"Big data" is appearing frequently in any discussion of technology. It is the ability to mine huge databases to find patterns or monitor developments.
Generally the data miners claim the wonders of good that will come from the practices--but one has to wonder. An example is an item from the Globe and Mail titled "Big Brother on campus?"
Data mining is creeping into every aspect of student life – classrooms, advising, socializing. And now it’s hitting textbooks, too,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
“CourseSmart, which sells digital versions of textbooks to big publishers, announced [this month] a new tool to help professors and others measure students’ engagement with electronic course materials.
When students use print textbooks, professors can’t track their reading. But as learning shifts online, everything students do in digital spaces can be monitored, including the intimate details of their reading habits. … [CourseSmart can] track students’ behaviour: how much time they spend reading, how many pages they view, and how many notes and highlights they make.
[Those] data will get crunched into an engagement score for each student.” Faculty members can reach out to students showing low engagement."