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This thing is about digital tools that you can use to gain insight into students’ learning.

You can use digital tools to:

  • Analyse data (so you can act on what it shows you)
  • Encourage feedback
  • Invite students to reflect on their learning
  • Collect what students say about their learning and your teaching.

Analysing data

Analysing data related to students and their learning enables us to track progress, alerts us to possible concerns with student’s learning and enables us to make evidence-based decisions about what is effective learning for our students. Core Education identify data-driven organisations as one of their 10 trends for 2016.  This builds on Learning Analytics being one of the 10 Trends 2015.

In the video below, Mark Osborne from Core Education, gives us some insights into what learning analytics is about.

Effective feedback and reflections on learning

Effective feedback and reflections on learning, to promote student learning are recommended by researchers John Hattie, Helen Timperley and Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam.

Getting feedback from students, then changing or adapting the way we teach is a key to impact student learning.

Digital tools offer new and different ways of giving and receiving feedback, other than relying on written or verbal forms alone.

Data. Data. More data.

The growing use of digital tools to support learning, results in access to more data. Data can be gathered at various points of the learning process:

  • At the beginning to ascertain a starting point.
  • During the teaching and learning process to monitor the effect of specific actions.
  • At the end to measure impact, where students are at and to inform next steps for learning.

Analysing data

Many schools use Student Management Systems (SMS) for assessment and reporting information. Some analysis can be done within the SMS. You can export data in CSV format, then open it in Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, to analyse the data.

  • The best place to start is to become familiar with the basics – rows, columns, editing and formatting cells. Here’s how to get started with Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
  • You can sort or filter your data with Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. This is helpful to group students by level or find students who are are above or below an expectation.
  • To display data you can create a chart in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. This can show one child their progress over time or to show class data from beginning to end of the year. Info graphics are an effective way to display data. Want to make your own? Here are 10 free tools to make your Infographic.

Effective feedback and reflections on learning

One of the most effective tools for facilitating feedback is the comment feature in:

Google Forms allows you to easily collect data and information. You can quickly and simply create a form and analyse the data. Here’s some great ideas for using Google Forms for formative assessment from iAndover 1:1 Learning Initiative.

Similarly, Microsoft has Microsoft Forms which allows you to easily and quickly create custom surveys, quizzes, questionnaires and more.

Kahoot is a free game based formative assessment tool for the classroom. A Kahoot is a collection of questions on specific topics, created by teachers, students – just about anyone can create a Kahoot. The questions are asked in real-time, to an unlimited number of “players”, creating a social, fun and game-like learning environment.  You can create a quiz, a discussion (poll) or a survey. Sam Gibson tells us Why Kahoot is one of my favourite classroom tools.

With Poll Everywhere you can create a feedback poll or ask questions. You can see the results in real-time as the students respond.

Socrative lets you post a question or quiz for students to respond to. It has a popular feature called “Space Race” where students race against each other to respond to the quiz. 10 ways of using Socrative has been shared by Nick Acton.

try-this-iconTry this

Tell us your ‘favourite digital learning tool and why?’ on AnswerGarden here.

We encourage you to create a form using one of the free tools from this Thing and post a link in you blog to the survey, quiz or questionnaire you have created. (There are links to some tutorials in the Explore Further section below).

explore-further-iconExplore further

More about effective feedback and its purpose

Shirley Clarke shares some insights about effective feedback – peer and self.

A great video summary of John Hattie’s 9 Mindframes for Visible Leaning Educators by Cognition Education.

Bill Gates suggests that great teachers get better with smart feedback, and that without feedback and/or coaching, it is difficult for teachers to improve.

How to get started with forms, quizzes, surveys and questionnaires:

Instructions on how to make a form using Microsoft Forms is here or below:

How to make a form using Google Forms is here or below:


Instructions for how to set up and use Kahoot is below:

Setting up and using Socrative in the classroom:

You may also find, the free online course from udemy, called “Teacher’s Superpowers: How to Use Socrative In Class – The best guide on how to start using Socrative in your classroom” helpful.

NEWA share 33 tools for advancing formative assessment in the classroom.

81 Interesting Ways to use GoogleForms in the classroom has some great ideas which can be applied to other form creation tools such as Microsoft Forms, Kahoot or Socrative.

Other applications for surveys, polls, quizzes or ratings:

Mentimeter lets you engage and interact with your students in real-time. You set the questions and your students can give their answers via a digital device.

Quiz Socket lets you gather feedback from students as you can get a quiz up and running easily and quickly.

Lino is a virtual corkboard of sticky-notes so students can provide questions or comments on their learning. These can be used like exit tickets or during the course of a lesson. Padlet can be used in a similar way.

AnswerGarden is a word cloud where the answers to your question grows as students respond.

SurveyMonkey is a popular online tool that allows users to easily design surveys, collect responses, and analyze results. Basic membership is free. This helpful guide shows how to create a survey (text and video tutorial).

PowerBI from Microsoft is a newish program that is said to support education analytics or learning analytics. The posts from Ray Flemming outline Power BI in education – telling stories with data and Using Power BI for Education Analytics in schools, get you thinking about the possibilities of Power BI in schools. The free eBook, Getting started with Power BI, would certainly help you start using PowerBI. The video by Ray Fleeming, shares using PowerBI Q and A to turn data into information on Australian universities can be useful and valuable.


Parts of this Thing were adapted from 23research / CC By-NC-SA 3.0 and 23 Research Things @ Melbourne / CC By-NC-SA 3.0

Header image: Rob / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Icons: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon / GNU Lesser General Public License

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License.

23 teaching things is written by Lucie Lindsay and Bronwyn Edmunds at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work. #23Teaching

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