One of the significant trends of the last few years has been in what’s called "big data", and our increasing ability to manipulate, access, and use the huge amounts of digital data that now exist.
IBM reports that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. The way this data is accessed and used is a hot topic at the moment. We’re talking about:
So, where information, in the past, was confined to print and oral communications, it’s now accessible in a range of new ways. And engagement with data is now increasingly an active rather than a passive experience.
One of the drivers in this trend is the need to make our interaction with the massive amounts of data accessible, and our growing expectation that we can all use this data to aid analysis and make useful predictions.
Data visualization makes data engagement much easier. You’ll be familiar with the use of infographics and new forms of graphical data representation. With the creative ways that huge amounts of data can be represented and easily manipulated means there are opportunities for improved understanding and interpretation. This clearly benefits students as well as teachers.
We read that big data has the potential to revolutionise the way students learn, and teachers teach. One impact is in the future of search, and the semantic web. Google is the best example of this:
Of course, the benefits of all of this is related to the way we access and use this data. In education, ‘big data’ is being used for learning analytics and research.
With the growth of massive open online courses, tertiary institutions have an entirely new range of data at their disposal, which could provide even greater insights. One of the ways educators might use this is in analysing the performance and skill-level of individual students, and then creating personalised learning experiences that meet their needs.
So, lecturers could monitor a whole range of different factors regarding student performance—including the amount of time needed to answer questions, which sources they use, which questions they skipped, how much research was done, which tips work best for which student, and so on.
And big data can also help to create more effective groups of students. Often students work in groups where the members are not complimentary. But with algorithms and data it will be possible to determine the strengths and weaknesses of individual students based on the way they learned, how, and which questions they answered, their social profile, and so on. This will create stronger groups and deliver better group results.
On a personal level:
So, along with the steady increase in the data that’s going to be available to us, there’ll also be a steady increase in the opportunities and advantages for learning that the new forms of data engagement and data manipulation will provide for teachers and students.
CORE staff are using Bundlr to collate links to articles and information relating to virtual learning in a Bundlr collection. There is the option for you to choose to follow the growing collection over the next few months.