What is Big Data?

Today, almost any interaction made over the internet or through the consumption of goods and services is being tracked, stored, and used in targeted ways. This has led to the notion of big data -- massive amounts of data that reflect the behavior and actions of various populations. Data scientists and data collection platforms are now able to computationally organize petabytes and exabytes of data so that it is easy to analyze and identify patterns that may have otherwise gone undetected. With the complexity surrounding such large, diverse sets of data, displaying the information is crucial to its success. Visual data analysis blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to illuminate patterns and structure even the most complex visual presentations. Information visualization uses infographics, the graphical representation of technical data designed to be quickly and easily understood. In education, data mining is already underway to target at-risk students, personalize learning, and create flexible pathways to success. As education institutions become more adept at working with and interpreting big data, they can make more informed decisions that reflect real learner needs.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • I, for my part, am a bit reserved considering big data, especially the kind of data that is collected in the internet or through mobile networks or when we buy things i.e. data that is collected without my knowledge. In Finland this kind of data collection is considering a threat to personal privacy and there are laws being passed to protect inviduals against this kind of profiling. In some ways, this comes very close to standardized tests, which can give a relatively accurate picture of population as a whole, but very seldom do justice to individuals. So, on the whole, in education, I'm for more individual learning paths and seeing the potential in deviations. - tiinsari tiinsari Nov 16, 2016
  • - martin.claesson martin.claesson Nov 17, 2016 There is big potential in Big data, as well as significant challanges. Personally I wouldn't use it for student measurements but for teaching and learning effectiveness and development.
  • Big Data and Learning Analytics can be very useful in school administration. Institutions collect immense amounts of data, but are they understanding how to use the data? Schools can optimize their capacity management and learn from their data. With an effective data analytics platform, schools can surface insights they did not know were there and pro-actively take action and drive better learning outcome. - Kirsten.Panton Kirsten.Panton Nov 17, 2016
    According to personalized learning teachers can evaluate student performance and tailor their approach according to specific student needs with real-time access to data. With predictive analytics, educators can identify at-risk students, uncover learning disabilities and take action that promote students achievement. - Kirsten.Panton Kirsten.Panton Nov 17, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • It is important to stress that we need a broad view on data. Quantitative as well as qualitative data can be used to ensure focus on individual scholars. - jakob.harder jakob.harder Nov 16, 2016
  • - martin.claesson martin.claesson Nov 17, 2016 Interpretating even simple data is always difficult and from my experience few people are giving it much thought, that goes for both teachers and school leaders. The conclusions are many times superficial, focusing on the wrong things, just weird, or non-existing. Acting upon these conclusions are even more rare. My take on this is that Big data has valuable potential but you need the skills to handle it, else it will only be confusing or draining for an organization.
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Many of the topics mentioned in this survey (here among Preservation and Conservation Technologies, Internet of Things, Adaptive Learning Technologies, Mobile learning) creates data. These data can be used to provide better education for the individual scholar everywhere in the school system. There is however legal and ethical considerations in the use of these data. - jakob.harder jakob.harder Nov 16, 2016 I completely agree with Jakob's last remark about ethical and legal considerations. - tiinsari tiinsari Nov 16, 2016 I completely agree with Jakob's last remark about ethical and legal considerations. - tiinsari tiinsari Nov 16, 2016 I agree too - but at the same time it is important to have a fairly pragmatic approach to these considerations in order to start benefitting from the advances - Kirsten.Panton Kirsten.Panton Nov 17, 2016
  • - martin.claesson martin.claesson Nov 17, 2016 Done correctly it could probably help develop teaching within an organization. Providing feedback and data on performance that could be used for analysis and change.
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • The Danish Ministry of Education has initiated a progression data project. The aim of the project is to create a tool to help the teachers help the individual scholar. - jakob.harder jakob.harder Nov 16, 2016
  • - martin.claesson martin.claesson Nov 17, 2016 No, but we were thinking about combining our formative teacher development Project Looper.se with data (Big or small) to provide a more complete Picture when scaled up. Having both a collaborative formative perspective and a datadriven summative could provide better understanding on how to further develop individual teaching to a certain group of students. http://looper.se/
  • A US example, but non the less showing HOW the use of big data and learning analytics taught a school WHAT to do to turn a school with huge problems into a success https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybY425KgbOg - Kirsten.Panton Kirsten.Panton Nov 17, 2016

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