Is Big Data Going to Impact Your Education?

By admin

Big Data

Big data refers to the massive amounts of information (data) that compiles every second of every day in the digital age. The term originated in the late 1990s and, at the time, was virtually exclusive to scientific magazines and conferences. Today, big data offers more than scientific solutions and its applications extend far beyond the theoretical. Big data can be used as an important analytic tool in a variety of industries such as health care, manufacturing, government, and education, especially within e-Learning and online education where so much information is stored and communicated online.

How Can Big Data Impact Your Education?

Big data can impact your online education in three significant ways:

  • Customization of courses to fit learning needs
  • Faster, more comprehensive test results
  • Improved overall learning experience

Course Customization through Big Data

The Wall Street Journal reports that "using data to help tailor education to individuals will drive learning in the future," according to Steven Ross, a professor at the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University.

With big data, educators can analyze aggregate information for a large number of users and determine specific strategies that will improve learning effectiveness. For example, if it's found that several students "fast forward" through long videos and experience zero negative impact on their learning outcomes, then their instructor can consider a shorter video, customizing the course to better fit student learning patterns.

With effective analysis of big data, educators from all types of learning platforms will be able to customize their courses to fit the learning needs of their specific students. Big data can drive the creation and improvement of online courses that will better prepare students for advanced degree work and professional experiences.

Big Data to Enhance Test Result Speed

Big data has the potential to help educators quickly and accurately record and report test results. These ongoing technological advancements offer an opportunity for instructors to provide real-time responses and feedback for coursework and online testing. Staying on track with rapid test results and real-time feedback can improve your online learning experience and education significantly.

Improved Overall Learning Experience with Big Data

Because big data has the capability to effectively and easily track, record, and analyze students' educational activity online, it can become one of the most important tools in an educator's toolbox. Big data can track a student's daily journey within an individual course and pinpoint which areas need enhancement, adjustment, or even deletion based on actual results.

Big data can:

  • Analyze pages visited
  • Record how often the pages were visited
  • Record time of day logged in and logged out
  • Analyze time spent on each page
  • Record how often each page is revisited

The data collected can provide important insights on learning patterns and reveal actionable ways that educators and course designers can improve the overall learning experience.

Can big data impact your online education? There is no doubt that it can. Big data offers all online learners the potential for a more optimized, personal educational experience, whether they're taking a single course or pursuing a full advanced degree online.


Written by Ashford University staff


Press, G. (2013). A Very Short History of Big Data. Forbes. Retrieved from


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