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How Big Data Can Help Schools Improve Performance

4 Aug 2014 by Lori Soard

In this new digital age, massive amounts of data is being generated, in every field, on a daily basis. This includes education. Schools use data warehousing to store information like test scores, grades, complete assignments and demographic data. Huffington Post tells us teachers in 35 states can now collect data on students online.

While some have expressed concerns about privacy issues, most realize that giving parents and educators instant access to student data is bound to help academic performance. Collecting and analyzing student data in an effort to improve student performance is not a new concept. But this information is often kept in separate systems and cross-analysis has historically been cumbersome.

Big Data Paints a Big Picture


Source: theasideblog.blogspot.com/

But now schools have the ability to tag this data, store it in new ways and grab information from across a wide range of areas to build a more complete scholastic picture that helps schools customize each student’s learning experience.

Big Data Warehousing allows teachers to run reports on individual students. Imagine this scenario:

Little Johnny may have a B average in English, but still struggles with reading comprehension. By looking at a cross-section of Johnny’s test scores and grades — and averages from similar students — his teacher realizes he needs work in comprehension and can get Johnny the extra help he needs before he starts to fall behind. Johnny takes some online tutoring during a study period each day to gain better comprehension of what he reads. And suddenly, Johnny is an A student in English.

This type of data analysis has many uses. Schools can also look at the big picture. If an entire class is struggling with a math concept, such as Order of Operations, then the teacher can take the time to work on that particular skill to ensure the entire class is up-to-speed.

Options for Adaptive Learning Infrastructures

If your school is looking into the possibilities integrated big data offers, you’ll want to examine some of the big data software make who create specifically for schools. Right now, the big players are:

  • Knewton – This platform focuses primarily on college-based education right now, but it can be adapted to a K-12 learning environment. The software is used by online education giants like Pearson and Macmillan.
  • InBloom – This software, still in development, is best-suited for K-12 institutions. It offers one-on-one consultation to help you get the infrastructure in place and begin to prepare for the day when your technology goes to that next step, such as every student having a mobile device in the classroom.
  • Junyo – This platform specializes in schools, teachers, students and parents, providing solutions to help everyone involved in the education process.

Schools with an advanced IT department can also utilize big data warehousing created for businesses and adapt reports to suit an education environment.

Key Benefits

In addition to drawing on data from a particular student’s academic records, these repositories also offer the ability to compare that data with national statistics on items like:

  • Typical Internet usage in an age group
  • Percentile averages on specific tests
  • Student performance in neighboring school districts or schools in-district

The Future of Big Data in Schools

If your school has not yet taken the leap to big data — or is still waiting on funding for more technology in the classroom — its benefits may not yet be on your radar. Imagine the typical classroom in your school in ten years, though: does every student have technology in hand as he/she learns? Are the teachers using technology more interactively via smart boards and better grading systems?

By putting that infrastructure in place today, you’ll have earlier, instant access to the amount of work students are completing, areas in which students are struggling, and the ability to take all of that information and combine it with what teachers see on their assessments.

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