What’s all this talk about big data?

Maybe it hasn’t popped up on your radar yet, but it seems like everywhere one turns these days there’s another perfectly coiffed Nostradamus-impersonator lauding the inevitable big data revolution that’s just around the corner for higher education.

In case you’re wondering what I think about big data and all of the hubbub about it, I’ve shared a link to something I wrote for the Chronicle of Higher Education recently that they titled, “Big Data, Scant Evidence.” If you can’t access the it from where you are reading this post but really want to read the piece, send me a note and I’ll try to get an unlocked copy to you. My article is part of a larger supplement published last week about the big data trend in higher education. You might find some of the other articles interesting, although it’s hard to read some of this stuff and not think, “Isn’t this what we’ve been doing at Augustana for a while now?” Well . . . yes. Except that we aren’t necessarily a big enough place to produce big data. So what do we call our data? Diminutive? Pocket-sized? Lean?

Whatever you want to call it, we seem to be pretty good at improving based upon solid information.

Make it a good day,


2 thoughts on “What’s all this talk about big data?

  1. Andrew Petersen says:

    We amass a ton of data that isn’t culled for useful information. We have the DB infrastructure to know if first-generation students struggle more in math or writing. From what ZIP codes are students who are most likely to leave Augustana? We have this information, but we don’t have processes or software in place to effectively analyze and report, particularly across systems.
    We could do a lot more.

    • marksalisbury says:

      Hi Andrew!

      You ought to come down to the IR office and see what we do with data. You might be surprised . . . With that said, I am absolutely certain that there is data that you see regarding web site exploring and page clicks that would be very interesting to examine.

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