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Big data can help improve education system

Rachel Wheeler

May 17, 2013

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Data quality can have a tremendous influence on operations in a variety of fields - the healthcare, finance and retail sectors can all realize significant benefits from collecting massive amounts of data and checking its veracity using address management solutions. Perhaps no area, however, provides a greater opportunity to leverage data into results than education, where millions of students work their way through school systems that still have room for improvement. Working with quality data can help the education system shore up inefficiencies.

There are many examples of big data's ability to have a positive impact on education. Here are just a couple.

Improving financial aid
A heartwarming story recently arose at Georgia State University in Atlanta, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Shaun Fowler was a solid student in good standing with the university until his sophomore year, when he came up just $500 short on his tuition bill. He was just a few days away from being kicked out of the university for nonpayment, ruining an otherwise promising academic career. At the last minute, a financial aid officer swooped in, offered to lend him the $500 and thus saved his academic life.

Financial aid officers aren't able to provide for every student - they don't have the budgets for that, especially at a place like Georgia State where many students come from low-income families. But by isolating students who could use small loans either because they're very close to paying off their tuition or they're nearing graduation, schools can help identify the best uses for their aid dollars. It worked for Fowler.

Tracking student progress
According to GigaOM, schools have also begun using big data to track student performance. An education technology company called Desire2Learn uses data to predict how students will fare in their college courses. The software solution digitally reviews students' homework assignments, quizzes, tests and communications with students, using data to predict their future performances and give educators an assessment of how each assignment aids students' progress.

"It provides deeper insights to teachers on how to achieve better outcomes, what's working and what's not working," Desire2Learn CEO John Baker told the news source.

If schools are able to gather accurate data about their students, it can go a long way. Not only can it help with the financial aspect of education, but it can also have a profound effect on a student's week-to-week academic progress. The more data educators gather, the better they can  equip themselves to improve their schools for the long haul.

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