How Can Big Data Enhance Education?

Big Data is all around. Used in every type of industry to identify trends and possibility, data is also being used in education. Identified as one of the top trends in education, institutions are using them in all sorts of different ways. Think of it like the Google analytics for your classroom. Google analytics analyzes your website’s traffic and shows you what your best opportunities are for presenting certain ideas to certain audiences. Learning analytics can analyze your students and their work, and you can pinpoint some opportunity for personalization and optimization of your teaching and classroom. 

The handy infographic below takes a look at some ways that data mining and learning analytics can help enhance education. Keep reading to learn more.

How Can Data Mining & Analytics Enhance Education?

Data mining and learning analytics can help answer questions like:

  • What sequence of questions is most effective for a specific student?
  • Which student actions are associated with better grades?
  • Which actions indicate satisfaction and engagement?
  • Which features of an online learning environment lead to better learning?
  • When are students ready to move onto the next topic?
  • When is a student at risk for not completing a course?
  • What grade is a student likely to achieve without intervention?
  • Should a student be referred to a counselor?

There Are Cons, Though

  • Expensive
  • Time consuming
  • Choosing which data to mine can be difficult
  • Privacy concerns
  • Creating a simplified picture from data can be difficult
  • All data systems are not interoperable




  1. Pedro Saenz

    January 26, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Being a middle school teacher and trying to incorporate data driven decisions in my classroom, is an area that really interest me. What to do with the data after it’s collected and what’s the best next step. Is there software out there that does the analytics or any recommendations?

  2. Regina

    February 3, 2014 at 11:37 am

    The list you created in which Big Data can help teachers are things teachers have been doing on a micro-level (little data) all along. Is what you’re suggesting actually using tools that can provide analytics from the data teachers already gather? Or are you really talking about scores on standardized tests (pre-, diagnostic, and post-)? If so, standardized tests rarely give a teacher anything truly useful. Secondly, Big Data counts on students always following their patterns. This is not even true for adult consumers, which is why Amazon recommendation lists are constantly shifting. Using data as a prediction tool, instead of getting to know the individual student, is not about differentiating instruction, but standardizing it as much as possible. Big Data drives us to one thing, more use of standardized tests, and less individual, creative thinking.