Big Data’s revolutionary potential

It is processed by a predictive analytics marker, which makes a numbers-based forecast. In marketing, these forecasts can tell companies what consumers are buying and how to capitalize on it; in social media, they can illustrate popular news and communication trends; and they can also play a role in education.

First, the numbers are important: what kinds of data are collected, and from where. Information on millions of students nationwide, such as names, grades, test scores, and more can be used to improve teaching strategy and student engagement. For example, this eSchool News article from October 2013 details the advances made in New York to use collected student data.

ConnectEDU, a privately held technology company with a focus on student preparation, received an innovation grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for $500,000, which is meant to fund the creation of “a web-based teaching and learning platform that tracks student progress against literacy skills outlined in the Common Core.”

This tool will help teachers to better engage students with more personalized instruction and resources, based on a recommendations engine that follows student achievement data and compares it to curriculum criteria.

ConnectEDU is also one of the three companies involved in creating New York’s customized Education Data Portal. As directed by the state’s Education Department, the company is building this portal with the goal of putting it in the hands of educators, parents, and students to help them “track progress and deliver personalized learning resources for the Common Core Standards.”

The project in New York is not the first time that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported the use of big data. When eSchool News ranked Big Data as number four out of the top 10 ed-tech stories of 2013, it cited a database presented at last year’s SXSWedu conference – a joint venture of the Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and school officials from various states.

Run by a nonprofit called inBloom, this $1 million database was meant to chart the academic careers of public school students from kindergarten through college. It contained information on millions of children, ranging from their attendance records, attitudes toward school, and learning disabilities to personal information, like students’ names, addresses, and even Social Security numbers.

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