« The power of social learning: Can working with peers improve outcomes? | Main | Non-core classrooms: Are you observing them? »



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Big Data, Big Brother, and the Nest:


I too pause when I think about big data and how much others can learn about us as individuals from that data. We leave data trails in all sorts of places and fashions, often unknowingly. Another problem is that as individuals we don't necessarily control our data - some things we can have control or influence over, but for many aspects we have little to no control. In the long run, I think that big data can offer a powerful lens with which to guide instructional and learning efforts that can be tailored to each student - but we need to have a national conversation about data ownership, data sale and transfer, and the extent to which third parties can mine our data and target us for products and services. I think this conversation could drive greater awareness about how each of us generates data and thoughts about how freely we share that data.

Its a really difficult question in my opinion. Part of the problem is that each of us has already created a massive trail of data and so even if we stop producing more immediately theres still so much out there that already has some value. And the other big problem is that very little data already has an incredible informative value (e.g. 4 random geo data points were sufficient to identify 95% of people) and your phone provider probably has a lot more than that on you. So Google is not actually our only problem.

I agree that Big Data is extremely valuable. My school is in the process of collecting our student population’s testing data and accumulating them, so our educators can work in professional learning communities to assess our students’ achievements and gaps at the school level. Pondering over the information in regards to our grade level strengths and weaknesses is extremely valuable. Out of the five third grade classes, we can compare and contrast where we need to focus our teaching lessons that will benefit our students. We are able to differentiate instruction based on the collection of data from one central location. Overall, I am excited about the database of information. We have even entertained making the database available for everyone in our small district.
Despite the benefit of helping educators monitor student achievements, collecting Big Data in a central location on a broader scale scares me. As educators, we are always warned against sharing students’ personal information. Therefore, I am hesitant to have all of their information available in a global forum. The bigger the database becomes means there is just too much risk to divulging our students’ personal information.

Big data can be very powerful when trying to get a broad brush picture of what is going on. There is big data available that informs us, for example, about the prevalence of breast cancer in our community and the survival rates over the years. The trouble is, it doesn't tell Mary Jones too much about HER breast cancer and what she should do about it. Similarly, big data in education may provide us with a generalized picture of what is happening in the country but it doesn't tell Mrs Smith what to do about the ten year old boy sitting in the second back row who can't keep his feet still, never completes his homework and seems to have significant problems with fractions.

Great article! It got me thinking just how easy it is to disclose information unknowingly. Also got me wondering how much personal information is already disclosed and out there.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

  • McREL Blog
    McREL Web site
    The Web