Use of Big Data in Higher Education

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Big Data in Higher Ed

Big Data is currently implemented in numerous services where human resources are involved. Its ability to read massive amounts of information has opened the path to find new patterns in customer behaviors and trends. But this method has also been implemented in an area not related to sales: higher education.

Using a method that allows reading of massive amounts of data, Big Data helps find new trends among students and teachers which weren’t possible to consider before, which, ever since its implementation inside higher education institutions, has helped develop new methods for education.

One of the main results of this methodology is adaptive learning, which revolves around the idea of a completely customized teaching method thanks to data gathered such as age, skills, and abilities of the target students.

This methodology, which is done through computers and other smart devices, enables a lower cost customized learning style which is focused on honoring the skills of every student by putting more effort in those subjects that require more time.

Thanks to data readings, the system can create a customized student profile which will be unique for each one of those in the course, along with making easier for the professor to impart classes and will help develop a better understanding of what is being taught.

But according to SRI Education, “the implementation of adaptive learning hasn’t shown changes in course completion rates, but it had a slight positive impact in grades”. Inside the same study, it was concluded that “the main objective of the system of having better students at a lower cost hasn’t been fulfilled,” meaning it still has room for improvement.

The main advantage of the use of Big Data in higher education doesn’t lie in the creation of new services, but in how to deliver a better and customized service and support that can increase retention and keep a better history of benefits students are using.

Thanks to the digital footprints left all over the campus, with records of purchases, special requests, and library borrowings, higher education institutions can get a better understanding of what is being used, how they are used, and what are the better customs that should be reinforced, all to be able to develop a better service on what is needed.

At the same time, if data reading concludes that there is a pattern of bad behavior in a student, which could end up meaning a desertion, a help and support plan can be deployed to help those at risk to improve retention rates and help the struggling student with what he or she needs.

According to a report, The University of Huddersfield, who already have an analytics reading system, have increased retention to well below 10% by delivering a customized service that helps students who are struggling and need help.

In the following years, Big Data analytics can help develop a customized service that can be implemented easily to all higher education institutions which can be developed to tailor better education for all students.

Risks of Big Data

Even considering all the benefits massive data analytics can provide, students privacy can become a risk factor when considering implementing this system. In education every number is a human being whose behavior us being recorded, which is mandatory to get useful data.

Recording and keeping students and teachers data, even if it is going to be used only in an educational context, without their consent not only implies an ethical dilemma but also could turn into a legal one and could mean having to offer a new contract with all parts involved if a system is implemented in the establishment increasing its costs

Uses of Big Data in education, is just starting, which means its full potential hasn’t been discovered. Along with technological advances and a better implementation of IT, there is still room for improvement in this area, with new methodologies to develop, increase retention and help students develop better.

How have you been using big data in your university?


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