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Big data and analytics in higher education: So near, yet…

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By Susan Grajek, Vice President for data, research and analytics, EDUCAUSE.

Big data and analytics are reshaping everything. Industry is using them to great effect, to better understand markets and customers, manage supply chains, and increase profits. Personalized medicine, fueled by analytics applied to big data, is poised to revolutionize healthcare. Higher education lags several paces behind these fields. Some institutions are demonstrating improvements in retention and degree completion, but most are still using data to monitor student outcomes and activities rather than predict or proactively intervene.

Certainly, trends related to analytics and data are influencing institutional IT strategy, more so than other types of trends EDUCAUSE tracks, including those related to teaching and learning and security and risk1. Data-driven decision-making, enterprise data management, and data integration issues are all already incorporated into or exerting a major influence on emerging IT strategy in at least half of US colleges and universities. Personalized learning, however, is only this influential at one in five institutions.

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More data to better serve our students

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By Darcy Hardy, Associate Vice-President for Enterprise Consulting, BlackBoard.

A specialist in education technology and e-learning, Darcy Hardy believes that the more data we have the better we can serve our students, but she also alerts that the information derived from that data has to be defined properly and acted upon by the correspondent administration. Check her thoughts on the blog’s main question in the short video below, where she also reflects on how analytics can be useful and about concerns linked to privacy issues. Her contribution was possible thanks to the kind collaboration of the EDEN Conference held in Barcelona.

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Analytics by and for students

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By Maarten de Laat, professor, Open University of the Netherlands.

Professor of professional development in social networks, De Laat interests in big data and analytics rely on the idea that they can make more visible and transparent what people are talking about in educational environments, making easier for other students to engage in a group with shared interests. He is also a strong defender of releasing the information obtained through analytics to students, instead of keeping it within a teaching/administrative level, so that they can use it to facilitate their own learning processes. Get De Laat’s complete reflections in the short video below. We would like to thank the EDEN Conference organisation for this contribution.

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For personalized education big data is a must

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By Nuria Oliver, scientific director at Telefónica R&D.

According to computer scientist Nuria Oliver, there are three main key elements regarding big data in education, being the first one the so promised personalization, so that teachers could get precise information of how students are doing and thus adapt their methodology to specific needs. Secondly, large scale data could also be extremely useful for official statistics: e.g., how a city, a specific region or even a whole country is doing in terms of education. And, finally, we also need to make sure students’ data is securely stored and kept under high privacy standards. We would like to thank the TEDxBarcelona Education event for this contribution.

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Towards a gender neutral curriculum

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By Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder and head of Stemettes.

Big data and analytics are here to stay, and they certainly can allow us to make smarter decisions, but what could they imply regarding STEM education? As founder of Stemettes, an organisation promoting women into science and tech fields, Imafidon sees those areas as an opportunity to advance into a more inclusive curriculum, making STEM fields more attractive to everyone. Don’t miss her reflections on the topic in the short video below. Imafidon’s contribution was possible thanks to the kind collaboration of the TEDxBarcelona Education event.

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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?

Big Data and Simheuristics
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