Improving literacy with big data analytics

While big data analytics software initially found widespread use a tool to identify market trends and predict consumer behavior, many disparate fields have begun taking advantage of the technology's superb data gathering and processing power. Researchers have even begun employing big data tools to tackle the nation's illiteracy problem.

One way in which to combat illiteracy is by fostering enthusiasm for reading in students at an early age and sustaining that excitement throughout their education. Assigning books that are too difficult for students will only serve to frustrate and deter them from reading, while books which are below their intellect will bore them. GigaOM reported that one analytics company has been developing big data software that can better select proper reading material for students.

In the past, teachers have used analytic software to facilitate reading material selection, but those processes were often based on framework such as sentence structure and did not take into account content. In comparison, the company's software analyzes approximately 140 features including sentence length, thematic elements, subject matter and even poetic devices such as alliteration. With these tools, educators can assign books that will appeal to individual students. The hope is that if children remain interested in and excited about reading throughout their education, they will become lifelong readers. The nation's literacy rates will rise once these types of measures become more widespread.

The company hopes to further utilize data analytics to take their program one step further. With big data software, their engineers believe they can one day power a fully automated adaptive learning platform which would assess student reading comprehension levels and assign appropriate books without requiring any direct input from teachers. Big data tools, especially those operating on a powerful Hadoop architecture, can provide educators with the resources needed to analyze any number of issues and quickly return actionable insight. 

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