Online Education Gets Up Close and Personal as Big Data Improves Performance

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In this special guest feature, Jerry Huang, Chief Operating Officer of iTutorGroup, discusses how the collection and analysis of Big Data will continue to dramatically change the landscape of learning and pave the way for optimized learning experiences, leading to even better student outcomes. Jerry is the COO of iTutorGroup, the global leader in online education providing individualized, personalized learning experiences to hundreds of thousands of students, as well as business professionals, in countless subject matters through its network and sourcing of experts and teachers in thousands of centers, institutions and cities around the world. He is responsible for the company’s global operations, overall strategy, strategic partnerships, investments and international expansion. Jerry holds over 20 years of experience in digital and enterprise technology management, including a senior leadership level position at IBM, in addition to other distinctive positions at various major US retailers. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago – Booth School of Business.

The brick-and-mortar classroom setting has always been a place to thrive, where students of all ages congregate to soak up knowledge. Dedicated to sculpting the minds of new generations, today’s instructors and educational institutions actively track the trends of the Digital Age in order to catapult students into higher levels of learning. Advancements are aplenty – especially in the realm of technology. In fact, the collection and analysis of Big Data is helping to identify the individualized needs of today’s students, resulting in tailored learning, enhanced educational experiences and improvements in student performance. Needless to say, this kind of analysis and its powerful impact excite education enthusiasts and technophiles alike.

Have no fear, Big Data is here

The magic of the collection and analysis of Big Data is in its ability to provide personalization. Through the use of an online platform, Big Data analytics paired with advanced algorithms gather key information about students, such as age, socioeconomic background, aspirations, and goals. These details, referred to as “hard tags,” set the wheels in motion for an optimal learning experience.

Over time, the platform begins to “learn” about the individual needs and habits of each student based on their learning outcomes. These digital takeaways lead to the strategic matching of students with the right instructors, courses, content and classmates. What’s more, the platform provides students with on-demand capabilities, allowing them to learn at their own pace and according to their schedules. Teachers who are matched with students are available anytime, regardless of location or proximity to a brick-and-mortar school.

These collective capabilities – personalization through Big Data analysis and on-demand availability – provide today’s students with significant benefits that will persist throughout their educational careers.

Awareness is spreading like wildfire

As the power behind the collection and analysis of Big Data becomes increasingly clear, various universities are beginning to leverage these capabilities to support their students even more strongly. For example, researchers at Purdue University developed a software program that allows instructors to monitor student performance and predict course success through the gathering and analysis of student data. The researchers have also been able to determine that early identification of potential issues can actually help students boost their performance by up to a full letter grade.

The administration at Georgia State University developed another program that can analyze a student’s performance data in previous classes and apply this analysis to predict when he or she might be in academic trouble, allowing administrators to step in and provide support before it is needed. The system doesn’t just help students who are already failing courses, but also identifies those teetering on the edge—earning Cs in educational tracks that require higher grades. This not only results in better outcomes for individual students, but also in higher rankings for the programs themselves.

Big Data passes with flying colors

Our world continues to evolve at a rapid pace on all levels, including socially, culturally and, of course, technologically. We will look to today’s students as tomorrow’s experts to help guide us through these evolutions, aware that much of their expertise stemmed from the knowledge that they acquired through their years of education. Tracking learning trends has proved to be an excellent conduit between instructors and students, and among these trends stands the collection and analysis of Big Data, which will continue to dramatically change the landscape of learning and pave the way for optimized learning experiences, leading to even better student outcomes.


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  1. Nicola Mitchell says

    As a tutor for itutorgroup I am keen to know why the data capture is not extended to the demographics and skill sets of tutors? Surely by capturing more data on tutor abilities, skills, preferences and aptitudes the pupil experience could be significantly enhanced?