Friday, May 4, 2012

Education In The Age Of Big Data

Source: Column Five and
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Major news outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have recently blazoned what James Gleick, Hans Rosling, and Edward Tufte have known for years. We are living in the "Age of Big Data." Google search results, barcode scans, and checkout-counter zip code entries are all amassing catalogs of bits and bytes. Data is the driver of technological and business success. Those who best exploit their caches will emerge victorious.

The age of big data affects education in a number of dramatic ways, some obvious and others not as evident.

Source: Wikibon Blog
"Big Data" refers to what Forbes magazine calls the "dizzying amounts of customer records, sound recordings, images, text messages, Facebook comments and technical information that has to be stored, retrieved and understood in its proper context." This numerical index is growing swiftly in volume, velocity, and variety. In fact, "90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone," according to IBM. McKinsey & Company emphasizes this same rapid ascent, noting that "the increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet of Things will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future."

Source: and The Economist
In schools, students desperately need enhanced training in STEM proficiencies to parse and process statistics. The business community is hungry for analysts to make sense of figures and to program number-crunching computers.

Evaluative data is also actively used in state districts, to determine school ratings and teacher rankings. Crusading administrators treat standardized tests as sacrosanct. Student scores are twisted into digital knots to flay teachers for real or imagined failings. Educators who are ill equipped to fight back against the misapplied tallies will be on the losing end of data’s lash.

Source: Armedia, fifth.sentinel
Given the ubiquity of information, the real impact on education is the need for early exposure to data graphics and visual statistics. As charts, polls, and percentages fill children’s sight lines, they need the tools to internalize the meaning of their data-driven world.
 Graphicacy, therefore, becomes an essential literacy in teaching students to decode optical inputs and to encode their own numerical representations. Graphicacy as a discipline is emerging in progressive curricula to educate the big data generation most effectively.

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