How Big Data Is Changing Education

October 5, 2016
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The use of big data is radically transforming most industries. One area though where you may not expect it to be having such a big impact is education. In fact, in recent years educational facilities, from primary and secondary schools through to universities and online providers, have been able to accumulate, use and exchange information more easily and quickly than ever before.

This is, as a result, having quite an impact on numerous parts of the education industry, and for everyone from teachers and students to those who are trained in educational leadership and administration. If you’re keen to learn more about how the education arena is being changed by big data, read on.

New Job Opportunities

The rise in the use of technology for education is creating new job opportunities in the industry. In particular, there is now a burgeoning need for more data analysts who can take the influx of information about students and their results and backgrounds, and interpret and utilize the findings. After all, there isn’t much point collecting a whole much of information if no one actually sits down and studies it.

Analysts are required to sort and link the disparate data sets so that decision makers can work out how best to use the information and put new strategies in place for the future. In addition, there is a need for more trainers who can come in and show teachers, professors, principals, deans and other educators how to use data in classrooms and institutions more effectively.

Planning and Strategy

A major benefit of big data is that, once the information has been analyzed, the findings can be used to change how educational organizations approach day-to-day decision making and short and long-term planning. For example, there is much scope for data to be used by schools and universities to compare the results of their students and current levels of drop-outs with other institutions, as well as to learn from the teaching methods used around the world.

Furthermore, data can be used to find alternative ways of conveying course details (seen already through the growth of online courses); as well as potential new markets to target in order to increase student enrollment, donations, and government funding. By analyzing large reams of information, educators can also pinpoint potential problem areas and work at rectifying them sooner rather than later.

Increased Engagement

When it comes to primary and secondary schooling, in particular, it is very important for parents to be involved in their children’s education so that they can help students to be engaged in and devoted to their studies.

One way that big data can help with this issue is by making it easier for teachers to pinpoint where a child is excelling or struggling, and then to communicate this information to parents. At parent/teacher nights, for example, educators can use specific data to give parents a clearer view of where their child is at with each subject, and what might be done to help the child either keep up the good work or improve their studies.

Teaching Methods

With the continued rise of big data, we are also seeing teaching methods evolve quite substantially. Technology makes it much easier to provide personalized instruction for students according to their needs, rather than always just delivering one lesson in a single way and expecting every student in a class to understand the information and take it in.

With customized teaching, it is possible for different learning methods to be taken advantage of, and for teachers to tailor activities to individual learners. For example, students can now use computer games and various adaptive learning programs to increase their knowledge and skills.

Such activities are not only interactive but can also be programmed to take a student’s particular skill level and learning type into account. Many digital courses actually use predictive analytics (by way of big data) to pinpoint exactly what information students are mastering or finding challenging and to then modify lessons to best suit them.

Sharing Information

The rise of big data has meant that schools and universities and other institutions can now share information more quickly and easily than ever before. In the past, if students changed between facilities, particularly if they moved interstate or to another country, it was often very challenging and time-consuming for the teachers at the new facility to get access to their educational history and other information. Now, though, things have changed and data can be sent from one place to another very quickly. This makes things easier for both students and faculties.