The Evolution of Big Data and Learning Analytics in American Higher Education

Volume, Issue - Date: 
Volume 16, Issue 3 - June 2012
Anthony G. Picciano, City University of New York (CUNY)
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data-driven decision making, big data, learning analytics, higher education, rational decision making, planning

Data-driven decision making, popularized in the 1980s and 1990s, is evolving into a vastly more sophisticated concept known as big data that relies on software approaches generally referred to as analytics. Big data and analytics for instructional applications are in their infancy and will take a few years to mature, although their presence is already being felt and should not be ignored. While big data and analytics are not panaceas for addressing all of the issues and decisions faced by higher education administrators, they can become part of the solutions integrated into administrative and instructional functions. The purpose of this article is to examine the evolving world of big data and analytics in American higher education. Specifically, it will look at the nature of these concepts, provide basic definitions, consider possible applications, and last but not least, identify concerns about their implementation and growth.