Big data analytics is a fast-growing field and has a bright future according to experts. It is being embraced by more and more industries, more investments are flowing, and demand for experts is growing exponentially. The number of people obtaining data analytics certification too is rising every day.
Education sector to has started to slowly embrace big data analytics for the development of learning and academic activities through the analysis of learner behaviour, activities and processes, as well as analysis of organizational and curricular processes, workflows and resources. Let us have a look at the needs, opportunities and challenges if big data analytics in the education sector.
Needs and Opportunities:
Improving students’ learning outcomes and helping them achieve their academic goals has become possible through big data analytics. Student performance assessment need not be limited to traditional tests, exams, etc. Each student’s unique data trail can be tracked and instantly analyzed to understand their strengths and weaknesses, answering time for different types of questions and subject areas, questions they skip, their unique academic skills, etc. Teachers and mentors can leverage this information to provide instead feedback, extra support and tutelage to students who require it, and overall create an enabling environment for students to flourish. The dropout rate can be reduced in the process.
Improving curriculum, teaching methods and processes has been made possible through analytics. Teachers, mentors and curriculum creators can identify what works and what does not in terms of curriculum, course content, structure, methods and processes, and change it accordingly. The teaching methods that best suit different sets of learners can also be identified.
Customization of the program for each student is possible through big analytics. Students can receive resources and training based on their level of learning and needs. Even with several thousand learners, it is possible to provide customization through the blended mode which is used by MOOCs today, where online learning is self-paced and offline/online guidance from teachers is also available.
Learning effectiveness can be bettered through both administrative/ teacher level interventions and self-measurement by learners with the help of big data analytics.
Cost reduction is possible through improved effectiveness and efficiency of programs, removing classrooms from physical confines, better time management, reducing attrition, etc.
Cross Collaboration and Comparison among different institutions and courses within an institution can be done with ease with the help of big data analytics.
Ensuring data flow is absolutely essential for big data analytics. Poor internet connectivity and poorly integrated data systems make it difficult to access data and ensure data flow. It will be counterproductive if poor quality and incorrectly formatted data are used for educational analytics.
Educating and training educators is another major and time-consuming challenge for the application of big data to the education sector. Even to get all teachers and mentors to cooperate and show eagerness is itself a big milestone.
With such big advantages and opportunities to using big data analytics, more institutions and organizations are striving to steer ahead of challenges, and embracing it for achieving better outcomes.