With the expansion of online learning, such as distant learning, and the growing number of devices such as tablets being used in classrooms, gathering data is easier than ever.
Learning how to use that data can make for a more personalized and fulfilling learning experience for students.
What are some of the ways in which big data can be applied in the education world? And how can educational establishments make the most of the data that’s available to them?
More data is available than ever
Time was that educators had to wait for test papers and essays to see how students were doing, and all those records were filed away in offices and cabinets, making it hard to go through them and see patterns.
Nowadays as more students are using tablets and smartphones in the classroom, and to discuss the class outside of it, teachers can access the data that is generated along the way and use it to make for a more useful learning experience.
Personalizing the lesson to the student
Harvesting and analyzing the available data means schools and colleges can get a clear overview of how each student is doing, both in real time and over a specified time period.
This can be used to spot strong points to encourage, weak points that need support, and to analyze how and when each student learns best.
In a classroom environment, this could be used to watch interactive quizzes and assignments in real time, and re-evaluate delivery along the way in response to how students are getting along.
Over a longer period, teachers can use the overview provided by big data to tailor teaching to each student, and to start discussions with students on what they need.
Big data for continuing professional development
Big data also has useful applications when it comes to helping teachers perform at their best.
Big data is a useful tool for professional development, giving teachers a high level overview of their successes and challenges, helping them to isolate strengths, weaknesses and patterns so they can focus on areas that need improvement.
For example, if a teacher is getting a higher percentage of passes in smaller classes, they can then work with their school to work out what they need to do differently to deliver materials effectively in a larger class.
How schools and colleges can make the most of big data
As “Stay Focused on the Big Data Bottom Line” points out, big data is only effective when users stay focused on what big data can do to help them, and the steps they need to take to achieve the results they want.
For schools, that means asking the right questions – ascertaining what exactly they hope to learn from big data, so they can tailor their data collection and analysis to best meet those aims.
Once the data is collected, it’s vital that solutions are offered based on it.
For example, if a school is focusing on student performance in a particular type of test, they need to decide on their course of action once the data has been analyzed.
Knowing what they want to gain and what steps they need to take based on the data they collect is key for schools who want to make effective use of big data to support students and teachers alike.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, big data, education and SEO.