Talk­ing big on big data’s fu­ture uses

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG HONGYI in Shang­hai wanghongyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Just how big is big data? The Chi­nese ver­sion of the best­seller Learn­ing with Big Data: The Fu­ture of Ed­u­ca­tion will be pub­lished later this year by Shang­haibased East China Nor­mal Univer­sity.

The book re­veals how big data will re­shape peo­ple’s learn­ing and ed­u­ca­tion. It was writ­ten by Vik­tor Mayer-Schön­berger, pro­fes­sor of in­ter­net gov­er­nance and reg­u­la­tion at Ox­ford. He was one of first to point out the im­pli­ca­tions of big data in his pre­vi­ous best­seller Big Data: A Revo­lu­tion That Trans­forms How We Work (Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, 2013)

In the era of big data, it’s not only peo­ple’s lives and work that are chang­ing, but also ed­u­ca­tion and the way we learn.

“Big data is in­flu­enc­ing ev­ery as­pect of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and it will cre­ate far-reach­ing ef­fects on learn­ing and ed­u­ca­tion ac­tiv­i­ties around the world,” Mayer-Schön­berger said in a re­cent speech on the sub­ject at East China Nor­mal Univer­sity.

He de­scribed how var­i­ous on­line cour­ses are chang­ing peo­ple’s meth­ods of teach­ing and learn­ing, which are dis­tinct from tra­di­tional teach­ing meth­ods of data col­lec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Mayer-Schön­berger, tra­di­tional teach­ing meth­ods fo­cus more on the re­sult of learn­ing in­stead of the process. Mass pro­duc­tion of ed­u­ca­tion is like hav­ing just one size of shoes that only fits a cer­tain few.

In­di­vid­u­al­ized teach­ing based on enough data is like col­lect­ing var­i­ous songs from a di­ver­sity of bands, an ap­proach that takes into con­sid­er­a­tion the pref­er­ences of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and gives full play to their po­ten­tial, he said.

“Big data pro­vides us with prob­a­bilis­tic pre­dic­tions to make de­ci­sions for the fu­ture,” Vik­tor said. It is not about fix­ing the fu­ture by fil­ter­ing stu­dents but rather mo­ti­vat­ing ev­ery­one to ex­plore their pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Big data can help teach­ers de­ter­mine the most ef­fec­tive way of teach­ing, en­hance ef­fi­ciency of work and make it more in­ter­est­ing, he said.

Mean­while, the role of teacher will shift more to an or­ga­nizer of learn­ing and dis­cus­sion, which will also help lower the cost of ed­u­ca­tion and cre­ate more ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Big data gives us a more com­pre­hen­sive, more elab­o­rate per­spec­tive, to per­ceive the world and the po­si­tion we are in,” he said.

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