Rarely do our leaders rely on a flip of the coin, or a phone call to the psychic hotline to make decisions. They rely on information; data. The current market for data is enormous, giving rise to the term, Big Data.
Big data is exactly that, an enormous influx of data from every source imaginable. Data comes from the “like” button you hit on Facebook, to tracking your purchases with a credit card. Each bit of data gives information for companies to use in its marketing and advertising protocols.
Data is useful in education also. Big Data allows us to design curriculum and modify pedagogy for students with special needs. MOOC’s are excellent sources of instructional data, as they record every aspect of a student's interaction with the class learning environment. From when and how the student registered, to the time it took them to read the textbook the course itself is a constant stream of information that instructors and course administrators can use for self reflection when the course is complete.
In specific terms of educational technology, Big Data allows districts to see how various devices are being used within the classroom environment. The district I am evaluating is currently constructing their Technology Plan. They are using data from the surrounding districts to determine the direction of the technology implementation model; currently they are trying to figure out if the district will issue technology devices or if they will implement a BYOD type program. None of the explorations of the possibilities would have occurred without the data from other districts.