Is "Big Data" the Most Misused Term in Education?

By Maya Cohen

Student in Class

While “big data” is the term on every innovator’s tongue, how does it truly impact teaching and learning? When instructors are tasked with sifting through heaps of numbers and factors that influence student performance, what can big data really do to push the needle toward achievement within a mere semester?

We, at McGraw-Hill Education, created Connect Insight not by thinking about big data, but by focusing on small, usable information. Our work over the past 125 years has intimately involved us with the teaching and learning experiences of thousands of instructors and millions of students around the world; Connect Insight draws on that myriad of experience to offer an intuitive method for instructors to easily decipher student performance and the impact of each assignment to make data-driven decisions on how to improve and optimize outcomes.

In other words, we created Small Data.

“Intuitive” and “actionable” are the two values at the heart of Connect Insight. Stephen Laster, Chief Digital Officer, at McGraw-Hill Education, often talks about the need to focus on simplicity and create products that are elegant and easy to use. While the underlying technology and analysis that forms the groundwork of Connect Insight may be complicated, this tool truly makes an impact because it is intuitive for everyone. When developing Connect Insight, we obsessed over finding ways to deliver insights that instructors could actually use to power success in their courses. With Connect Insight, we transformed the role of data in education by providing educators with information sufficiently small enough to act upon.

The future of data in education is enormously bright—and admittedly big. That is, if we think small.

Take a peek at Connect Insight here: