On 29th March, 2017, a senior data scientist of the Hewlett-Packard Corporation (HP), Dr. Yang Dong, was invited to the Open University of China(OUC) and delivered an academic report entitled Analysis and Application of Big Data, which attracted about 50 teachers from OUC’s various departments. OUC’s vice president, Li Linshu, attended the meeting and presented a souvenir to Mr. Yang Dong on behalf of the OUC.

Yang Dong, from a practitioner’s point of view, introduced the denotation and connotation of big data, its origin, types and myths, and the application and research of data sciences. In regards to the OUC’s specific circumstances, he pointed out that, just like the field of electronic commerce, we cannot understand our clients without data. For online education, we shall never really understand the students without big data. Yang Dong further elaborated on the major value and function of big data to online education. By integrating his own experience, he vividly described a number of big data application cases in business, which helped the audience understand the tremendous value of big data. Yang Dong also offered advice for the OUC regarding its large data plan in the short and long term, including analysis and application of online education big data, implementation of personnel cultivation and training for big data, and providing big data services for online education, etc.

Yang Dong graduated from the Department of Statistics at Harvard University and currently he is a senior data scientist and research manager at HP’s Silicon Valley headquarters in California, USA. He has rich knowledge and experience in customer insight analysis, data mining, statistical modeling, machine learning and other fields. He worked in some of the world's top 500 enterprises, including the Ricoh Group and eBay, engaging in the management of software product research and development and market analysis for enterprises. In the early years, he worked in the Policy Research Office in China’s Ministry of Education.

The lecture is a debut of a series of lectures on educational big data planned by the OUC’s Engineering Research Centre for Technology Integration and Application of E-Learning, Ministry of Education. These lectures were designed to implement the requirements of “Increasing efforts to promote the Construction of Big Data and Learning Behaviour Analysis Centres” proposed in the 13th Five-Year Plan for OUC Reform and Construction (OUC’s No. 18 document in 2016), and to advance the construction of the OUC’s big data centre. As a result big data will better serve the OUC’s teaching and management work..

By Wei Shunping, OUC