on 30 March 2014
This is a short essay taking the arguments from Mayer-Schonberger's big book of big data and applying them to education. It has the same strengths and weaknesses: the journalist hand of Cukier ensures that the examples are clear and concise, but the book does not go into the techniques of data analysis in enough detail for anyone involved in education to know how to apply the lessons to their lessons. Several of the examples of data analysis describing personalised learning or cohort analysis are not really what most people would describe as "big data". Maybe in education it is not that the data has become big, but that the analysts have become small. Mayer-Sconberger has described statisticians who object to his focus on regression over causality as the "ancien regime": in this essay he is the data Danton herding bourbon teachers into the tumbrel. Overall this is a very good summary of the significant trend in education for it to be shaped by data on learners.