2015 saw the grand entrance of Big Data into the world of education. Big Data opened the possibility of extracting information from literally every source that produced data. Coupled with predictive analytics, Big Data anticipates to contribute to education by finding solutions to deal efficiently with bottleneck subjects, create means to advise students and colleagues accurately about their career inclinations and for forming a customized student-specific learning package by witnessing methods (quizzes, flash cards and others) that consistently influence students.
Even though the IT fortune tellers have given a green flag to Big Data, it is still in the gestational period. Big questions face Big Data in the field of education: How can Big Data help universities to cater adequately to a diverse population? What kind of security and privacy rules would we need to protect students from identity/data theft? While 2015 was packed with unbridled excitement about Big Data’s introduction to education, 2016 is expected to see a disciplined commitment to making Big Data a long-time partner for education. Here are four prophecies on Big Data’s role in education:
Big Data will begin to have a meaning of its own within the field of education. Risks that inflicted rates of higher education would be tackled using Big Data interventions. Big Data is here to stay, is evident by developments like inclusion of Big-Data positions like ‘Predictive Analyst’ within staffing and a rise in innovation-based job titles.
The impact of Big Data is not confined only to the IT department but penetrates the essential processes of higher education. Issues like economic affordability, dropout rates, retention and broadcast of content through new means (like Online Open Courses) have taken the front seat in the Big Data mission.
With live information on the quality and impact of education policies pooling in, policymakers will be faced with the power to make information-loaded decisions. Such decisions will pertain to varying dimensions of higher education including finance, enrollment, choice of college, and career inclination of students. Big Data will allow policymakers to form a holistic system of policies that would sync objectives of the educational institutions with available resources to produce intended results. Showing faith in the power of Big Data, US Department of Education (DOE) contributed a share in $200 million initiative for application of Big Data analytics to “scientific discovery, environmental and biomedical research, education and national security”.
Students across the world will have access to educational courses’ broadcast of leading universities. Gradually, student data will also shift to cloud services, to allow unfussy sharing and coordination of admission and transfers. As more and more information enters the cloud, we will be faced with need to set up walls that determine what kind of information and how much of it can be accessible to different segments of the audience. That Big Data has actually entered as a companion for higher education would be evident with the rise of data controls, security measures and safety nets. This would permit a healthy environment for exchange and use of information in the long-run.
Since Big Data has no boundaries on sourcing of information (the main goal being the academic health of the student), institutions would have to let go off their physically determined borders and move into the cloud age of collaboration. They will have to come together to cater to needs of different types of students, recognizing the educational resources available collectively.
Challenges to Big Data
While Big Data will make way for educational revolution, it would have to discover fail-proof answers for many challenges. Starting with criteria for determining who can have access to learners’ data, we will have to find a way to expand Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) throughout the world via shared cloud resources. While security remains the prime concern, it is undeniable that access to education is still a looming threat. How will we ensure that education reaches the lower-economic classes? How will we analyze the copious amount of data and make it relevant for our specific purposes?
Big Data is here to stay and gradually, almost every institution that desires to stage in the platform of education would have to take notice and upgrade their powers for utilizing it.