The Improvement Analytics group is housed within SRI Education and the Center for Technology and Learning (CTL). Following the completion of multiple studies on technology-supported instruction, we were struck by the learning and improvements that were taking place on a day-to-day basis. A group of us began examining research-practice partnership models that at the time were receiving increased attention and began organizing more and more project work as partnerships that specifically addressed the needs of practitioners. As we worked with many individuals across numerous educational organizations, a key pain point arose, namely, analyzing the volumes of data that are generated as part of day-to-day schooling, such as system log data collected by digital learning tools.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Education Sciences, Lucas Education Research, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and SRI International, we began working to better understand how data from myriad sources can be brought together to inform and improve learning environments. We launched the Improvement Analytics group in 2014, and since then, we have worked with multiple educational organizations to engage in what we refer to as collaborative data intensive research (CDIR).

CDIR is an approach that centers on following data product to the frontlines. In taking data products to the frontline, our focus is on developing data products and change ideas that support more equitable and effective learning environments. To bring about these changes, we (1) form partnerships that are built on trust and shared values, (2) draw on a common improvement method, (3) structure quality learning events, and (4) use data sharing infrastructure to jointly interpret data products in a secure and ethical manner. In line with these key drivers, CDIR projects are organized around five phases: (1) prepare, (2) understand, (3) explore, (4) co-develop, and (5) test. These phases were developed through an iterative, design-based approach that synthesized lessons learned within and between partnerships.

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