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Like many other organisations, universities are realising how important it is to use data effectively.

As students use laptops and smartphones to support their studies, they leave behind frequent “digital footprints”: records of access to electronic library content, views of lecture videos, contributions to discussion forums, submission of assignments, and attendance on campus. Analysis of this data provides lecturers and educational researchers with new ways of understanding how students are learning. Just as other industries are employing the accumulation of data about their users to optimise business and provide better services, higher education institutions are using data to support students more effectively and to produce better courses.

Understanding how students learn is only one of the uses of the data. Data are also helping to personalise education through learning content that adapts to the user. Some systems at American universities can enable students to make more informed choices about what to study next, based on their career aspirations and predictions of their success in a particular course.

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