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Big data, not MOOCS

VU International News and Reviews No. 11 August 19 2013

August 2013

In an article in US & World news Report, George Washington University School of Business’ dean Doug Guthrie argues that it will not be MOOC’s, but Big Data that constitute the real disruptive innovation in higher education. 

Big data in the online learning space, he claims, will give institutions the predictive tools they need to improve learning outcomes for individual students. By designing a curriculum that collects data at every step of the student learning process, universities can address student needs with customized modules, assignments, feedback and learning trees in the curriculum that will promote better and richer learning. 

To put this in a Dutch perspective: it is fair to say that on average US universities are much more sophisticated than Dutch universities in their student monitoring systems, with feedback loops to enhance study success (grades and time-to-degree) back to their enrolment practice as well as their curricula. 

Doug Guthrie argues that Big Data in the online space will lead to landslide improvements in the student monitoring systems is American universities. This begs the question how this will affect Dutch universities in an increasingly globalised market for international student talent and what it means for the need of Dutch universities to improve their student monitoring systems. 

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