By Kevin Shane / September 12, 2017
Data Vocabulary 2: Some of Many!
Continuing our series on data vocabulary, here are a few more terms that will help you understand your data and use it to improve your school. As we helped schools get ready for the new school year and set up their data systems, these terms seemed relevant to dive into further.
Beginner – “The Cloud/Cloud Computing”
You may hear a lot about “the cloud”, or someone “saving something to the cloud” or “backing up to the cloud”. These are all different ways of saying that something is being stored online in a place you can access from anywhere you have internet access. Cloud computing is a term used to describe remote computers to store and process data. Most of your SIS data can be thought of as being stored in “the cloud” because you can access it from outside your school.
Intermediate – “Big Data”
Big data is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot these days in education due to educational data becoming increasingly more important. Big data is important in business as well as education. Big data is such an important concept that there are even courses you can take to help educate yourself. In an education setting, big data describes the large collections of data schools have about students, teachers, testing, enrollment, etc. These data sets are often so large that they cannot be processed efficiently without aid from a computer. For example, a school district of over one thousand students cannot efficiently comb through testing data using people alone. Computers and programs are used to discover trends and patterns in these large data sets because these programs and platforms can quickly do work that would normally take several human-hours. This is by no means the only way to think about the term “big data.” A Forbes article from 2014 included 12 different definitions of the term, and it has only continued to evolve since then.
Advanced – “API”
API stands for Application Programming Interface – a term used to describe the building blocks of a software, program, app, etc. An API defines how various components of a program will talk to other components and how that program can communicate with other programs. For example, the Facebook API is designed so that Facebook can communicate with other social networks, like Twitter and LinkedIn. In the case of educational data, APIs for Student Information Systems can be designed so that the system can provide data to other platforms for analysis. A good API is especially useful in improving data interoperability.
Hopefully, these three terms have helped you, regardless of your understanding of data. Have you come across any terms you need clarification on? Let’s discuss!