When asked about emerging trends of relevance to those picking research topics at the recent CPRsouth conference, I pointed to the growing importance of the badly named “big data” or its more analytically satisfying subset of transaction generated data (TGD) or information (Thomas McManus coined TGI back in 1991; TGD is more accurate).
It’s going to be big data in everything. Even the shift to MOOCs is driven by the need for TGD, according to the NYT.
There are potential advantages to this shift. When students are logged on, educators can monitor their work in ways that are otherwise impossible. Also, online courses are often more accessible to students who have competing responsibilities, like earning a wage. And, for what they cost colleges to offer, online courses can pull in a lot of tuition dollars, because a single professor’s lectures can be streamed to an almost unlimited number of students, with most grading handled by computers. Many major universities have signed up with private companies to offer MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, some of which include thousands of students.