The Rise of Big Data In Education Space

By Dr. Carl R. Powell, CIO, Eastern Michigan University

Dr. Carl R. Powell, CIO, Eastern Michigan University

Technology Trends That Have Significant Impact On Education Sector
The biggest one right now is Mobility and BYOD (Bring-Your- Own-Device), or BYOE (Bring-Your-Own-Everything). Higher education is different than most businesses because everybody brings their own mobile devices to work during the day, but our customers don’t leave. We have more of “stay here and live here” concept versus other businesses that have more sporadic view of consumers have in flow. Therefore, we not only address the educational needs of our students but also their residential and social needs, which is why we started looking into improving the wireless and cellular coverage on campus. Electrical power is also a factor, making sure that there are enough public power outlets for students to recharge their devices. As a whole, we want to shift from the traditional office-bound student services and concentrate more on self-service applications for what students really want.

The Area Of Infrastructure Investment
The challenges in infrastructure are no longer an either-or situation. So, it is not wired or wireless, it’s wired and wireless and cellular. Traditionally, wireless access was limited to common areas, but now wireless coverage is needed in each and every corner of the campus so that when students, faculty and staff walk around, they always have access to a connection.
Communication infrastructure has to be a part of continuous funding, and support. It’s not a “fund it and forget it” type of investment. Most organizations face a similar challenge with their technology infrastructure, but we have to address the educational, residential, and social needs of our onsite consumers 24/7.

The Role of Big Data In Education
Education has always had the capacity to generate a huge amount of data, more than any other industry perhaps. The challenge working with Big Data is to make sure that we shift from focusing just on faculty research and give more importance to students’ experience. We are using Big Data to engage and offer students a better experience. The Big Data approach can analyze underlying patterns in order to predict student’s outcomes. Big Data, through predictive analytics, allows us to become more adept at solving problems with student recruitment, and retention, looking to the types of services students may be using, and adjusting our curricular programs and hiring process. Looking at Big Data part, the main point of it is, pushing it to the user’s fingertips so that we start looking and forecasting ahead versus recording what we have already done.

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