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How Big Data Has Reshaped Online Education

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Jakob, Online English teacher at Acadsoc.

Jakob, Online English teacher at Acadsoc.

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How Big Data Has Reshaped Online EducationAs the world innovates and grows further, it becomes more and more to understand its behaviour. There are so many factors to consider in the world’s growth. You have policies, different economies, and different cultural backgrounds. The challenge exists when you seek to break down each of those factors in an attempt to gauge characteristics, behaviours, and mentality. Different parts of the world have different ways of doing things – be it interaction, social cohesion, or even basic living standards. With that in mind, however, it becomes more and more important to scrutinize certain parts, like education. There is an undocumented consensus that exists, whereby it is vital for the world to have a single standard of education. Although this would be such a wonderful achievement for all nations, sadly, however, certain parts of the world lack the access to essential resources that can make the single-standard theory, a reality. Not all hope is lost, however. There is a phenomenon that exists. Its sole purpose is to analyze, document and provide expectations and solutions to social behaviours. Big Data is set to play a vital role in changing the way we look at things, especially in vital sectors of life, such as education.

Education’s importance in the world cannot be discounted. It may even be much more vital in nations most affected by poverty or imbalances in the socio-economic structures. In order to achieve this, there needs to be a direct link between the strategy put forth and the behaviour or expectations students in that particular region of interest. Big Data can be of great assistance – providing solutions that not only look impressive on paper but for practical in their implementation at ground level. We will take a look at all that there is to know about this big phenomenon, set to change our classrooms forever.

As a concept, Big Data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It is what organizations do with the data that matters. Big Data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.[1]

Current considerations of this phenomenon include key areas of focus such as:

  1. Volume: Organizations are always collecting information, currently, there is such a rapid collection of data on a day-to-day basis that had this been done thirty years ago, its storage would have been an issue. However, in this day and age, we have clouds that make t efficient for us to store as much information as we deem it necessary.
  2. Velocity/Speed: The streaming of data currently is very rapid (that may be an understatement) and there has been a development of what is called “Real Time Data”, which focuses on providing streams at close to real-time speeds.
  3. Fragmentation: Imagine storing and collecting information in the past. Much of that may have been achieved through the collection of a census – a million people, a million papers, minimum. These days, however, information is collected through videos, segmentation data that includes graphs and charts, documentation and statistics. This variety increases the accuracies within the information presented. In all aspects of the word, Big Data holds the potential to be flexible, adjusting itself to the loads of data that are set-off by events that are either very complex in nature or caused by expected and unexpected events at any particular moment. As data is collected bit by bit through each interaction, purchase, feedback or response, Big Data offers the organization with the flexibility of customized interaction with each customer.
  4. Complexity: As data is collected from multiple sources, there exists a need to handle and differentiate accordingly. There are levels to the storing and sorting of data, and through cloud computing, this can be achieved with such ease.

It still remains a topic of note that when we study such a concept, that we do not focus on how much data is being collected, but rather how that data is analyzed and used to further the prospects of each organization with challenges that are uniquely theirs.

Big Data in educationBig Data in education is crucial, it has endless possibilities. But, as cannot be overstated, it is what organizations do with it that matters. In the classroom, each learner is unique, having a different background, but having the same goal as everyone else – passing. Not learning, but passing. That is the main problem and the main reality of so many schools across the world. School is not seen as a place to better oneself, but a place that one has to go to and go through. The existence of Big Data helps organizations to have a better understanding of this and how it affects the whole system. Topics or relevance such as preferences, disposable time, response to written or animated work, concentration levels based on topics and other relevant topics help organizations choose the best method of learning for each group on a customized level. It’s very difficult to have a single set of learning/teaching methods when the classroom is filled with students of different acumen, capabilities, and abilities. Utilizing Big Data assists education in the following way:

Analyzation and Segmenting of Student Results is much more accurate as they are sorted and analyzed based on the students’ capabilities and unique methods of learning which range from touch, sight, hearing, or a combination of all. This is the first point of reference when wanting to analyze whether the methods are working or not. Doing this assists the organization in the process of building customized programs for the students.

Mass-Customized Programs and Evaluation – through the analyzation of students and what they respond to the most and the best, organizations are assisted in the creation of programs that provide the same learning outcomes but through different inputs that are unique to the learner. An example would be two students who respond to music and sight respectively. One may rehearse and recite songs to understand, the other may need to see pictures and colour in order to understand. They both learn the same thing, but they learn it differently.

Real-Time Learning Improvement – as soon as the programs are customized based on the information, learning improves rapidly as students are more eager to learn as they feel motivated and capable. There is a psychological aspect to customized programs – as soon as a student believes that they can do something, they then become more and more motivated to explore and learn.

Increased Overall Results – this is a culmination of the above factors. When students are sorted and their results analyzed initially, organizations are able to develop customized programs and gauge real-time improvements. When all that is done, the end result is a group of students whose results are accurate and showing a vast improvement all because of the belief in themselves. [2]

As valuable as Big Data can be, it also presents serious challenges. First is the logistical issue. Organizations hoping to use it will need to modify their entire approach as data flowing into the organization becomes constant rather than periodic. This mandates major strategic changes for many businesses. Next, real-time data demands the ability to conduct sophisticated analyses; organizations who fail to do this correctly open themselves up to implementing entirely incorrect strategies organization-wide.[3]

However, not all hope is lost. The introduction of artificial intelligence may very well be the saviour of such mistakes occurring. A.I is set to ‘replace’ the need for human input in certain spheres, such as information management. Having a reliable source of data-sorting and segmentation may prove to be beneficial for organizations in the long-run as it may completely eliminate the element of human error.

As the world progresses, we may see an increase in companies like Acadsoc who seek to use distance learning via an online platform, at both the teachers’ and students’ convenience. Acadsoc uses a strategy and model that we may see so many schools around the world adopting as a result of customized learning programs, as a result of analyzing Big Data.

[1] https://www.sas.com/en_za/insights/big-data/what-is-big-data.html

[2] https://datafloq.com/read/big-data-will-revolutionize-learning/206

[3] https://www.ciklum.com/blog/pros-and-cons-of-big-data/

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