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How big data is revolutionizing education

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

By Amol Gawande, Assistant Director, Admissions and Placements (Dr. D.Y. Patil B School)

The focus of education today is not just learning, but holistic development of the child. Big data offers unprecedented opportunities to the education sector. Today, the student has access to far fetched data and resources which was impossible a couple of decades back.

Let’s understand big data
Big data is basically culmination of large amounts of data -- both structured and unstructured. This helps a business on a day to day basis. It's not the bulk of data which is important but how well the data can be analyzed for insights. These insights help people make better decision making and strategic planning. A report suggests that big data market is expected to reach US$67 billion by 2021. Hence, big data is counted as a disruptive technology but for all the positive reasons.

Why is big data important?
It is not just the data that is important, one has to know how to read that data to gain insights. Big data can help reduce costs, determine root cause for failure, calculate risks and optimize offerings. Big data is important in the education sector as it opens an arena of opportunities for both the educationists and the students. Educators can use this data along with analytics tool in order to build that ultimate personalization for each student.  This personalization assists each student to develop according to their style of learning and understanding.

Big data in the education sector
Adoption of artificial intelligence: It is a known phenomenon that studying from textbooks everyday becomes a monotonous activity. Students prefer studying in their comfort zone. Today artificial intelligence can be used to write textbooks. With the help of a professor who can provide his inputs in the syllabus, the computer system can collect the proper information from various resources to create custom based textbook.

Improve student results: With the help of big data, a student’s performance can be evaluated. For example, how much time does he take in answering each question, which questions does he skip, which questions does he answer well to, which sources does he study from. These data provide a unique data trail. Studying and analyzing this data in real time will help the faculty provide better feedback to the students, and help them provide an optimal learning environment for each student.

Create mass customized programs: Big data allows customizing programs in higher education with the help of blended learning -- a combination of online and offline learning. There are specialized algorithms which track and access each student’s performance and interests. Through this, the student can study at his pace and develop his personalized program.

Reduce dropouts: Educational institutes can use predictive analytics to collect information on the future expectations of number of students. Each year the students show a particular pattern during admissions. If this pattern is studied, then colleges can work in reducing dropouts as well as improving their course pedagogy to fit in with the current student batch.

Targeted recruiting: Educational institutes can accurately predict applicants performance in companies and also help analyze their application process. There are various factors associated with this recruitment process. The studying of this data will help college better their recruitment strategies and help them allocate funds accordingly.

Use of big data in sports: In this highly competitive world, where coaches aim for their students to reach Olympics, big data comes to the rescue. Instead of relying on intuition, coaches today are collecting insights by tracking the student performance in a sport. For example, this data can show the speed of a person in a given time and his strengths and weaknesses in each sport. Coaches can then focus on the players strength and help improve his weaker points. This data can also show the fatigue or hydration level of each player.

Today with the use of artificial intelligence and big data, the focus of learning has become more efficient. The future generation of students are expected to benefit from this technology in the coming years.

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