Talking big on big data's future uses

Updated: 2014-11-28 13:20

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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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 Shanghai-based East China Normal University.

The book reveals how big data will reshape people's learning and education. It was written by Viktor Mayer-Schnberger, 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-Schnberger 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-Schnberger, 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.