Education Reform: Massive Data Hitting & Changing Young People’s Life

The world is getting to be very complex, because with digitalization of information, vast amout of information becomes available. This information, is transforms into a host of product and services, often targeted to young people. Young people for themselves also contribute massively to the availability of information, such as their interaction with social media.

Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include capture, storage, analysis, data curation, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy.

So how should educator prepare students for a world full of “Big Data?” Some universities, such as University of Pennsylvania, even offer classes on how teachers can use Big Data in education (source).

The Edvocate reports (source) with the head-line: “Why You Need Both Data and Common Sense for School Reform.”

By Matthew Lynch

The first step to positive K-12 reform within a school and a district is to find a starting point. Often, data sets are used to determine this – but really, so much more should go into it.

Districts that demonstrate continuous positive results often base their decisions on data alone, as opposed to relying on observations and data together. Schools should regularly evaluate the pros and cons of instructional programs and realize that standardized tests should constitute only a piece of the assessment puzzle rather than the entirety. Continuously monitoring the progress the school’s student body makes will allow the task force to amend the reform plan as needed.

Balancing Reform

Successful schools also take measures to institute checks and balances, to ensure the decision-making process is distributed among a variety of reform participants. Superintendents are charged with the duty of ensuring that the implementation and sustaining of improvement efforts are done in a positive manner and meet the needs of the students. The team leader’s job is to ensure teachers have all of the tools needed to foster the academic performance of students.

Accountability, Too

Districts all over the country recognize accountability as the key to the school’s improvement process. Everyone is expected to perform at optimal levels, or must face the consequences. To ensure that staff and faculty members are able to perform at optimal levels, the school district must provide them with high-quality professional development.

Modify, Modify, Modify

In order to complete the process of school reform, restructuring efforts must be monitored and evaluated. The process of evaluation can be completed in-house, or the leader can hire outside consultants to perform the task. If the task force is willing to evaluate the success of the school’s reform, they must first develop a plan for evaluation.

The team’s evaluation plan should have been developed before the reform was implemented. Performance goals that were created at the beginning of the restructuring process should be used to guide the evaluation process.  The team will need to decide who will collect, analyze, and interpret the data. In order to avoid biased results, it may be in the best interest of the school to hire an outside consultant who may provide a more objective assessment of the reform efforts. The team will also use the results to determine whether or not the reform efforts were effective.

The results may indicate that the reform was not a success. In this case, the best solution is to build upon the small successes and learn from mistakes. Another reform could then be implemented or the unsuccessful reform amended to better suit the needs of the school. School restructuring is a long-term process. Reform occurs on a continuous cycle that must be sustained in order for improvements to be maintained and furthered. Keep in mind that not every restructuring effort bears fruit. Even the best schools have to continue to work in the restructuring process.

Successfully implementing and sustaining school reform is possible. It may not be easy, but with a tremendous effort, the utilization of all resources, and the expertise of professionals, school reform can be successful. The level of success the school is able to achieve will be based on the school’s predicament. Whatever the obstacles, the leaders’ decisions need to be resolute to foster academic achievement. While data is certainly a starting point, there is a lot more that goes into the bigger picture of smart school reform – and districts should recognize that and work towards solutions that not only make sense on paper, but also in real life.

What is “Big Data” in detail?

Big data is a term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing application software is inadequate to deal with them. Challenges include capture, storage, analysis, data curation, search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy. The term “big data” often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics, user behavior analytics, or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set. “There is little doubt that the quantities of data now available are indeed large, but that’s not the most relevant characteristic of this new data ecosystem.”[2] Analysis of data sets can find new correlations to “spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on.”[3] Scientists, business executives, practitioners of medicine, advertising and governments alike regularly meet difficulties with large data-sets in areas including Internet search, finance, urban informatics, and business informatics. Scientists encounter limitations in e-Science work, including meteorology, genomics,[4] connectomics, complex physics simulations, biology and environmental research.[5]

Data sets grow rapidly – in part because they are increasingly gathered by cheap and numerous information-sensing mobile devices, aerial (remote sensing), software logs, cameras, microphones, radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers and wireless sensor networks.[6][7] The world’s technological per-capita capacity to store information has roughly doubled every 40 months since the 1980s;[8] as of 2012, every day 2.5 exabytes (2.5×1018) of data are generated.[9] One question for large enterprises is determining who should own big-data initiatives that affect the entire organization.[10]

Relational database management systems and desktop statistics- and visualization-packages often have difficulty handling big data. The work may require “massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers”.[11] What counts as “big data” varies depending on the capabilities of the users and their tools, and expanding capabilities make big data a moving target. “For some organizations, facing hundreds of gigabytes of data for the first time may trigger a need to reconsider data management options. For others, it may take tens or hundreds of terabytes before data size becomes a significant consideration.”[12]

The following are some articles on Big Data and education:

Big Data and Education | edX

Learn the methods and strategies for using large-scale educational data to improve education and make discoveries about learning.

Four Ways Big Data Will Revolutionize Education – Datafloq

With the rise of more and more online education and the development of MOOC’s all the data gets a completely new meaning. Big data allow for very exciting …

Big Data and Education – Columbia University

Big Data and Education. A Massive Online Open Textbook (MOOT) 2nd Edition by Ryan Baker in cooperation between Teachers College, Columbia University …

The Future of Big Data and Analytics in K-12 Education – Education …

Jan 11, 2016 – Tech startup AltSchool wants to push the boundaries of classroom data collection and personalized learning. But are schools ready for the big …

Big Data Analysis in Higher Education: Promises and Pitfalls ……/big-data-analysis-in-higher-education-promises-and-pitfalls

Aug 22, 2016 – Whereas big data is beginning to be utilized for decision making in higher education as well, practical applications in higher education …

Introduction to Big Data in Education and Its Contribution to the Quality ……/big-data…/introduction-to-big-data-in-education-and-its-…

by C Vaitsis – ‎2016 – ‎Related articles

Jul 20, 2016 – In this chapter, we introduce the readers to the field of big educational data and how big educational data can be analysed to provide insights …

How does big data impact education? | OECD Insights Blog

Nov 7, 2016 – Marc Fuster Rabella , OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. Today’s post is also being published by OECD Better Life …

‘Big data’ was supposed to fix education. It didn’t. It’s time for ‘small ……/big-data-was-supposed-to-fix-education-it-didnt-its-…

May 9, 2016 – ‘It is becoming evident that big data alone won’t be able to fix education systems. Decision-makers need to gain a better understanding of what …

Learning World: How Big Data is Transforming Education | www.wise …

Part 1: Big Data in Education: The next revolution? UK.

Asking the right questions of big data in education | Pursuit by The ……/asking-the-right-questions-of-big-data-in-education

Feb 27, 2017 – The big data revolution has delivered universities deep goldmines of information on how their students are tracking, with every click they make …




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