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When E-Learning Technologies Embrace Big Data

• 4 min read

In 2013 we are faced with a technology-driven world that forces us to spend most of our time using different types of digital devices. While it may be scary, it is also exciting for us to think of the possibilities this creates of putting these digital tools to use, to make the most out of learning and development programs. This is possible using Big Data – the latest buzzword in data mining and data analytics technologies.

Big, fast, and flexible data: what is that?

Big data is the term used for a collection of data-sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.

The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization of data. The trend to larger data-sets is due to the additional information derivable from analysis of a single large set of related data, as compared to separate smaller sets with the same total amount of data, hence allowing correlations of things such as identifying business trends, monitoring and preventing disease spread, revealing quality of research, helping in realizing and fighting crime, and many more benefits.

Big Data

Learning will become increasingly personalized with E-Learning, through leveraging big data analytics to provide interactive learning that is tailored to meet each individual’s skills, objectives, and expectations.

With the rise of mobile and tablet penetration, learners will increasingly access content “anytime, anywhere”. The classroom will become the arena of face-to-face tutoring for individual requirements and open discussion. The need to improve skills, meet regulatory requirements, and manage training costs will result in E-Learning becoming an integral part of the makings of every business.

Big data is also reshaping E-Learning and the future of the workplace, as new data analysis systems will be able to better track the user experience, so that we really understand what’s going on at the end of any single module, tracking the whole learning experience and monitoring how effectively a curriculum is applied to specific skills.

The users of E-Learning software are producing large amount of data either by directly feeding it through systems such as the LMS, or by interacting in various manners with the content that they are learning. Such data flows every second, and flows not only through systems owned by learning companies themselves, but also external entities such as social networks and other communication platforms. This produces a large amount of unstructured data flowing through numerous sources that are too complex to manage. The process of finding faster and scalable solutions to store and process such data requires a reliable cloud infrastructure to enable all the machines to work together.

Benefits of Big Data

Big Data is currently used by organizations for various purposes, primarily for more productive business results. In the E-Learning domain too, many interesting experiments are being carried out across the world, in order to better understand the immense potential Big Data has within the industry.

For example, with the help of Big Data, you can watch your learners (virtually, of course!) and track:

  • The areas within their program that they find hard and spend more of their time on
  • The pages they revisit often
  • The areas in which they might be getting ‘stuck’
  • The sections they recommend to their peers
  • The learning styles they prefer
  • The time of day they learn better

In short, Big Data can help us understand the real behavioral patterns of our learners much more accurately than the already existing traditional beliefs and theories on learner behavior. These patterns could lead to highly valuable information on what and how they learn, thereby helping us make better-informed decisions about the learning programs and identifying design flaws.

Big Data & Benefits for E-Learning

However, the real strength of Big Data lies in its power to help forecast or predict scenarios and take preventive action. For example, with the help of Big Data, you could predict:

  • How strong your learners are in every concept of the courses they have not taken yet!
  • The areas where your learners are likely to struggle or fail.

Big Data could help us predict learners’ performance and outcomes before they start a training program. This could even be at the early stages of analyzing the training requirements! It could also allow us to forecast trends and draw conclusions about our learning and development initiatives.

How is Big Data going to revolutionize E-Learning?

Big Data is set to revolutionize the way E-Learning is designed, developed, and delivered. Introducing this technological innovation into E-Learning has opened the door to vast possibilities in making learning more effective; it could help design and deliver more personalized and adaptive learning programs for our learners. These are the possibilities we have been waiting for. Big Data has the potential to change our approach to learning and development, by challenging the most important beliefs and principles of learning design. It promises to help us push the limits of what we can achieve using present tracking standards.

E-Learning & Big Data

This new technological solution may even force us to refine our traditional approaches to learning design including the processes, systems and procedures that we are presently following.

The E-Learning sector has reached a tipping point, where we now have the correct digital infrastructure, the growing mobile and tablet penetration, the best software platforms, and most importantly the right consumer demand, to see innovation within education become an integral part of teaching and corporate training.

Docebo’s LMS is a web software service that allows you to fast test your Big Data management, and E-Learning is considered the lowest risk area to begin with. Taking into account that E-Learning is “naturally” a multi-device and even “blended” model, means that your users are probably accustomed to changing devices during a learning period or even coming to classrooms during a training program. The most accredited methodology for learning design is based on the “chunk” model, which means that you already own learning content that is ready to be delivered on different platforms. And if that is not enough, Docebo also allows you to easily convert your presentations in HTML5 format using its proprietary authoring tool.