The Internet population is growing very fast. Apparently, by 2017, the online community already reached 3.7 billion, and the numbers are still growing:
All these people produce tons and tons of data, passing over this information to other Internet users. Reportedly, we produce over 2.5 quintillion data on average every day.
The bigger half of this data belongs to the most active Internet users, among which are school and college students. Looking for, processing, and working with the information online, they leave digital breadcrumbs that become a part of big data, collected every day. This data, as a consequence, impacts education, changing it, and bringing both advantages and disadvantages.
However, before we get into the good and the bad, let’s clarify what big data is.
“Big data contains a great variety of information that arrives in increasing volumes and velocity.”
Thus, big data is more voluminous, than traditional data, and includes both processed and raw data.
Commonly, this data is too large and too complex to be processed by traditional software. Besides, such amounts of information bring many opportunities for analysis, allowing you to take a glance at a specific concept from many different perspectives.
It is traditionally considered (and suggested by Oracle in the article, mentioned above) that big data is described by three main concepts: volume, velocity, and variety. However, these three concepts do not adequately describe the phenomenon of big data without the fourth and fifth components, which are variability and veracity.
Here’s how all these components contribute to big data:
Now that we gave the big data an in-depth look let’s talk more about its impact on education and the benefits and harms that it brings along.
Big data has brought significant changes to many aspects of education. According to a study, published by the Publications Office of the European Union, the most significant change brought by the big data to education, is the ability to monitor educational systems.
Here are some examples of how it works:
Al these implementations are the benefits of the influence of big data on the education system. These systems generate tons of big data themselves, keeping all parties of the educational process regularly updated.
The feature of automation, brought by these big-data-based systems, has itself resulted in many other benefits, like:
The massive volumes of data bring much value for both educators and students.
Indeed, big data can bring solve many issues that educators struggled with a few decades ago. However, is it harmless? Not quite. Let’s take a look at the dark side of the big data and its possible negative impact on education to evaluate some of the biggest risks.
The biggest issue, however, is ethical, and it deals with the misuse of personal information. For instance, the error in using the SNAPP system, mentioned above, can result in the massive leakage of personal data.
Due to the lack of proper treatment and protection, personal information stored in data centers and used for analytical purposes in education still can be misused. With the risks of data theft increasing, this issue undoubtedly remains to be solved.
While having obvious benefits for the education system, big data still has many drawbacks, linked to the lack of technology to process it and put it to use. These disadvantages, though, bring a lot of data themselves that can be learned from.
The analysis of big data depends on many factors, like transparency, value to both the learner and the educator, expense, and openness. Taking these features into consideration, when working with big data in education will allow you to benefit from this data to the maximum extent.
As a verdict, the influence of big data and its use in education is still the subject of research. However, with further development, big data analysis can be effectively put to use and bring even more benefits for students and educators.