Friday, 21 November 2014

Ideas on #bigdata and #education? Share your help

If you have firm thoughts on Big Data and how it affects education at present or in the future ... then HELP ME! I would be thankful to hear your thoughts! I will face two GIANTS in Learning Analytics and Big Data: George Siemens (visionair and educational explorer) and the formidable Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, an established top notch Big Data researcher (Harvard, Oxford, Guru on Network Economy). Now there is no doubt in my mind that these guys are the best in their (and our, my) field. So it is going to be a hell of a job to come up against them with firm arguments in a "Big Data corrupts Education" debate. My argument: yes, data is corrupting education. Luckily, I will be joined by the fantastically intelligent and erudite Ellen Wagner (chief research officer for Predictive Analytics, and allround educause genius)

A bit of background on the upcoming event: in just under two weeks from now Online Educa Berlin starts. A conference bringing together eLearning academics, corporate trainers, mLearning ngo visionairs... all kinds of people with great insights and knowledge related to technology driven education and training. On Thursday 4 December 2014 the heat will be on! Ellen and I will go head to head with George Siemens and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger in a debate on whether or not Big Data is corrupting Education.

The location and timing of the debate can be found in the OEB2014 program here.

The stakes are high, and as the wild card in this bunch, I am totally aware of my need for help, from you the in-crowd. You: those who know, those who can pull a creative argument out of their sleeves in a moments notice, or after deep and thorough reflection ... each option welcomed as I am the only one in this bunch outside of the educational establishment.

As a means of saying thank you, I will post the names (if you provide them) of all of you who sent me ideas, trains of thought, insights... Your names will be posted on a slide projected during the live stream (and recorded) debate.

To recap: Ellen Wagner's and my stand: "Big Data corrupts Education", Viktor and George's stand: Big Data rocks and will save education (or something along those lines).

Some thoughts I am working on, so new arguments or strengthening arguments welcomed:

  • Big Data as it is now will exponentially enhance the faults as occurring in small data
  • Utopian visions are easy with each new invention, practical implementation and real-world facts are much harder to cope with.
  • Formal learning does not give a full picture of the real (informal and formal) learning that occurs inside of each one of us.
  • A norm translated into algorithms, reproduces that same norm multiple times. 
  • Big data can only be stored and filtered by big companies (private sector), where education and its tools should stay public good (transparent, personal). Big data is in the hands of little data elite.
  • Privacy issues: what if a persons data is sold and infinitely stored? (data trail from kindergarden onward) 
  • Jobs are diminishing at a vast rate, new jobs are being set up. Which algorithms can anticipate the skills for these new jobs. Or broader: is finding a job the ultimate goal of education?
  • Correlation is no replacement for causality. Causality is the basis of all strong research.
  • Even for those areas were research has been providing conclusions and guidelines for centuries, these conclusions are not necessarily being put to real use (the return and money conundrum). 
  • And at the moment my central idea is: the philosophy behind education as it is lived at this moment in time is flawed, as such reproducing Big data algorithms to reach the current educational trends will be reinforcing flawed educational actions.