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Big Data: Transforming Educational Research

Home Articles Big Data: Transforming Educational Research

The traditional educational system in almost all the classes will be completely wiped away shortly. The educational technophiles have to say this. They say that they imagine a world where students will just remember only the digital applications. The future lays a picture which would transform the customary classroom instructions into the beeping sounds of the computers. Moreover, the cloud-based collaboration and the self-paced lessons will whisk away the chalk and duster technique to learn new things.

Many parts of the world are already experiencing this scenario in their educational academies and schools. This shows that also the basic education research of the outlier schools has also been a part of the transformation. The two factors which allow unboxing the black box of the classroom are the declining cost and the eased access of the abundant computing power. The most prominent advantage of the high-level transformative power is that it specifies the teachers about the working of the things. It gives them a proper insight into the what is the thing and how it works.

Technology is the favourite word of most of the students beginning with ‘T.’ The students enjoy the company of the technical aspects and the benefits which it is laying during their learning process. Along with keeping them engaged in the studies, it has a lot more to offer. It can equip school, teachers and district leaders. The policymakers also enjoy the advantages of the trending term with T and have analytics and the insight of the decisions to be made.


It is a tricky proposition to research about the compartment of the teachers and the students. If you need to have a research-based and respected approach towards this, then you need to have trained observers. The teaching and the learning processes of various aspects include a close watch and code. Coding by hand, or collecting videos needs time, in fact, the scholars have to spend innumerable hours in the coding process.

Big data is a methodology which has significant insights to be gained through. These are the importance of the teachers. They ask open-ended questions and needs labour-intensive work.


Observational studies could have no alternatives. The substitutes for this type of studies are not advantages. But let us talk about them in brief.

  1. NAEP- National Assessment of Educational Progress- Teachers survey about the classroom practices and find about the curriculum under the background questionnaires. All these things are part of NAEP. Sometimes these surveys prove useful, but many limitations come in handy with this. It is because the teachers rely on the accurate and honest reporters of their practice. Yeah, we all know that it is hard to get.
  2. Logs of the detailed work- Asking the teachers to do this and keep a record of it seems unfeasible. These details include how they spend time. It may seem reliable but is not close to perfection. The timing factor is always there.


Machines can do anything. There is no need to spy on the students in the classroom and monitor whether they are learning. It has become accessible with a picture click. We can get all the required information not only from one or two days but for the whole semester of the year. It is the magic of the machines. With the help of the computer figure, the reams of data are easy to get.

A group of professors is working on it. They are teaching computers to code and capture classroom activities. The educational academies which are involved in the revolutionized process are the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh and the University of Memphis. Moreover, they are emphasizing on asking questions. It is because it keeps you engaged in the classroom and makes you active. Also, they are helping the teachers to learn how they can ask better questions on the research basis. They determine the levels and the quality of the questions you have in your mind.


Detecting the different kinds of activities has been made easier with the recent applications. The set of activities include lectures VS group discussion VS seatwork for instance. The programs are beginning to differentiate between the bad and the good questions. For the ambiguous cases, the humans are still more reliable coders. But we cannot deny the fact that the computers are getting better and better. They are getting good enough and that too carrying sufficient data. They are getting successful in creating more reliable findings.

The approach is easy. It is because it is giving underlying instructional data in a digital form. Of course, it is accessible, to begin with. Now the experts are emphasizing on the traces of the students and their interactions in the digital applications. These things include the keystrokes, answers, and pauses, for example when you are working on online science programs. Making algorithms to make sense of all the things is necessary. Yes, the experts do this.


The teachers can improve their practice and boost the efficiency which they have gained in all these years of experience. Moreover, enhancing the effectiveness of the students does not remain a tough task for the students in the digital age. The samples of the NAEP could be used as the surveys to collect the audio, every day, all day in schools. Moreover, capturing the digital activities of the students is analyzable.


The political predicaments are dominating the list of the barriers. The most prominent problems are not related to technology, but these are political. Even if the researchers are promising to use the data in the researched format but still chronicling classrooms and that too in minute detail is not a topic where the teachers go well.

The combo of big data and machine learning if taken carefully can empower the building enterprises to improve classroom instruction. It would be neglect the ways in traditional and technology-infused the instruction.

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