Today’s information influx—led by an increasingly mobile, BYOD consumer base—generates an enormous amount of data for enterprise to sift through, consolidate, and eventually utilize.
This “big data” movement comes with unique challenges and a windfall of opportunity for those industries that seek to capitalize on its acquisition.
Higher education, in particular, is one such industry that can benefit from the fresh insights and analytical implications powered by big data.
What Is Big Data and Where Does it Come From?
Forbes defines big data as “a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.”
The following list includes some big data harvesting hotspots for institutes of higher education:
• Social media
• Student surveys
• Software-based exercises and testing
• Classroom exercises and testing
• Online applications
• Online student benchmarking
• Professor performance ratings
• Curriculum performance ratings
That’s a mouthful, but in short, any data an entity generates, collects or stores becomes a part of big data.
Data is collected from a variety of sources, some of which are industry-dependent.
Big Data as a Tool for Higher Education
By analyzing data from the sources above, higher education can glean bits of information that can be used for predictive and learning analytics.
In other words, IT professionals and educators alike no longer have information that is purely past tense.
Now, as digital platforms and software collect and deliver useful information in real-time, educators have opportunities to intervene if students seem to require additional assistance.
Some companies, such Civitas Learning, offer software and apps that tell instructors:
• How often a student participates in online discussion forums.
• How engaged a student is with course material online.
• The academic background of a student.
In addition to allowing instructors to intervene if students are struggling (based on the big data collected), institutions as a whole can reevaluate policies and procedures to make them more efficient.