A relatively new specialist to join the IT staff is the data specialist. The need for this specialist arises from both the skills necessary to manage the databases in which demographic, health, behavioral, academic, and other information that is housed regarding students and the increasing demand for data-driven practices. Schools store vast amounts of data in sophisticated databases; while inputting the data is a minor aspect of the work and it requires limited expertise, the expertise necessary to prepare and run queries of the database so that questions regarding correlations and performance can be answered requires much greater expertise. Often this work includes creating scripts that produce reports that are used to support decisions made by school administrators and teachers.
These professionals represent one the first ventures into the field of educational data analytics by schools. In this field, educators seek to apply the methods of data science to predict student needs and performances. It should be noted that these methods have proven informative for some aspects of learning (Macfadyen, 2017), but findings suggest they are not useful in predicting deeper learning (Makani, Durier-Copp, Kiceniuk, & Blandford, 2016).
Macfadyen, L. P. (2017). Overcoming barriers to educational analytics: How systems thinking and pragmatism can help. Educational Technology, 57(1), 31-39.
Makani, J., Durier-Copp, M., Kiceniuk, D., & Blandford, A. (2016). Strengthening deeper learning through virtual teams in e-learning: A synthesis of determinants and best practices. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 31(2).