Big Data in Education (Part 2 of 2)

Big Data in Education (Part 2 of 2) by James Locus.

From the post:

Big data analytics are coming to public education. In 2012, the US Department of Education (DOE) was part of a host of agencies to share a $200 million initiative to begin applying big data analytics to their respective functions. The DOE targeted its $25 million share of the budget toward efforts to understand how students learn at an individualized level. This segment reviews the efforts enumerated in the draft paper released by the DOE on their big data analytics.

The ultimate goal of incorporating big data analytics in education is to improve student outcomes – as determined common metrics like end-of-grade testing, attendance, and dropout rates. Currently, the education sector’s application of big data analytics is to create “learning analytic systems” – here defined as a connected framework of data mining, modeling, and use-case applications.

The hope of these systems is to offer educators better, more accurate information on answer the “how” question in student learning. Is a student performing poor because she is distracted by her environment? Does a failing mark on the end-of-year test mean that the student did not fully grasp the year’s material, or was she having a off day? Learning analytics can help provide information to help educators answer some of these tough, real world questions.

Not complete but a good start on the type of issues that data mining for education and educational measurement are going to have to answer.

As James points out, this has the potential to be a mega-market for big data analytics.

Traditional testing service heavyweights have been in the area for decades.

But one could argue they have documented the decline of education without having the ability to offer any solutions. (Ouch!)

Could be a telling argument as the only response thus far has been to require more annual testing and to punish schools for truthful results.

Contrast that solution with weekly tests in various subjects that is lite-weight and provides reactive feedback to the teacher. So the teacher can address any issues, call in additional resources, the parents, etc. Would be “big data” but also “useful big data.”

Assuming that schools and teachers are provided with the resources to teach “our most precious assets” rather than punished for our failure to support schools and teachers properly.

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