Monday, November 2, 2015

From the Internet of Things to big data and the quantified student

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Hawk Vision group keeps an eye on the future for MVCC and identifies trends worth watching. This is the first of what will likely be several guest blog posts in the future that warrant our attention. Enjoy.

The Internet of Things is happening all around us, and it has been for some time now. It is a movement to connect physical things to the Internet and to each other through wireless technologies to form a seamless, coherent experience  (http://www.entrepreneurial-insights.com/internet-of-things-future-data/). The future of the Internet of Things raises questions regarding big data and what we do with it. There is much discussion about how everything connects through wireless technology, but what happens with all the data that gets collected? Is there a place for the Internet of Things in higher education? And if so, what? 
According to a white paper written by software company Oracle (“This paper provides an overview for the adoption of Big Data and analytic capabilities as part of a ‘next-generation’ architecture that can meet the needs of higher education institutions”) on enterprise architecture, “Institutions have traditionally measured students by grades and attendance. Students facing severe academic challenges are often recognized too late. Many institutions are now starting to look at Big Data solutions to better understand student sentiment (gathered from social media) and other aspects of the campus life experience. For example, sensors in buildings enable tracking of students and the time that they spend in the classroom, in their dormitory, in the cafeteria, or in the library. The effectiveness of their instructor can be partly determined by analysis of student sentiment. Problems can be detected and corrected earlier, with less dire consequences for all involved.” (For the complete report, click here.) Although written and researched by a for-profit company, the implication of the direction of one of the largest data companies is staggering. 
So does the Internet of Things begin to quantify our students? Can we use the examples of a quantified self to increase student performance and completion? What is quantified self and what data are used to quantify one’s self? Currently the trend in quantified self is using personal data, such as fitness trackers, calorie counters, etc., to track one’s fitness and health. According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), “Quantified Self describes the phenomenon of consumers being able to closely track data that is relevant to their daily activities through the use of technology.” It is enabled by wearable technology and the mobile web. This is a notable trend because it gives us a glimpse of what our daily lives will be like in the near future, in which many of the emerging technologies that we are just getting used to – the mobile, big data, wearable technology – will come together for a seamless consumer experience. (Full article
Only when the Internet of Things, quantified self, and big data come together in a student profile can we begin to understand how much impact the data can have on higher education. In the near future, we will have to address how these three come together to better aid our students in study habits, health habits, and academic planning to truly enhance the entire student experience. The future beyond big data will be the true quantified self through learning experiences, and competency-based education through just-in-time learning and creating a fully quantified self that will serve as an e-portfolio of a person’s true qualifications and ability. The future of higher education will be credentialing competency-based education, experiential learning, and lifelong learning. Self-tracking websites such as LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) give us a peek into the future and the quantified self. 
Do you have any comments or questions about the Internet of Things and the quantified self? Hawk Vision would love to hear from you! Share your thoughts with us at hawkvision@mvcc.edu.