Big Data: A Key to Personalization

I recently wrote a report for EdNET Insight about the role big data plays in personalized learning. Here is the introduction:

Big data, open data and data in general are not new; however, these concepts have taken on new meaning for educators and only recently have become a significant part of the conversation in education. While data, data warehouse, longitudinal data systems and using data to inform instruction are commonplace in many districts, attention and dialogue on big data and learning analytics have been lacking. For many years, numerous other industries have used big data to drive overall business strategy and product development. President Obama ordered federal agencies to make data open and machine-readable nearly two years ago. When determining investments, Google Ventures stresses the science, not the art, of the deal. Their focus lies more on what the numbers say and not on the relationship, as was common in the start-up days of the 1990s. Only after the analysis occurs will money be made available.

The potential of use of big data and learning analytics to change education is huge. Capturing data form many sources, in many contexts and of many types, has the likelihood to help education stakeholders better differentiate and individualize instruction – providing greater capability for the personalization of learning in the classroom. The more granular and individualized the data collected, the more this becomes a possibility.

As Vineet Madan, former Vice President at McGraw-Hill Education, wrote in the Huffington Post, “By generating and enabling access to consistent streams of data form different parts of the classroom, we are no longer limited to simply knowing what stents know at a point in time – we can now get a sense of when and how they learned it and how likely they are to retain and be able to apply that knowledge.”

This report focuses on:

  • Big data definitions
  • Lessons learned from other industries
  • Innovations in education
  • Challenges
  • Needs
  • New products and tools
  • Implication for the district, classroom and business community

As big data becomes an increasingly important element in the education landscape, there are a variety of issues that need to be thoughtfully considered and addressed. Data privacy – especially as it relates to individual student data – has received considerable attention over the past year. Given this increased scrutiny, providers must play a pivotal role in ensuring that data will be used responsibly, which in turn will facilitate the implementation of big data practices to improve student learning. Regardless of the specific applications and services that are made available, providers play a critical role in making big data fruitful in education.

To learn more about the report and access to it, please go visit MDR's Reports.