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How Big Data Improves the Learning & Teaching System

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Information Technology

From the I to T in Education

From transferring information to extending knowledge, Data has become an important tool by which society would advance, as stated by Kenneth Cukier in a recent TedTalk.  Appearing 20 years ago, the notion of big data has changed the way we live, work, and think. Indeed, from retail to healthcare, all sectors are concerned with big data and education is no exception. Generally defined as the collection and treatment of massive data, big data has changed the effectiveness of information use moving from static to dynamic and fluid generating liquidity of information, says Cukier.

The sector of education is particularly concerned due to a large amount of data required and collected from students. If big data is seen as a revolution in the educational approach with a real added value for the students as well as for the other shareholders in the sector (school districts, school administrators, University leaders etc). For others, an abusive use big data can be counterproductive to the original purpose and therefore places a limit on the use of data users', their privacy, and security.

Undoubtedly, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has exposed the abusive use of data users'w on the Facebook platform. This crisis brought to light the controversy about data privacy and security shared without measuring the potential risks.  In terms of education, it reveals the issue of youth users of social media as part of learning with “digital” tool. But goes further on the question of growing risks of cyber attacks in diverse educational online systems.

However, the digitization of education generates a very large volume of data related to learning and teaching. From one hand, it helps students optimizing their learning and assists the teachers in improving their teaching methods. On the other hand, big datagive decision makers the evidence to design policies that better support their districts and schools.  Integrating big data is different from one participant actor to another but all share one goal: Ability to deliver a customized learning depending on the student’s individual needs.


How does Big Data benefit the Education Sector? and How it can improve the learning process?

It is a fact that education system reaches its limit with the “traditional” model. But, integrating technology into the classroom enlarge the learning space. Indeed, in the developing countries, the student can learn outside school walls with digital tools and can benefit from a customized learning path. The standardized instruction does not benefit students with difficulties. And in order to have an optimal experience, learning analytics help the educators to determine the weaknesses and strengths of each individual student based on his progress and online results. Moreover, answers to questions can be checked instantly and automatically give instant feedback to students. Thank’s for data analytics, feedback is not a “critical” component anymore!

Otherwise, It is important to underline that while school dropouts are becoming significant, it also cost a lot for educational institutes as well as for society. Including big data effectively in the learning/teaching process will highly reduce this phenomenon. Not only creating a personalized learning path for every student but also monitoring the student progress is highly valuable and reinforce the engagement of the student thus, avoid failures and reducing dropout rates. Last but not least, “predictions can be used to change a program if it predicts bad results on a program or even runs scenario analysis on a program before it is started”.  More data doesn’t just let us see more information of the same thing we are looking at, more data allows us to see new, better, it allows us to see different.

If Amazon recommends us products based on our interest or Netflix suggested to its users' movies, tailored education is important for student progress and success. Big Data in education can benefit this latter if all stakeholders use data in the right way. In other words, it means taking into account data privacy and data security of the learner. It is important to note that “not all educational technology is safe”. For instance, using the social network for an educational purpose is one of the hottest issues questioned. Referring to the Facebook crisis, because “data allows us to see new, allows us to see better, allows us to see different”  As  Cuckier stated in one of the TedX conferences.

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