The ubiquity of broadband Internet and smartphones has created a varitable deluge of data on the internet. This advent of time spent online, has lead us to leave massive amounts of “exhaust data” in our wake. This data is ripe for analysis and many companies have already utilized this in the creation of successful business models. Amazon.com and Netflix are great examples of this. Amazon was the first online company to successfully collate and make use of the searches and purchases of its current users. Providing them with suggestions for potential items its customers might be interested in. I had the great fortune of hearing a panel discussion with the chief data scientist form amazon last year in Saint John New Brunswick’s Big Data Congress. In it he pointed to Netflix as another success story that has utilized this technique to its success story and is the main reason why the online TV and Movie provider has gone from a very small startup to a powerhouse in its field.
Getting it’s users to complete ratings on shows or films they have previously watched, helped them build an idea of what it’s users were looking for, and then tailoring it’s service to them. This was a more personalized approach is at the very core of Netflix’s success, and is why they have been able to make the leap in creating their own content. The impetus behind shows like House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black, were not made out of haste, but based upon data they retrieved from it’s users.
This idea of taking user interaction data and providing actionable results has just recently started to make its way into the field of education and there are a number of success stories to highlight in this emerging market. Learning analytics has two distinct offerings that are leaving a footprint in the educational technology field. There are a number of successful startups that have created a foothold that have emerged right alongside MOOCs; both models which have the potential to transform education as we know it. Albeit, there are major concerns that have been highlighted in both of these business models. Nevertheless, more and more secondary and post secondary institutions are looking to implement these offerings into their systems to align with recent policies promoting data based decisions.
Let’s take a closer look at these two distinct offerings. Both MOOC’s and larger scale learning analytics startups are the flagships of this market and are ripe for analysis and debate. Check out the two links below to see some examples of these in action and participate in the corresponding activities.
Before you begin, take a moment and reflect on any other websites or systems that use the Amazon and Netflix model. Are you a subscriber yourself to websites such as these, and what are your thoughts on the amount of data that each of these companies accumulate about it’s users. Is this an invasion of privacy, or something we have to accept when using these products? I encourage you to post your comments below.