big data

Big data–you’ve got it, now what?

Here's how higher education institutions can be smart in their big-data approach

The adoption of big data in higher education has been relatively slow due, in part, to privacy concerns. The sheer volume of information can also be overwhelming. Institutions may not know how to best harness and make sense of such large amounts of data.

But the big data trend is just beginning. A 2016 Forbes article stated that institutions are increasingly becoming aware of how useful and impactful big data can be for everything from assessment to accreditation. And, even more important, quality tools now exist to help institutions gather, store, and analyze this data so it can be used to improve student success.

Higher education leaders should be proactive about both recognizing the potential of harnessing big data and pursuing the right tools, programs, and people to manage it. Here are some things they should consider.

What is your end goal?
The term “big data” refers to “data sets, typically consisting of billions or trillions of records, that are so vast and complex that they require new and powerful computational resources to process,” according to So, what are these trillions of records and what should an institution do with them? First, figure out your end goal. Here are some examples of how big data can be used.

(Next page: Learn the right tools to harness the power of big data)

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