We were hired by the Stupski Foundation, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, in 2007 to help them create a knowledge management and visualization system that could visualize the big data that a school district generates about its entire ecosystem over several years. This includes all the nuts and bolts of every school, student, bus, cafeteria, labor union action, public policy, curriculum development, student achievement, and so on.
Urban district reform has typically been hampered by the challenge of understanding the tremendous volume of data and the complexity of persistent district change. The CAIS Benchmarking Study was designed to improve this understanding through ethnographic research that maps the reform journey in three urban districts.
Over the course of 2 years, we worked closely with the Stupski Foundation to design, vet and iterate a large scale visualization system. It has highly inventive in 2007, as no one has ever been able to type into a system something like "show the impact of the labor strike of 2007 effect on the bus system..." The system would return not only a chronological view of events, but related strands that reverbrated out from that main strand to show contributary cause and effect.
From this tool, Districts were able to gain incredible insight as to where their systems were out of alignment and provided much faster district reform methodologies.