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EdTech: Big Data Analytics To Revolutionize Online Learning

Ian Myatt, director of educational enterprise at the University of Birmingham, discusses how big data analytics will change the way we learn


Wed Jan 10 2018

Technologies like big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) are set to revolutionize the online learning space.

In March 2017, Birmingham Business School announced it would be working on a new research project, to explore how big data can be used to drive more personalized learning online.

For Ian Myatt, director of educational enterprise at the University of Birmingham, big data analytics could significantly transform the way people learn, but it should be harnessed in the right way to be effective.


“There’s huge potential,” he says. “We strive to provide all students with an excellent experience, but traditional teaching methods make it difficult to customize for personal preferences. However, with online delivery and clever use of analytics, we can more readily accommodate individual learning styles and help them identify areas where they might benefit from a greater focus.”

“Data analytics will help students become more reflective of what they are learning and how they are learning it, allowing them to prioritize their time more effectively.”

At the University of Birmingham, Ian manages a portfolio of online learning initiatives including the delivery of the business school’s AMBA-accredited Online MBA and the Online MSc International Business.

Before Birmingham, Ian spent 15 years at the BBC, masterminding the development of online learning platforms like BBC Bitesize and iWonder. He says that there are many parallels between the challenges the BBC faced with the growth of digital media and the opportunities for distance learning within higher education.

“The BBC, like traditional correspondence courses, used to rely on a linear broadcast model. The same content would be distributed to everyone at the same time without any direct two-way interaction. Digital technology has now enabled distance learning to become far more interactive making it more comparable with the face-to-face campus experience.”

“The next step is how we better utilize learning technologies to create a more seamless blend between the physical and virtual learning environments in which we operate.”

Birmingham is building a state-of-the-art collaborative teaching laboratory which will bring together practical teaching activities across a broad range of science and engineering disciplines.

With a focus on the latest educational technologies, students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with theoretical concepts and practical techniques online before entering the physical laboratory, facilitating more enquiry-based experiments. Birmingham’s innovations team is also exploring how virtual and augmented reality can be integrated into the learning experience.

“We shouldn’t be delivering technology for technologies sake though,” says Ian. “The idea of students as co-creators is really important. They are best placed to provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t work. There’s no point in us trying to introduce new ways of doing things if it’s to the detriment of the current student experience.”

There’s no doubt new technologies are changing the way people learn. Birmingham’s Online MBA and the Online MSc International Business are obvious examples. And some business schools are increasingly moving away from a lecture-based study method towards learning by doing, learning by working in groups, even learning by playing games online.

“Universities should definitely be exploring the use of gamification, AI and analytics to inform how we deliver learning material and encourage people to engage with it. But there’s no one way of doing things—there is an increasing diversity of teaching styles that everyone will benefit from differently,” Ian continues.

“What I hope we are doing is extending the range of learning opportunities available and making them more accessible.”

Student Reviews

Birmingham Business School - University of Birmingham




On Campus

An amazing experience

Great, knowledgeable faculty with a beautiful campus. Lots of societies and clubs to choose from in accordance with your interest. One can also discover scholarship opportunities here. The course is perfectly designed and the career services at the uni are very helpful




On Campus

The beautiful campus and teaching expertise.

Overall the University of birmingham is just an incredible institution. From the array of expertise teachings and how phenomenal the campus is definitely enhances its beauty and is enriched with the amazing resources and incredible people that are always willing to help and make you feel welcomed everywhere you go. I would 100% recommend the University of Birmingham to be one of the best universities out there and through not only the various courses that they offer but all the social societies definitely adds to the fun and great opportunities that it provides




On Campus

Exceptional Support for international Students

Exceptional Support for International Students As an international student, my experience at the University of Birmingham has been nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to the outstanding support provided for international students. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the exceptional support I've received during my time here. From the moment I arrived on campus, it was evident that UoB prioritizes the well-being and success of its international students. Here are some key aspects of the support I've received: 1. Orientation Programs: The university's comprehensive orientation programs helped me acclimate to campus life, navigate administrative processes, and understand the academic system. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, thanks to the informative sessions and friendly staff. 2. Academic Advising: The academic advisors for international students are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. They assisted me in creating a personalized academic plan, selecting courses, and understanding degree requirements. Their guidance ensured that I stayed on the right track academically. 3. Language Support: UoB offers exceptional language support services, including English language courses and conversation partners. These resources were invaluable in improving my language skills and building confidence in my communication abilities. 4. Cultural Integration: The university fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, making it easy for international students to feel like part of the community. There are numerous cultural clubs, events, and workshops that allow us to connect with fellow students and celebrate our diverse backgrounds. 5. Mental Health and Counseling Services: Recognizing the challenges that international students may face, the university provides excellent mental health and counseling services. It's comforting to know that support is available when needed, and these services are respectful of cultural differences. 6. Career Services: UoB offers exceptional career services tailored to international students. From resume workshops to job fairs, they've been instrumental in helping me prepare for my career post-graduation. The university's strong network of alumni has also been a valuable resource. 7. Visa and Immigration Assistance: Navigating the complexities of visa and immigration regulations can be daunting, but the university's dedicated staff provided guidance and assistance throughout the process. Their expertise made the experience seamless. 8. Housing Support: Securing suitable housing can be a challenge for international students, but the university offers assistance in finding on-campus housing options with flexible payments. This support ensured that I had a safe and comfortable place to live. 9. Financial Aid and Scholarships: UoB offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. Their commitment to making education accessible is commendable, they also provide financial support for graduation through the guild of students.




On Campus

student experience

I highly recommend the University of Birmingham. I think the school environment is very friendly to international students. I was able to get guidance and help from students in the school. I was also able to get support and guidance from the professional team on my career path. I would recommend the University of Birmingham to first-time international students and Masters students.




On Campus

There is always somebody to help!

The university respects the culture and background of their highly diverse student. It carters to everybody's need and puts its student first. It tries to the make the student feel at home and helps them deal with the university life.




On Campus


I love studying Pharmacy at Birmingham and would absolutely recommend it, especially because of the variety in every aspect of the course. Firstly, the variety of people you meet from all areas around the country, and even countless others from outside the country. Each person has a different background and experiences creating a melting pot of personalities to interact with. Next, the lessons - there are numerous types of lessons we encounter on a weekly basis from lectures to dissections to a computer workshops. Additionally, specific to medical degrees, I have 7 placements annually in hospital, community, and GP pharmacies. The only lack of variety in the pharmacy course is the classrooms since there are limited number we can use and the medical school is separate from the main campus. The only part I don't enjoy about pharmacy is the distances and unreliability of public transport in Birmingham. Living in the vale, the university is a long 25-minute walk away and my closest shop is over 10-20 minutes to walk. Although there are closer accommodations, I really love my flat with its modern decor, large room, and social aspect of the shared kitchen.




On Campus

Experience at University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham has been an outstanding university. They have provided complete support during COVID-19. The university is incredible when accessing support with mental health. I currently study criminology at the university of Birmingham. The course has been brilliant, with constant support from lectures and tutors to ensure that you achieve the best grade possible. I could not recommend University of Birmingham more!




On Campus


Great campus for studying with kind and professional staff and the campus is very well connected to the city center. There were so many people who wanted to enroll in the course that they had to queue for a new course for six months in advance. The classes were always crowded, but the professors never let anyone through. I love this uni




On Campus

A very welcoming uni

This university is regarded as one of the best in the world. They provide a welcoming environment that enhances the lives of the students because each one of them has a sense of community and a desire to study.






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