there is also connection to math systems. Binary is base 2. Our current number system is base 10. There is an opportunity to compare and contrast the number systems or at least play the conversion game between the two. One could show students that place value is not limited to base ten, and that there is a difference between numbers and numerals!

Helping Eachother Decode Bracelets
Collaborative Skills
Collaborative Skills

Finally, this activity uses the concept of binary to illustrate how a computer encodes
data that will be stored and then decoded and retrieved for use later. It highlights the idea of opposites (i.e. up/down, on /off) that can substitute for the stereotypical ones and zeros.

While there are versions of this activity on the Net associated with CODE.org, Danielle has done a great job of implementing her wrinkle furthering her student’s understanding the underpinnings of coding!

Coding and Robotics

This is not a post that I wrote. But it’s an important one all the same. Chris Kennedy over at Culture of Yes composed this and I am quoting it here… The original article can be found here.

It is always interesting to visit schools and pick up on the trends. One can often see ideas that are spreading from one class or one school and quickly to all schools. One of the challenges in a district position is trying to capture the growing areas, and help support them to grow even further – looking at questions around how do we expand these great opportunities to not just some students in some schools but more students in more schools.

Much of the discussion in British Columbia is currently dominated by the refreshed curriculum. While there are conversations that start about the content – what is the stuff being covered in each subject and each grade, these conversations are often moving to the pedagogy and assessment needed as part of this process. And when we look deeper at the differences, I see the greatest shift over the last two years is likely in the work around Aboriginal education. As I have written here different times in different ways, we see Aboriginal understandings across grades and subjects.

I am always curious to see the words and ideas that are growing. It was from individual classrooms and schools that ideas around self-regulation, inquiry and digital access have exploded. I have also written before about the growth of outdoor learning among other trends that are taking hold. It is sometimes hard to track their growth – it comes from students, teachers, parents and the community and when they stick – they become the new normal.

The two ideas this fall that I would add to the list and I think are just beginning to blossom are coding and robotics. When I look at the growth plans of staff, or the inquiry questions of our Innovation teams, or listen to the interests of parents, these ideas are coming up more and more.

Coding is not new, and it is part of the ICT 9–12 curriculum. In part driven by the global Hour of Code initiative, there are efforts to expose all students to the possibilities around coding not just those who select it as a secondary school elective. More and more we are hearing from students, teachers and parents that we want to engage younger learners with these skills. Cari Wilson has done a wonderful job leading the Hour of Code initiative in our district – getting into elementary and secondary classrooms. Given the Star Wars theme this year I am sure students in classrooms and at kitchen tables across our community will be engaging with coding.

 

The Hour of Code Starwars Edition

It was interesting to read recently that there may be a “significant decline” in IT literacy in our tablet / smartphone era. Given the seemingly continued importance of these skills, projects like Hour of Code may be even more important. And we are trying to figure out how to move beyond this initial exposure and build in regular opportunities for young people with a passion for this type of learning in their elementary years to engage with activities as part of their school program.

Robotics has a somewhat similar story.

I had the chance to visit several schools in Delhi, India two years ago. And in one particular school, in a community of immense poverty, where the power went out three times while we visited, and nobody reacted as that was typical, where there were sparse resources, there were students building robots. It was stunning what I saw … .

 

Robotics Building Collaboration
Robotics Collaboration

 

Students were working together building robots. As the Principal reported, this is the future.

Fast forward ahead to this fall, and I am seeing the same curiosity and excitement around robotics in our schools. We have had a number of staff working with robotics over the last several years. It really has been a natural progression from makerspaces, digital access and trying to connect students in relevant ways to our world. This fall Todd Ablett, a past winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence joined our district and he has begun to infect (in a good way) our district with his passion for mechatronics and robotics. For now he is running a club at West Vancouver Secondary and doing guest lessons with every grade 6 and 7 classroom in the district. The plan is to continue to grow the program – hopefully into a secondary school Academy Program next fall, and a grade 6/7 program. As I watched student-built robots shoot balls across the Board Room at last week’s Board Meeting as everyone in the Gallery took out their phones to record the moment – one could feel the excitement.

Abblett
Abblett

 

The structures are a work in progress but we have an unwavering commitment to ensuring our schools are relevant and connected to the world our kids are participating in – the world that I heard Todd describe where self-driving cars are just the beginning of what the future may hold. I often wince when asked “what’s new” in our school district. The truth is most of what we are doing is about going deeper and getting better at what we already do. We are also trying to keep our eyes open and look around the corner at what is coming next. If you want to look for two things I think you will hear about and see far more in 2018 than you do in 2015 – I think coding and robotics are good bets.

Hour of Code Fast Approaching

Hour Of Code

The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. One-hour tutorials are available in over 40 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.

This is an amazingly inspiring event that has motivated thousand to try coding and programming on for size. There is a growing bed of research that has indicated that coding is anew and fast imaging literacy that will benefit student in many ways.

I would cite the growing number of sites devoted to teaching youth about coding as one indicator that is happening in earnest:

Hour Of Code

Why Not Join Winnipeg School Division in the Hour of Code? Contact Keith Strachan if you are interested in participating!

A blog dedicated to exploring, sometime seriously & sometimes with a healthy dollop of humour, the dynamic landscape of Innovation, Inquiry & Learning Technology.

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