Data is a Team Sport: Enabling Learning

June 6, 2017 in Community, Event report, Research

Our podcast series that explores the ever evolving data literacy eco-system. Cut and paste this link into your podcast app to subscribe: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:311573348/sounds.rss or find us in the iTunes Store.

In this episode we speak with two veteran data literacy practitioners who have been involved with directly engaging learners to get beyond spreadsheets to build confidence and take agency in their own learning.

Our guests:

  • Rahul Bhargava is a researcher and technologist specializing in civic technology and data literacy. He creates interactive websites used by hundreds of thousands, playful educational experiences across the globe, and award-winning visualizations for museum settings. As a research scientist at the MIT Center for Civic Media, Rahul leads technical development on projects ranging from interfaces for quantitative news analysis to platforms for crowd-sourced sensing.
  • Lucy Chambers initially embarked on a career as a journalist, she took a few turns which lead to a career at Open Knowledge teaching journalists how and why to work with data. She was one of the editors of the Data Journalism Handbook. She later lead the highly successful School of Data programme which extended technical training to non-profit organisations. Lately, she has focussed on delivery of software projects as a product manager. Most recently, she has been working in West Africa on health related software.

Notes from this episode

Rahul described methods to data novices to think more creatively by drawing and using a gallery of their artwork to build confidence to think more critically. He says that this experience is what led to the creation of databasic.io, a website designed specifically to engage learners.

Lucy tells of School of Data’s initial struggles with setting up a one-size fits all online curriculum. They learned through focus groups and testing that a tool-based approach was not helpful or achievable. Instead they needed a people based approach. They then turned to developing a fellowship programme which is very much at the core of the School of Data network.

Both of our guests had strong opinions about building data literacy culture in organisations. A common mistake is made by letting the IT Department provide data training.  Organisations often produce unhelpful data metrics and dashboards that don’t actually help staff get a full picture of progress.

Gaps in the Data Literacy EcoSystem:

  • Toolbuilders not understanding and not building for learners.
  • NGO’s not testing out data driven messages with their audiences before they release them.

Adjusting to a ‘post-fact’ world means:

  • We need to make sure that people understand that data is not necessarily truth, that it is often used as rhetoric and that it carries bias. Data sets should have a biography attached.
  • Narrative wins, so the data presentation methods where the audience is bombarded with facts and figures just doesn’t work. We have to spend more time pulling out the compelling narrative from the data.

They wanted to plug:

  • Rahul is building a co-hort around further development of databasics.io. Ping him via twitter to get more information on that.
  • Lucy’s blog is Tech to Human and she writes about her work and what she’s learning. She is working on a project for MySociety called EveryPolitician and writing about it on Medium.

Readings/Resources they find inspiring for data literacy work.

View the full online conversations:

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