4 Ways To Leverage Big Data In Education
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Big Data In Education: How Can K12 Publishers Leverage Big Data To Boost Their Business?

What data is available? The examples are endless, because we can apply the term “Big Data” to all the data produced during the use of an eLearning solution. We can look for patterns in users’ behavior: teachers, students, school administrators, and any other players undertaking actions in the eLearning environment. We can check the effectiveness of delivered courses, e.g. number of mistakes, time spent, or a course bounce rate. We can create user profiles, analyze the intensity of use in various regions and cities, or check the proportions between course usage at home or in school. This data not only provides information about the delivered digital solutions, but may also tell us a lot about related products, such as the print line. There has been a lot of academic discussion about Big Data, but how can they really be used in practice in the K12 publishing? Here are some practical examples of how the gathered data influence the quality of the courses, user loyalty, sales results, precision of marketing actions, and much more.

To Be, Or Not To Be? The New Challenges Of Educational ePublishing
This eBook will provide you with all the essentials to move from printed materials to digital.

1. Fine-Tuning The eCourses

The most common way of utilizing Big Data by a publisher is regular eCourse analysis and improvement to gradually increase effectiveness. The publishers or editors responsible for creation of digital textbooks can assess whether their materials present the initial concepts and ideas clearly and effectively. They learn how difficult it is for students to understand concepts, which particular part of an electronic page or activity creates a problem for learners or is not challenging enough. Analyzing user interactions with a course allows finding relevant pages or even single activities to improve. It consists of looking for exercises with the highest number of mistakes, requests for hints or lessons with the highest bounce rates.

A huge advantage here is that instead of waiting for the next edition of a paper-based textbook, publishers can make all corrections and improvements practically in real time and instantly check the results of their actions. What is more, such constant perfection may, after a while, increase user satisfaction with the materials, and thus lead to greater loyalty and openness to the publisher’s other offerings. But course effectiveness is not the end of the story, as there are other areas ripe for potential improvement.

For example, a publisher can verify whether a proposed amount of teaching materials is provided accurately for a particular period of time. Some of the publisher's print and digital textbooks are divided into parts that may, for instance, reflect a school semester. The second part of the course may be opened only two weeks after the semester start date – this could mean that the first part has been overloaded. Moreover, verifying eCourse structure is a great best practice. We can look for patterns within our eCourse – whether it is used in accordance with the created structure or the sequence of utilizing certain topics is noticeably different from the one proposed. Maybe there are topics that are omitted by a substantial number of users? There is a lot of space for improvement here, and Big Data provides us what we need to get this done.

2. Comparing Methods

It is often the case that a publisher has two or even more methods in the portfolio created for the same subject and
 the same educational level. Big Data is an important source
 of information to compare these methods, find their strengths and better position them against each other. Such analysis is particularly important when making strategic decisions concerning discontinuation of an offering. Maybe one method is used more frequently at school and 
the other one is more often utilized outside the classroom? When it comes to the level of difficulty – is one method more difficult than the other? The popularity of methods may vary depending on a region or can be correlated with using other methods provided for a different subject or an educational level.

Publishers can also test effectiveness. Sometimes there are different approaches applied in the methods in order to explain the same subject matter: a publisher can check which one is more effective. This can also apply to one eLearning course. If the used tools and platform allow implementing changes easily in a course, a publisher can apply different teaching approaches to one topic and check students’ behavior and results. This leads to identifying a more effective pedagogy.

3. Rationalizing Production

If an eCourse contains elements that are complicated to produce, it is possible to estimate their contribution and importance to the whole course. How heavily are they used in comparison with other course modules? Are they used as home assignments or supplementary exercises at the end of a lesson? And finally, how has replacing a chosen module with a simpler one influenced user’s behavior? The advantages of using Big Data surely outweigh the effort.

4. Enhanced Marketing And Sales

Knowledge about users is a key for effective communication – building a knowledge of user profiles on the basis of observed behavior in the context of e.g. region, educational level, and even gender helps to segment customers and adjust our methods. Recognition of users’ preferences and the strengths of offered solutions can be achieved through identifying the most popular lessons or resources. This knowledge is a huge aid in building proper market communication. A publisher knows which values to underline, what is truly appreciated by a user, which problems the solution can solve. Going even further – a publisher knows which lessons will be well received when presenting a course.

The knowledge of the user’s behavior and preferences is a powerful tool for enhancing the sales of print products. Imagine a case where a publisher provides digital courses on an LMS platform to schools and sells print textbooks and other supplementary products to schools. There may be schools that use digital courses of this particular publisher, but buy print products from the competition. The field sales forces may be provided with information what digital courses are most appreciated by school teachers. This can help them to interest a school in acquiring a relevant print product.

Leveraging Big Data Made Possible

These examples are definitely not the end of the list. A publisher can explore the applications of Big Data and identify those that best suit his or her business, bringing together their business model with their pedagogical mission. In some cases the data provided by the standard web analytical tools like Google Analytics may be of use, but they do not provide all the information required by the specifics of educational publishing. In order to achieve the above-mentioned possibilities, it is necessary to have a perfect match of an LMS and highly interactive eContent deployed in it. Not every LMS or authoring tool available on the market provide access to the data necessary to capture the above-mentioned information.

If you want to learn more about the very distinctive needs of K12 educational publishing, and why they are very different from those in corporate training or higher education, download the eBook To Be, Or Not To Be? The New Challenges Of Educational ePublishing.

Related articles:

1. The Future Of Educational Publishers

2. Educational ePublishing: 7 Formats To Help You Go From Print To Digital

3. Educational ePublishing: 7 Key Factors For The Selection Of An Authoring Tool

4. eBook: To Be, Or Not To Be? The New Challenges Of Educational ePublishing

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