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  • The Use of Big Data in Education (Part 2)

    “We need technology as the analytic engine to help the teacher. In most cases, technology has been the roadblock, but technology really empowers the teachers to meet the individual needs of each student,” said John Couch, Apple’s vice president for education, at BETT 2015 earlier this year. In Western countries, most students already have the individual devices and/or computers to make possibe a massive online course using their personal data.


    A new world of information


    source :


    It would be a rare and strange thing if education was the only domain today not to use every piece of data they have on their students, in times when companies, policymakers and financial institutions plunder every piece of information on every individual, and when these same individuals expose them in virtual public areas themselves. One of the biggest challenges is for all schools to overcome their distrust and share their information.  The question today is whether contemporary forms of higher education, such as universities and colleges, could adapt to the massive use of Big Data or if the revolution would create a new, interconnected form of high education.

    The volume of data exchanged, as the name indicates, is another challenge. The magazine Fortune gives this stupefying info on the exponential rise of information: from the dinosaur age up until 2003, 5 exabytes of data were created. In 2011, 5 exabytes were being created every 2 days. In 2013, every 10 minutes. In a few years, it will be every second or  millisecond.  Social Games Zynga treats 1 petabyte of data per day.

    To use the words of comic book writer Alan Moore, the world is entering the age of gaseous information. Information is being broadcast and treated by informatics at a rate and efficiency unreachable by any human intelligence. The use of Big Data in education is a way to remain adapted to a world where the information a student receives at school has become somehow marginal and neglected compared with the amount of which he/she receives every single day through social networks, websites or information devices. How then can a school’s educational vision  be adapted to a massive use of Big Data in education?


    How can we keep the specific values of education in a Big Data model?


    Looking at the big picture, people won’t really need an intermediary anymore. It may sound like science fiction right now, but the developments seen in the last few years show that it’s not: it isn’t incredible to imagine, in the course of a few decades, an education model based on a gaming process, where students will be directly provided for, and will receive courses and tasks designed to correspond to each student’s character and taste without the student ever needing to make a choice or  to make the effort to consider their options.


    source :

    What are the repercussions of such an absolutist system on the diversity and evolution of the students that are touched by this Big Data revolution?

    This type of education model, based sometimes directly on a predetermined notion of a student’s capabilities and preferences, could be devastating not only for the current education system in general, but also for the individual student, by destroying the notion of investment and replacing it with the notion of answering needs. To limit someone to his own pre-formatted needs and environmental conditions could be seen as a minor problem in terms of results (the educative and professional success of the student afterwards is enhanced). Yet, this model requires careful consideration.

    When students are  offered a curriculum with a range of courses and exercises, they may appreciate some more than others but will be expected to participate in all , as the course work is equally required by everyone. That’s when a new interest could be developed and students have an opportunity to enhance a variety of  abilities. However,  if a student is limited to a group of products  which, through the use of Big Data, have been developed to conform to his projected work capabilities and outcome for success – based on the same algorithms used in the entertainment industry – on a large scale, this could become a depreciative process. What the education business would end up providing would  be educational miniclubs rather than a well-rounded education.

    These are few of the big questions that Big Data companies, whether they are startups or established firms, will have to address and to answer: not only to convince schools and policymakers, but to make sure nothing essential is sacrificed in the name of innovation.

    Originally published at the Open Education Challenge blog.

    cover blog post big data_june
  • The use of Big Data in Education (Part 1)

    Big Data is not only a big trend today: it’s a disruptive innovation that progressively changes every aspect of our daily processes, and perhaps even our society. The education business is one of those where the integration of big data raises the most important number of questions; probably because education has historically been more associated with the notions of subjectivity and independent thinking than other sectors, the use of a massive authoritarian database looks like a threat to free-thinking and learning. MOOCs, papers and courses are written on it, revealing the fears and expectations big data inspire.


    cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe


    Big Data, a threatening educative revolution

    Big Data uses a series of recent technological innovations to create massive data reserves and new ways to interpret, analyse and apply those using specific algorithms. For a school or university, two different data resources are used: the data within the school, as inside processes or marking algorithms, and the data from outside the school, as the external data bases, the social network contents and the personal data and historic information. Big Data, as it is understood today, is the eco-system formed by these two data resources, enabling the internal research and analytics of the school to integrate and descript the normalised behaviours of students in order to track them.

