educationtechnologyinsights

The Strategic Link Between Data and Design

By Bucky J. Dodd, Ph.D, Chief Learning Innovation Office, University of Central Oklahoma

Bucky J. Dodd, Ph.D, Chief Learning Innovation Office, University of Central Oklahoma

Data without design is like an idea without action.

Data analytics are infused into almost every aspect of our lives. We use information from ordinary tasks such as surfing the internet, buying products, watching television, cooking, driving to work, and fitness routines to improve our experiences. However, many education and training environments have yet to effectively leverage data to accelerate innovation and empower learning.

This article explores the strategic link between data and design in learning environments. Many organizations have advanced data access and analysis; but without strong design practices, they will likely fail to realize their potential for learning transformation.

"If think about what metrics exist to measure innovation within education and training environments, there are very few. To overcome this barrier, we need to apply systems thinking to the design of learning environments"

Data Analytics and the Design of Learning Environments

Data analytics is a popular topic in education and training. Many leaders are aware of the need to better leverage data; however, the maturity of this function varies within organizations. In education and training contexts, organizations have invested in certain analytics capabilities such as enrollment management, resource allocation, and financial planning. An innovative data analytics strategy would extend these efforts to include learning and human performance implications.

Even the most well-planned and resourced analytics strategy will have challenges when it comes to the innovation of learning. Predictive analytics anticipate what will happen in the future based on what has occurred in the past; but without design, data analytics is academic (no pun intended). The role of design is to incorporate the desired future state into a strategy.

If we believe education and learning is about transformation, then we must also incorporate this future “transformed” state into our strategy. Strong design processes envision what the future learning environment could be. Data and design connect to create a catalyst for innovation. 

Learning Environment Innovation Powered by Data and Design

What does linking data and design do for the innovation of learning environments?

 Innovative leaders are always looking for ways to unlock creativity and accelerate transformation. But with any change there is an element of risk.

Great innovators are masters at managing risk. They realize nine out of ten ideas may fail; therefore, they must be ready with enough capacity to grow and scale the idea that succeeds. Linking sound data insights with progressive design allows innovative leaders to anticipate and manage risks and accelerate new ideas.

Current tools and practices are woefully ineffective at supporting innovation within the context of learning. In fact, if think about what metrics exist to measure innovation within education and training environments, there are very few. To overcome this barrier, we need to apply systems thinking to the design of learning environments.

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