Could Big Data be education's next great resource?

Big Data Education

New tools for collecting and analyzing information could take education to higher levels.

Photo: Bigstock.

Big Data is a controversial topic these days, it has been the center of privacy scandals, and debates about their potential uses, along with their benefits and dangers. But do we understand what Big Data is and how can we use it to raise the quality of education?

Contrary to what we may believe, Big Data is not just an enormous chunk of data, is the process in which this data is collected and analyzed, what happens after this has been a matter of debate for quite a while now.

The majority of the collected information about the users on the net comes from our searches and our interactions in social media. This data is on the servers of companies like Google and Facebook. One of the most relevant conversations on the subject is about the need to share this information for scientific and sociological purposes, so the data can be used to solve specific human problems and benefit directly the people who are providing the data in the first place.

But social media and searches are not the only source of information with potential for human benefit. The recent integration of technological platforms and specialized software opens the possibility of, through elements such as the registration of tasks, behavior patterns, test results and more, establishing databases with useful information to improve the educational experience on various fronts such as:

1. Better content selection and reading comprehension

Custom learning software enables students to learn at their own pace and allows teachers to record their interests and patterns that reveal their weak points in class.

Data from the students' choices and behavior when they interact with a program, can be used to empower a better discussion in class. It can also help develop strategies to support students as they overcome their difficulties with a specific subject.

The algorithm of a good learning program can even record how students read, how much time they take reading and what parts of the content they need to check more than once, all that information has the potential to enhance the learning experience.

2. Efficient decisions from teachers and directors

Soon, when schools have the means to storage, order and analyze significant volumes of information, they will have a vantage point to develop learning techniques specific to their needs. Teachers, directors, educators, and everyone involved in educational plans will be empowered to create better strategies.

This will also open the opportunity for more jobs, and specialists will be needed to sort this data get the insights for a better understanding of what works and what not in education.

3. Career counseling and prediction

Big Data can also enable the mapping of more explicit paths to encourage students in their strongest area of knowledge, this along with the support of a counselor, could dramatically reduce desertion and career transfers for students during their college years.

This career map can follow students after their graduation and keep recording information that might help them to make smart and strategic work choices; it can also make them more visible to companies seeking candidates with their profile.

Big Data will play a key role in innovative education shortly. The technology resources and the conversations about the legal, ethical and philosophical implications are about to reach the point in which they can have a direct influence in education strategies. Until then, it would be wise to be on the loop about the development of this tech resource.