Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Big Data on Campus
This article discusses the use of data analytics across universities and colleges in order student rates of success both in and out of the class room. Due to the fact many believe this is a self-inflicted wound, strong federal and state pressures have been placed on these schools to improve their lacking graduation and retention rates. Analytics tools and softwares have been developed by over dozens of schools to help students make decisions, based on collected data, that will positively affect their in-school experience and performances.
After reading this article, I found this implementation of data collection and analysis to be extremely useful for both schools and students, but I also believe there are various obstacles. There is proof these algorithms have improved students' performances, as they have deduced several conclusions and correlations, such as when a student takes a class with friends or makes friends in their class they tend to do better. The proof and explanation of the data conclusions to the students is what will encourage them to use the tools and apply themselves further. I think if most of the data is reported to the students in a visual manner, which is how Purdue University's Forecast software presents their results, the students could be really engaged. Judging from experience, I know many students tend to blow off notifications or emails that come from their school, so I think one of the most difficult aspects of this idea will be increasing student engagement. Hopefully, these softwares will motivate the students to put forth more effort into their education and involvement in school. If schools could perfect this system it would ultimately save them and the student money because more students would not only stay in school, but would also graduate on time.
The amount of data the schools need to collect to continuously use and improve these softwares is immense. The use of Big Data always correlates with ethical difficulties due to the security vulnerabilities and privacy concerns. I believe if schools begin depending on these algorithms, they could run into many expensive problems. The schools would need to either hire people to be able to protect the data, or have a security system that is extremely protective because if parents are unsure of a system like this it could draw them away from the school. Additionally, what will happen with the data following graduation and are parents to trust that the school is definitely using the data to better their child's experience? These systems would definitely need to come with guidelines that specify how the data collected is used, secured and handled post graduation. The article says "that 30 percent of higher education institutions worldwide will have adopted analytics strategies by 2018, " and I believe this will greatly improve education throughout the world, I just think it will take a could years of perfecting the systems and schools will have to be smart about advertising this to parents.
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