By Pratima Sheorey
Big Data has become an integral part of almost every sector, and therefore the education sector can also no longer afford to remain insulated from the technology connect. A lot of education hubs have started using newer technological tools to improve pedagogy. Today, an Indian student has access to data and resources available anywhere in the world, which was impossible a couple of decades ago.
Big Data is essentially large sets of data that need to be studied in order to find insights that help a business grow. It helps to uncover hidden patterns and correlate insights, thereby enabling managers take better business decisions. In the education sector, too, Big Data and machine learning together are creating a stir. While machine learning and its application has been around since the 1970s, it has gathered momentum thanks to artificial intelligence and Big Data Analytics. Given the pace with which things are changing, it is certain that Big Data will bring a revolutionary change in the education sector. Machine learning is basically data-mining, which helps teachers accumulate all the information at one place. It helps teachers improve their teaching methodology by focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of each student.
Apart from benefiting students, it helps teachers in various ways. Some of its visible advantages are:
Assists teachers: Managing a class of 80-plus students can be difficult, considering that each student is different and so is her intelligence quotient as well as learning style. Machine learning can serve as a great aggregator for learning by helping the teacher shed some of the administrative weight. Teachers get more freedom to devise courses and provide customised learning experience for students as per their learning capabilities.
Predict performance of students: With the help of machine learning and Big Data, it is possible to analyse the performance of students in not just academics, but also in sports. The speed of an individual and her competitor can be marked, and thus the strengths and weaknesses can be worked on. Also, indicators like time taken to answer, sources referred to, types of questions skipped can be ascertained and analysed. This, in turn, makes the assessment more personalised and holistic. It allows teachers to measure, monitor and respond in real-time to a student’s understanding of anything.
Tests students: The age-old method of ‘one size fits all’ is no longer pertinent. Today, artificial intelligence can help provide feedback to teachers, parents and students regularly—clearly charting out the weak links, interests and areas of concern as far as the student is concerned. This helps both the student and the teacher to understand the sort of development and progress they have made towards their goal. This, in turn, can help create a corrective action plan based on real-time data.
Provide customised learning: Big Data makes it possible to provide a customised learning experience to each student. Teachers can use the data to see the learning and the behavioural patterns of each student. Using these inputs, a customised learning experience can be created. In addition, classrooms can have groups based on the assessment the teacher receives through artificial intelligence. At the end of the day, this can ensure a better learning experience as well as minimise dropouts and disengagement amongst students.
Helps in recruitment: Big Data can help colleges analyse the potential employability of a particular student in a particular job vertical. This, in turn, can help them direct their as well as the student’s attention towards preparing for a job in that particular vertical. This can save a lot of time and energy for potential recruiters, and can aid colleges in successfully placing a majority of their students, thereby boosting their placement figures. For companies, it can ensure a better person-job fit and lesser turnover.
The transition from traditional learning to learning aided by Big Data is happening at a rapid pace. It is the need of the hour and warrants a speedy acclimatisation for all concerned. Towards that, active collaboration between academic institutions, government bodies and the private sector should be encouraged in order to stay ahead of the curve.
The author is director, Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune. Views are personal