How Teachers Use Big Data in Education

One of greatest advancements in modern education is the use of technology in daily classroom activities. The most exciting tools that schools can use, however, aren't the flashy tablets or computers that fit inside a folder, but the software and infrastructure on which those machines rely. If you are interested in entering a career in teaching or education, you might want to learn more about big data.

What is big data?
At its core, big data is the enormous amount of information that flows through a variety channels. These pathways are usually online, but can also be sent through a physical database. In industries outside of education, like business, technology and health care, big data is used to gather, store and distribute information. With today's advancements in speed and capacity, big data networks are also capable of interpreting and analyzing raw information.

The real power behind big data and the software programs that support it is its ability to take thousands of gigabytes of information from a wide variety of sources. Every second a network of programs can produce practical and relevant data. This can then be used to predict future scenarios and inform business strategies, health insurance plans, advertising campaigns and other data-centric processes. For example, a big data network can take information from thousands of people from their socio-economic background, ethnicity and genetic disposition to their learning speed. Combined with information on people's intelligence quotient, academic goals and physical skills, marketers and companies can create useful profiles for research.

How does big data work in the context of education?
The speed and power of big data can be applied to the education industry in a variety of ways. Teachers are now implementing big data networks to help create instructional tactics that best meet the needs of each student as well as the entire class. Educators will often test certain strategies and use big data software to identify what is working best for both themselves and their students. The information derived from complex algorithms can then be applied in an evidence-based approach to instruction, in which learning environments are constantly refined to be more effective and efficient.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a non-profit, accredited, online university. WGU's Teachers College offers multiple online degree programs for current teachers or those looking to become teachers. To find out more, please visit

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