    The use of data in education works in three major operations:

    • Scoring and Grading : a common resource for grades or credits, automatically actualised with every new work by the student, helping both student and teacher to keep track of their course; such as that used in Colorado public schools.
    • Adaptive learning: everybody knows that each student has their own approach to learning. Use of data enables educational programs and teachers to adapt to each student’s aptitude, based on that student’s point of view and the actual results he achieves.
    • Problem management: authenticity of work, consistency, absences… the control of every aspect of school life becomes easier.

    The V’s of Big Data in Education




    The 3 Big V’s of Big Data are Volume, Velocity and Variety.

    • VARIETY is one the main success factors in the use of big data in education. Instead of offering the same course, work requisites and books to everyone – still true in many cases – ,which very often contain standardised information, it is now possible to provide students with items adapted to his/her own specific ability.
    • VARIETY also refers to the variety of different methods used to track and use a student’s preferences and difficulties: demographic data, localisation, navigation, mail accounts, personal desktop contents…
    • For these two VARIETY assets, VOLUME is the one thing that permits schools to touch the greatest audience, and offer them the most varied course.
    • VELOCITY is the asset that uses stocking and reporting to give reports in movement, sometimes in real time, giving the student what he/she needs – even before the need becomes recognised by the student or the idea of a need appears – offering more precision to answer this need. Real-time auctions are already being developed using this method. This explosion is due to two different technological revolutions: data capacity acceleration and the rapid expansion of the internet and social networks that enable its diffusion.
    • Another V could be VERACITY: the verification of the safety and exactitude of data during the whole process.
    • VARIABILITY: the different processes to use the reclosed data.
    • COMPLEXITY: it is obvious that the better the algorithm used to track and predict students’ behaviors, the more complicated it is.


    MOOCs and e-learning platforms already dispose of a very targeted and rich database, enabling them to create very specific courses that are often much more effective than the ones done by competitors. Big Data, first of all, creates a new, simple and effective segmentation of the students. This research is realised real-time by the same systems that provide the courses; it is no longer an estimation but the virtual landscape of the audience. Once a good algorithm has been found and is adapted to a specific audience, course and teaching model, the analysis, tracking and business proposition can be made within a few seconds, and the student is offered personalised results and advice. It can even reveal a potential learning value that a human observer might not have been aware of.

    The role of the teacher, therefore, would be to provide the human factor necessary for interpreting and humanising these results, in order to help the student deal with problems and to see those things that weren’t revealed by data information.


    Originally published at the Open Education Challenge blog.


    cover_post big data
  • Educational Video Games engage learners

    In the first part of our blog post, we finished our brief history of educational video games by explaining the specific ways video games engage learners. The fantasy element of a game is not only attractive but also immediately rewarding. Interaction and identification are two main factors that require memory retention and involvement. The Institute of Play, for example, conducts learning research and classes to explore the possibilities of a learning model based on these principles.

    Not only have video games become a primordial social tool to make friends, but what a child experiments during the process of playing helps them to regulate feelings, challenge themselves, express their identities in a virtual and fun world, as Dr. Cheryl K. Olson explains in this paper. The Pew Internet research paper shows that gaming experiences can have a social relevance as well as an educational value. Games for Change facilitates the creation and distribution of games with social impact; companies like the Games Learning Society are dedicated to innovative gaming experiences that have the potential to foster the communication of ideas.

    We asked David Miller, Director of Learning at Kuato Studios, to explain this transformation of educative methods that affects every step of learning, from kindergarten to high school.

     david miller youtube



    Is there really a need to use videogames as an educative medium? Is it a question of talking the language of the learner?

    Videogames certainly have a place in the classroom. There seems to be a view that videogames of themselves provide the stimulation and engagement, but really the best learning games will be ones where a teacher can manage and choreograph a great conversation around what is happening in the game. I’m not saying that without this learning won’t happen, but the richest learning experience is a social interaction. In terms of talking the language of the learner, yes, young people are familiar with video games, and the language of video games, but learning is so much more than leveling-up and receiving badges and rewards with each level. In some ways, gamification panders to an old-fashioned learning model – less about curiosity and exploration and more about assessment and achievement.


    How would you define the philosophy of Kuato Studios?

