The Future of Big Data: A Nationwide Collaboration?

When I think about the history of technology I am absolutely blown away. My parents and grandparents are always telling stories of what technology was like when they were growing up… “We didn’t even have calculators back then, we had to use slide rules in math.” I was eating lunch with my co-workers one time and they all sat around talking about bag phones (and of course the whole time I just smiled and nodded my head like I had any idea what they were talking about).

It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come just in the last ten years. From bag phones to iPhones, dial up internet to wireless internet, the first computers taking up an entire room to the mini iPad; technology is ever changing. The capabilities we have with new technology are endless.

Take for instance, Big Data. Big Data allows industries to analyze a compilation of data so they can make future improvements to whatever industry they’re in.  The video posted below states that “…big data could help many organizations to understand people better and to allocate resources more effectively” and can probably explain the complexity of big data better than I can.

The Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) allows Virginia to track an individual from early education until they enter the workforce. The Commonwealth can then analyze patterns in education and workforce success to make future improvements in the Virginia education system. The only problem is there is no data on a student during the time period he or she lives out of state.

Virginia isn’t the only state using a longitudinal data system. Currently, 47 states have been awarded grants to participate in a Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS), but all 50 states are eligible to apply for the grant program. The systems don’t currently work together – but, brilliant idea, technology is ever evolving, right? What if they found a way to be able to cross over states and keep one big national data system? That could help us learn a lot about our nation’s education system.

Think about it: we’d have a better understanding of what industries need more people, what industries don’t have enough positions for the amount of people in that industry and what students should consider studying to ensure a more successful career. With the way our economy has been, I think a national data system like this is needed (it would create more jobs for needed researchers to analyze the data too!). It’s amazing to me that we even have the capability to possibly do something like this.

What do you think? Do you think having a data system like this could help improve education and the workforce? KMF

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