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Efficient Computation of Key Performance Indicators in a Distance Learning University

By Riccardo Pecori, Vincenzo Suraci and Pietro Ducange


Purpose – Managing efficiently Educational Big Data, produced by Virtual Learning Environments, is becoming a compelling necessity, especially for those universities providing distance learning. This paper proposes a possible framework to compute efficiently Key Performance Indicators, summarizing the trends of students’ academic careers, by using Educational Big Data. \ud Design/Methodology/Approach – The framework is designed and implemented in a distributed fashion. The parallel computation of the indicators through Map and Reduce nodes is carefully described, together with the workflow of data, from the educational sources to a NoSQL database and to the learning analytics engine.\ud Findings – This framework was tested at eCampus University, an Italian distance learning institution, and it was able to significantly reduce the amount of time needed to compute Key Performance Indicators. Moreover, by implementing a proper data representation dashboard, it resulted in a useful help and support for educational decisions and performance analyses, as well as for revealing possible criticalities.\ud Originality/value – The framework we propose integrates for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, a set of modules, designed and implemented in a distributed fashion, in order to compute Key Performance Indicators for distance learning institutions. It can be used to analyze the dropouts and the outcomes of students and, therefore, to evaluate the performances of universities, which can, in turn, propose effective improvements towards enhancing the overall e-learning scenario

Topics: e-Learning, Virtual Learning Environment, Educational Big Data, Learning Analytics, MapReduce, Key Performance Indicators
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