    In a sense, games are already learning environments teaching the player mechanics, systems, and skills. For example, playing Skyrim will make a player a health potions expert. If a game can teach about fictional botany in a way that makes the player both interested and invested, why can’t a game help others learn about real world skills?  The current wave of educational games doesn’t follow modern education guidelines or 21st century skills, which place much more stock in creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration. For so many “educational” games, it is all about curricular content and assessment rather than skills and creativity. We are also very careful about how we use the terms teaching and learning. We are more interested in creating games in which young people learn, than games that teach. Teachers still do the best job of teaching, whereas a game can enhance a child’s ability to grasp a concept or develop new skills. Learning is about exploration, learning the rules (and breaking them), and discovery.

    One of the unique aspects of Kuato is that we want to make games that are about learning but can also compete with other hard core gaming titles. Graphics and sound are key to creating an immersive learning environment. The learner has in a sense to suspend their disbelief – they have to believe this is a cool game as well as an interesting learning environment. The environment has to engage them emotionally, aesthetically AND intellectually. We are proving we can create such environments with two games so far: Hakitzu which introduces kids as young as eight to the rudiments of JavaScript, and Dino Tales which is all about literacy and storytelling. Hakitzu takes place in a vibrant world of robots and atmospheric arenas; Dino Tales takes place in a Jurassic wonderland rich in storytelling possibilities.


    dino tales


    Is it necessary to make sure that the educative outcome of the game is more relevant for the learner than the playful aspect?

    The best learning game should be an equal marriage of game design and learning design; game mechanic and learning mechanic. Games are already an interesting and fun environment, which is not to say that the learning has to be fun. There can be problems which require hard thinking, but the satisfaction of solving a problem within a game, or creating a solution, can give immense satisfaction to a player / learner. Games can also allow players to fail and try again where failing doesn’t seem to carry the same weight as it might in a classroom. The presence of avatars also allows players the fun of ‘being’ someone else, to shape their own learning from the point of view of an external character.


    This post was first published at the Open Education Challenge blog.




The Judges

Don Burton

Don Burton

Co-Founder, EDGE EdTech accelerator, NYC
PA - head

Pierre-Antoine Ullmo

Founder and manager, PAU Education, Open Education Challenge

Fernando Valenzuela

President, Latin America, Cengage Learning / National Geographic Learning.
Grace Gould

Grace Gould

Early stage investor at Index Ventures
Marcelo Burbano

Marcelo Burbano

Founding partner of INNCUBATED
Daniel Zajfman

Daniel Zajfman

President of the Weizmann Institute

Gila Ben-Har

CEO of the Center for Educational Technology

David Weinberger

Co-director, Harvard Library Innovation Lab

Renee Hobbs

Director at Harrington School of Communication
Bob Wise

Governor Bob Wise

President of the Alliance for Excellent Education

Look who is already in the competition


Lumici has developed a learning platform to help secondary & college students create interactive learning journeys, which they can instantly showcase & share with potential employers, parents, peers & teachers.
Enabling students to take ownership & direction of their own learning.
Lumici was founded in October 2014 by Atif Mahmood, highly experienced and previously holding senior positions in learning technologies, ICT in education in the UK & South East Asia, with the knowledge and desire to significantly improve the learning environment through an easy to use and seamless digital interface. The vision for the company is to make learning a live experience by making learning relevant & engaging and you at the centre of it.
Since launching Lumici, we have made progress by gaining traction & adding customers including schools & colleges who are our target market.
Contact Us

about us

The Global EdTech Awards competition is joint initiative of MindCET, The Open Education Challenge, Wayra UK, EdTech Incubator and Inncubated.



MindCET is an EdTech innovation center which brings together entrepreneurs, educators and researchers to develop innovative groundbreaking educational technology in Israel and beyond. MindCET is an independent body within the Center for Educational Technology (CET).


The Open Education Challenge

The Open Education Challenge, launched in 2014 in partnership with the European Commission, is an opportunity for cutting-edge education startups to receive mentoring and seed funding through the European Incubator for Innovation in Education, and get direct access to investors from day one.

Wayra UK


EdTech Incubator

The UK and Europe’s first education technology accelerator programme led by The Education Foundation, in partnership with the Tech City Investment Organisation.



InncubatED is the first incubator in Latin America that focuses on bringing innovation to the education industry by promoting and accelerating Startups in the Edtech space.