Data smart schools: enhancing the use of digital data in secondary schools

The challenge

Masses of digital data are generated within schools every day, but despite its potential, this data remains poorly used and understood. The main promises of data-driven education (real-time feedback, individualised nudges, self-regulated learning) remain ‘incompatible’ with the entrenched bureaucratic and professional logics of mass schooling. At the moment we have ‘schoolified’ data rather than ‘datafied’ schools.

Project overview

‘Data Smart Schools’ is a three-year research project funded by the Australian Research Council. This project aims to investigate the use of digital data in schools and identify ways to improve its capture and use.

Using in-depth case studies and participatory design research, this project intends to work with school communities to develop a deep understanding of the (re)use of digital data. This understanding will assist in the development of innovative tools and techniques to make more effective use of the data.


The project outcomes are expected to include insights into the technical, informatic, organisational and social issues surrounding the (re)use of digital data in schools–then develop models of digital data ‘best practice’.

This research intends to contribute to policy and industry debates over data access and privacy; as well as systems interoperability. It will also contribute to realising the potential of ‘big data’ and ‘open data’ in the public sector, and the emerging academic fields of critical data and learning analytics studies.

The impact of this research is expected to be improved student outcomes, stronger teacher and parent engagement and better use of technical infrastructure investment.

Research findings

The main findings from student and teacher interviews:


Project team


26 February 2019 – 25 February 2022


Australian Research Council Discovery Projects funded research project


More information


data smart, digital data, secondary schools