An NSF-sponsored program for educational innovation using big data

What is the Big Data for Education Project?

The Big Data for Education project is a spoke in the Big Data Northeast Innovation Hub, an NSF-sponsored award (#1550284) granted to Kathleen McKeown at Columbia University, in collaboration with its Executive Director, René Bastón. These hubs improve innovation across a variety of fields by leveraging the power of large data sets. Our spoke, led by Beverly Woolf, Ryan Baker, Neil Heffernan, Jaclyn Ocumpaugh, and Ivon Arroyo, focuses on improving the educational opportunities of k-12 students in the United States by strategically investigating and applying the available educational data to improve the learning experiences of US students. Our mandate is to build community and improving resources in this area within the Northeastern USA.

Big Goals

Our goals are far-reaching. We seek to improve the research and tools available within a variety of subfields related to education. In doing so, we are partnering with a wide variety of people in both academia and industry. This will allow us to provide concrete improvements to the educational experiences of individual students who are using the educational software we investigate over the course of this grant.

Immediate Goals

We have three community goals that we are promoting within the context of educational software systems that have been previously vetted for their educational efficacy:

  1. Use large data sets to move the field beyond the immediate measures of learning and mastery that are typically employed in educational research, pushing instead towards an understanding of how longer-term measures (e.g., such as enrolling and succeeding in higher education) may be used to develop interventions and improve opportunities for k-12 students.
  2. Improve teachers' use of big data in education--both by improving the quality and presentation of such data and by improving professional development opportunities to better train teachers in best practices for using data to drive student interventions.
  3. Use the data produced by digital learning environments to develop real-time interventions that complement existing treatments and strategies employed within educational software design.

We will work towards accomplishing these goals by sponsoring annual big-data competitions. Our first competition in 2017 is here.

Big Blueprint for Data-Driven Improvements to Education

Data from digital learning environments will drive our efforts to improve education, but so will our partners in academia, industry, and k-12 education. Over this spoke's lifespan, we will improve both training opportunities for researchers and professional development opportunities for teachers. We will also work to increase involvement in educational research from diverse areas of academia and industry, primarily through annual competitions that use real-world data. If you're interested in participating in this spoke, please see our contacts page for relevant information about how to sign up for alerts!