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Big Data: A Key to Personalization

Big Data: A Key to Personalization

The topic of this report is one that holds much promise for the education industry and educators alike—the ability to use what is commonly referred to as “big data” to improve decision-making and ultimately deliver personalized instruction to students in order to improve outcomes. Big data has been used for years in other industries (e.g., health care, finance) and, while not a new concept in education, the learnings from those initiatives can pave the way for education companies to further leverage what has been proven to work. This report is intended to help readers understand the basic concepts, potential outcomes, and areas of concern (including data privacy), and to share examples of how big data improved operations and instruction in selected districts.

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As big data becomes an increasingly important element in the education landscape, there are a variety of issues that need to be thoughtfully considered and addressed. Big Data: A Key to Personalization  includes an overview about what big data is, how it differs from simply collecting large amounts of wide-ranging data, and how to define and collect the specific types of data called for by the questions one wants to answer. This report is a culmination of in-depth research consisting of interviews and personal communications with a number of industry and K-12 leaders in addition to detailed analysis of key reports about big data in education.

What Is Big Data?
Types of Data
Lessons Learned From Other Industries
Combining Data
More Data Is Not Necessarily Better
Collecting Data for the Specific Question
Combining Uncommon Things
Innovations in Education
Providing Educators Data
Supporting Student Learning
Beyond Student Learning
Personalized Learning
Data Sets
Disaggregation of Tools
Data Generated as the Student Learns
Social Media Data
Big Data Use
Change in Culture
New Products and Tools
Business Community
Appendix A: The V’s
Appendix B: Types of Data Often Used in Big Data Application

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