The education sector has always been critical for both society and individuals. On the one hand, a prosperous economy needs a competent workforce with the skills to start and build businesses. On the other, individuals with career ambitions will always be looking to stay at the cutting edge of education and skill-acquisition.
Unfortunately, the education sector has also often been slow to adapt, leaving students stuck with information and certificates that are no longer relevant. That perception led to the rise of EdTech in its various forms, and it is currently driving the incorporatin of advanced data technologies to fine-tune the educational process. Here are some of the ways big data is changing education.
1. It’s personalizing the learning process.
Big data and personalization have always gone together. The ability to track myriad aspects of a subject’s activities makes it easy to draw inferences from their behavior. Those inferences are then used to create custom learning pathways for every student, allowing them to select the modules they want to take, how long they want to spend in each lecture and even when they are ready to take tests, along with a multitude of other options.
Personalized learning processes are much more effective than ones in which people are expected to learn at a preset pace. That effectiveness is further enhanced by the ability to easily stay in touch with teachers and fellow students via forums and even social media, depending on the platform. Unsurprisingly, being able to ask questions and get answers almost instantaneously helps students learn better.
2. It’s helping measure student performance.
In all educational programs, it’s essential to measure student performance. Even in ungraded courses, being able to monitor how well students are doing in various aspects will help improve the course over time. Traditionally, that has not been the easiest thing to do, especially with large classes. At best, the pass/fail rate only offers a small part of the story.
With internet-based learning, course designers can keep an eye on data points such as how long students take to answer each question in a test and how many times they return to view a particular text or video. Those data points give a more comprehensive picture and make it easy to tweak specific parts of the course accurately. For instance, if a large proportion of students had to go over a material multiple times, making it more explanatory would likely help future students understand it better.
According to Mingbo Gong, an advocate of EdTech and the co-founder of Torhea Education, “Education doesn’t change as rapidly as some other industries, but it is still critical to recognize trends in education and changes in students’s needs. We use machine learning to analyze how students’s interests evolve and to understand how scientific research in different fields develops. Going forward, data technologies will further add to the momentum of the revolution in education.”
3. It increases participation.
Generally, there has been a decline of interest in undertaking formal education, since surveys have shown that degrees simply aren’t the guarantees to a better future that they once were. With big data and the ability to customize the content and timelines of courses to suit one’s needs, more students are entering MOOCs and distance-learning courses.
This democratization of education is having immense impact across multiple sectors. First, individuals who would ordinarily not be able to attain education in specific fields can do so without the tremendous financial and time burden of traditional education. In addition, economies also benefit from the EdTech revolution since they are getting a highly educated workforce in essential sectors.
EdTech will be a major frontier of big data, machine learning and AI, both because of its human-facing nature and how crucial it is to society. As long as entrepreneurs in the sector can devise innovative solutions to the issues of scalability and data storage, privacy and information security, they’ll be in for an immensely impactful and profitable experience.