Google's next big thing in education might not be Google Wave or Google Apps for education, but a new data-analysis tool they've been working on, Google Fusion Tables. Google's long been known for making the hard to do simple, and Fusion Tables is no different. It makes looking at data simple - if you've ever struggled with a pivot table in excel, you'll appreciate immediately what it does.
Fusion Tables takes a standard data table either imported from excel, or shared from Google Apps and allows you to visualize the data without any technical complexity. So, imagine you're a middle school looking to improve your students in ELA. You've bought into the data movement, you get that there will always be standardized tests and measures, but that periodic assessments are also important. You even have your teachers on board, have setup data teams to meet and look at the data and have worked hard to standardize your rubrics. But you don't have any money for a fancy system, the ones your district provide you only work with the standardized data, and everything else is either paper-based or on individual spreadsheets / gradebooks. So how will Google help? First, setup Google Apps for education, it's free, and allows your teachers to collaborate on documents / spreadsheets. Next, create a wiki-spreadsheet for your school that has a column for the student, grade, teacher, class, and then any and every evaluative point throughout the year. That's it - no formulas or charts. All your teachers easily enter in the data, letting Google handle the work flow. Then, whenever you, or your teachers, or your data teams want, you fire up Fusion Tables and visualize the data. Want to look at the 8th grade? Or maybe the lowest performing students in the 8th grade? Or maybe the lowest performing students in writing conversions in the 8th grade? Or, maybe it's a specific teacher or student's trending that your curious about. It's all right there within a couple of clicks.
See for yourself:
Make sure to checkout the visualize menu. I suggest line charts for this data.
If you're interested in learning more about Google Apps and Fusion Tables, get in touch with us, we're helping schools get setup.