Colin Archibald – “Big Data” is not ready for Valencia

Professor Colin Archibald, computer programming professor, used part of his University Club of Orlando Chair in Advanced Computer Technology this year to explore the world of “big data.”

“In this project colinarchibaldwe explored the emerging field of big data. Also called data analytics, and closely related to other emerging fields in computing, such as predictive analytics and business intelligence. Big data is not a well-defined field of study. In fact, most of what is called big data is really the rebranding of well-known mathematics. The new part is that we have data being collected from many different sources, including from a myriad of internet-connected devices.”


Dr. Archibald attended an intensive three-day course during the Christmas break. This course was offered by Learning Tree International, and called Introduction to Big Data. This was a very valuable course – although what was learned wasn’t what was expected!

One of the most valuable lessons was that the computer science department has determined that “the wme-and-earl-1eek long, intensive, boot-camp style courses are not the most effective way to learn this material”; they chose to go a different route, and purchase some online video courses that would help people in the computer science department learn this new technology. One plus is that taking the courses on an ad-hoc basis means that they can take these courses as needed and as time allows, without disrupting their usual day-to-day teaching.

A series of several video courses were purchased instead, making it a very high learning-value. Additionally, they generated some interesting discussion among the advanced students. One student did his project for the honors program on “big data” (Correlation or Causation).

Although the original objective was to create a course for Valencia programming students in big data, that proved to be a bit beyond the reach of faculty and students at this time.  Dr. Archibald says “We’ll keep an eye on it. When it is a bit more solid, and a lot less ‘hype,’ we’ll have another look at whether it should be part of the curriculum.”