Big data, predictive analytics, data mining—the list goes on. These terms, absent 20 years ago, are now part of our everyday lexicon. Roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily, impacting our lives and careers in unexpected ways.
But big data is not about the data. It is about what you do with it. It is about the analysis that leads to decisions that impact people. And one of the biggest areas where that analysis can make a difference is in education.
Learning analytics is where big data meets traditional quantitative methods in education. Governments, universities, testing organizations, and massive open online course providers are collecting data about learners and how they learn. All that data, however, has been mostly untapped until the fairly recent development of the methods and tools to do so.
Much of the data currently available does not come in neat, well-organized, and collected formats. It exists in varied forms across systems and locations. Analysts today need the skills to access and transform this data, so we can better understand not only what students know, but how they know it. Learning analytics and educational data mining are the tools to transform this data into knowledge and lead, in the end, to improved education.
More than 87 percent of teachers surveyed by The New America Foundation claim analytics can be a powerful instruction tool in the classroom. But today’s educators are still not equipped to meet its demands or take advantage of its benefits. Despite analytics’ increasing relevance and strong promise, there is a significant shortage of professionals with sufficient expertise.
McKinsey estimates that the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers with the ability to make data-driven decisions. The NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition, jointly produced by NMC and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, identifies learning analytics as one of the digital strategies and technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the near future.
Now is the time to enter the learning analytics field and make a difference in the education of current students and lifelong learners. To do so requires a solid foundational understanding of quantitative methods, combined with expertise in constructing, merging, managing, cleaning, and analyzing data using cutting-edge software and techniques.
Northeastern offers a Graduate Certificate and Master of Education in Learning Analytics to prepare students to meet the growing demand. Students learn key analytics concepts and theories, and discover how to select, prepare, implement, interpret, and evaluate learning analytic models appropriately.
What impact do you want to have on the future of education?