Angel A. Juan

Shedding light on personal data, analytics and education

By Angel A. Juan, Associate Professor, UOC – IN3.

Welcome to this new blog on Analytics and its social impact on Business, Smart Cities, and, specially, Education. In particular, through the opening question of the blog we are interested in analyzing how Analytics and Big Data are transforming our society, from the way people move around modern cities to the way governments and enterprises use customers’ data — sometimes crossing ethical boundaries — to infer and influence their behavior.

In effect, organizations have now access to an enormous amount of personal data describing our habits, tastes, and social or professional links. The proper combination of these data with current computing power and analytic methods allow these organizations to extract and infer individual and collective behavior patterns.

It is even possible to generate pattern-based incentives that contribute to modify this behavior, so that customers tend to buy specific products, tend to vote to specific political leaders, or tend to change their living habits and preferences. Likewise, these data can also be used to provide real-time personalized services that can be useful for enhancing our daily lives — e.g., better weather or traffic forecasts, getting the right offer at the right time, shared transportation opportunities, etc.

« Education web-based platforms register students’ actions that can be analyzed to provide better support and guidance »

Also, due to its social impact in modern societies we are especially attracted to the application of Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining techniques to enhance modern online or blended learning processes, in particular those related to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, which might deserve special attention in view of their intrinsic difficulty for most students.

As many other activities in a modern society, education has also shifted towards the use of Internet and web-based platforms. These platforms register students’ actions that can be analyzed to identify learning difficulties and provide better support and guidance at the time it is needed, thus contributing to increase the quality of the educational service being provided.

All in all, this blog aims at being an open forum where different experts from around the globe can express their ideas and point of views on the previous topics, even if they are controversial or likely to differ from other opinions.

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About the Question
Are Big Data & Analytics shaping a smarter society?

Every day we generate a huge amount of big data, but we need to resort to analytics to make abstract information meaningful and get valuable knowledge from it. In education, learning platforms let us easily gather an immense quantity of data regarding students’ behaviour, interactions, preferences and opinions. When properly analysed — through learning analytics — all these data might provide useful insight on how to make learning processes more adaptive, attractive and efficient.

Are these techniques allowing us to provide better support to our students? Are we taking advantage of big data and analytics to help shape the citizens of the future?

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