Do you remember seeing an advertisement about something you wished to have when scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and wondering “how do these people know that I wanted this?” or when watching a movie on Netflix and seeing the ‘recommended movies for you’ tab and thinking “how do they these are the type of movies and show I’d want to watch?” Well, if you have ever wondered about the science behind these functionalities, you already have heard about the answer at least once in your life or more. Big Data is the answer.
When we read the term ‘Big Data’ we imagine acres of data farms, but big data is beyond that. Big data is the high-volume and variety of data that is organized and analysed to make smart decisions and optimize offerings based on the insights derived. Big data integrates and uses analytics to build an ecosystem that highlights hidden patterns and drives inferences without overfitting the data.
Today there are zettabytes of data available in the world. A lot of it is also from the education sector. Since the volume of available data is so huge, how can it be used to make smarter decisions, and in what way to ensure there is more efficiency in the traditional processes? To know about that, big data is being used in the education sector. The use of big data in education can pave the way for countless opportunities and solutions to complex problems in the field. It is being used to improve the student experience and a progressive framework for teachers.
The performance of the educators and students both are recorded, data is collected and then analyzed to derive results. The system notes the performance of the students at every step and analytics produce results showing the patterns. This can be used to identify where the student is facing difficulty, particularly in which topics and what is the frequency of the problem arising, resulting in poor performance. These analytics can be used to draw a pattern and find the root cause of the problem to find the best solution. The same can be done for teachers. Real-time feedback smoothens out the edges of this process. Trial and error can be performed to check which methods derive the best performance results. Big data is not just about collecting a lot of data, but analyzing and using the results to put to better use.
The education and big data continuum may be different in nature, but together they can be used to produce hidden patterns. Student behavior is a very important facet of the entire learning system. Big data can be used to collect non-verbal behavioral characteristics like expressions, frustrations, engagement after sessions, postures, and gestures that are tracked by the algorithms to associate them with learning behavior. These results can help the education system to analyze the student behavior – verbal and non-verbal and correlate them with the learning modules, which can later be used to build interactive engaging modules that will show positive patterns in the student behavior, i.e., a better learning module overall.
Big Data has a feature of Data Visualization that can be used to track the interactivity of students with online portals and learning software to get a visualization of the courses or skill sets they are most interested in. It also records the activities of students in the classrooms to produce a visualization of the utilization of the classrooms. Since data visualizations are graphical representations, the data is not aggregated and directly processed for visualizations. This makes it easily recognizable. Visualizations are easy to comprehend, and student data and preference can be easily understood. This makes the process of customization and development to relatable courses simpler.
When all the above elements are clubbed together, better and improved results can be attained. Having a report of the lifetime of the data trail of students helps the educators to build the best possible learning ecosystem. Assessments and evaluations can be customized according to the level of difficulty a student can face. Constant monitoring of performances, behaviors, and preferences is quite useful in developing the environment for students where they will experience the enhanced outcomes and learning plans which suit their personalities.
The reports generated by big data analytics can help students and teachers do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for the students. Digging deep into these reports and analytics will help the students highlight their most effective skills. It will also help the teachers to identify the students who are facing problems and finding it difficult to connect to the subject matter. These insights can be used to select the best suitable course for the student that he will be interested in learning and will be able to use his skills to perform well in it. This will help in reducing the dropout rate of the students.
Having the right big data strategy in place in any educational institute which helps it achieve higher levels of success. There are data lakes available that can be processed and polished to be used as an asset for the institutions. Technology has made it possible to make data-driven decisions that are well calculated and lower in terms of risks. They perform better and are operationally more beneficial to their stakeholders i.e., the educators and the students.