What's Big Data’s Role in Next Year's Trends for Higher Education?

11 February 2022 00:00

Next Year's Trends

Big data is an understatement given what it describes. Take the amount of data in the world a year ago— approximately 44 zettabytes. That’s a “44” with 21 zeros after it. Still trying to wrap your mind around that number? Picture this: 44 zettabytes equate to more stars than in the observable universe. The pace of data creation continues to accelerate too, which explains why data makes an appearance in every 2022 higher education trend covered in our newly released report.

If you saw our trend report preview post, you’ll recognize the first two trends:

  • Growth in data-oriented curriculum and degrees
  • The rise of Python as the premier programming language for data science

While we noted the importance expanding data-oriented curriculum and degrees to prepare students for the workforce of the future, we didn’t touch on another reason for this expansion—reskilling and upskilling the current workforce.

As author and data science expert Piyanka Jain told MIT Sloan, “Everybody needs data literacy, because data is everywhere. It’s the new currency, it's the language of the business. We need to be able to speak that.” Offering flexible courses to accommodate non-traditional students and developing certifications for key competencies related to big data could become a competitive differentiator for universities in 2022.

Of course, data literacy doesn’t mean every student (traditional or not) needs to know Python—Trend 2 in our report—but it’s important to note why Python has earned a top spot as a data science programming language. Python’s simple, easy-to-understand syntax means a shorter learning curve. Plus, the substantial number of Python libraries available can help get programming projects off the ground quickly.


3 more academic research trends dominated by big data

Big data is front and center in the next trend covered by the report too.

Making notes next to laptop

Remote Learning Skyrockets & Democratizes Data Science

When the pandemic accelerated demand for remote learning, universities faced many hurdles. But as they shifted to Zoom lectures, added digital workspaces, and worked out connectivity kinks, universities recognized untapped potential. The convenience and flexibility of remote learning breaks down other barriers, extending benefits of big data to a wider audience.

Lines Blur Between Data Lakes & Data Warehouses

Another trend hinges on how universities manage big data. If the data volume being generated seems mind boggling, imagine the storage requirements. Rather than constant reinvestment in IT infrastructure, universities will speed up their migration to the cloud. In addition, data storage and management will become more fluid. Rather than data warehouses organized for specific operational needs, more universities will adopt data lakes that ingest streams of diverse types and sources of data. Pooling unstructured, semi-structured and structured data will allow more in-depth analysis need to support academic research.

Corporate/Academic Big Data Collaborations Gain Momentum

Companies have a vested interested as universities build out data science capabilities. The most in-demand careers now and for the foreseeable future are related to big data—data scientists, data analysts, data engineers. More companies will partner with universities on curriculum development to help ensure new hires can get off to a quick start. Likewise, collaborations between universities and other organizations will drive innovation in 2022—whether developing new products/services or tackling climate change and other global challenges.

We’ve just scratched the surface on these trends. Download the trend report to take a closer look at these topics.

Nexis Uni® and Nexis® Data Lab can help universities make the most of these trends—and whatever else emerges in 2022. Connect with us to arrange a free trial or demo.

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