What is Data Analytics in schools? A definition by Piccano (2012) provides us with a perspective in analytics, which is defined as follows:
“The generic definition of analytics is similar to data-driven decision making. Essentially it is the science of examining data to draw conclusions and, when used in decision making, to present paths or courses of action. In recent years, the definition of analytics has gone further, however, to incorporate elements of operations research such as decision trees and strategy maps to establish predictive models and to determine probabilities for certain courses of action.” (p. 12)
We can also find many definitions of data analytics from internet sources. For example:
“Data analytics (DA) is the process of examining data sets in order to draw conclusions about the information they contain, increasingly with the aid of specialized systems and software. Data analytics technologies and techniques are widely used in commercial industries to enable organizations to make more-informed business decisions and by scientists and researchers to verify or disprove scientific models, theories and hypotheses.” http://searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com/definition/data-analytics
In order to visualise what key ideas are used in the definition of data analytics, we created a wordcloud from 9 Internet sources as follows:
As we can see, the word ‘business’ is the most frequently used in these definitions and descriptions of data analytics, and other words ‘information’, ‘process’, ‘statistical’, ‘predictive’ etc. follow. This echoes Piccano’s definitions of analytics above.
We also see the word ‘big’ in the above cloud, but data do not have to be big, although it is also stated, for example, that “data analytics is a general term for any type of processing that looks at historical data over time, but as the size of organizational data grows, the term data analytics is evolving to favor big data-capable systems” (https://www.informatica.com/services-and-training/glossary-of-terms/data-analytics-definition.html#fbid=XLAlnTWWkWy).
In summary, we would like to define data analytics as a process of ‘exploring data including big data to understand our world better, to draw conclusions, to make decisions and predictions, and to critically evaluate present/future paths or courses of action‘.
Picciano, A. G. (2012). The evolution of big data and learning analytics in American higher education. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(3), 9-20)