Big Data in eLearning – Are Our Learners Just Another Number?

Big Data is the new buzz word in all organisations and in all aspects of business. Big Data gives you the power to understand the environment and your business, and provides the know-how to improving your Return On Investment (ROI). But how is Big Data impacting the learning environment and our learners?


What is Big Data?

Big Data is extremely large datasets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions. In terms of eLearning, Big Data is data that is created by learners while they are completing an eLearning course. In the eLearning environment, big data may include:

  • Demographics of a learner
  • Progress and assessment results of a learner
  • Social sharing and collaboration
  • Types of devices used during a course
  • Types of browsers and operating systems used during a course


Benefits of Big Data for eLearning

There are numerous benefits of Big Data that impact the future of learning; how to create eLearning; and how the learner experiences this eLearning. The following are some of the benefits:

1. Structure

Big Data helps you understand if there are any structural issues with the course design and which structure works best. For example, Big Data will allow you to determine if a scenario based activity is more effective than a video.

2. Fine-tuned Design

Big Data enables instructional designers to identify areas in the course that may need to be redesigned. For example, if learners are taking an excessive amount of time to finish a section within a course, the section may need to redesigned or improved to make it more manageable for learners.

3. Views and Clicks

Big Data analysis can assist to identify which courses, modules or topics are the most popular amongst your learners or which eLearning modules or links are shared on social media by tracking the clicks or views per page.

4. Patterns

Based on patterns in the data, you have the opportunity to predict where learners may struggle or excel. This allows you to design and develop the course so that learners are provided a chance to achieve higher results.

5. Deployment

Big Data provides invaluable insight on whether particular deployment strategies are worth the time or effort. For example, if more than 80% of learners are using Android devices compared to the iOS devices, then your strategy should be to support Android-based development before opting for iOS.


Big Data is changing the eLearning industry and is impacting on the way eLearning professionals develop courses as well as how the learner experiences the course. Our learners should not feel as if they are another number in our course or collection of data. As learning professionals, we need to understand and use Big Data to customise the eLearning experience to provide learners with more effective and engaging courses, to create and target effective learning strategies and goals, and to improve ROI for both the organisation and learner.


1 thought on “Big Data in eLearning – Are Our Learners Just Another Number?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *