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Data is a Team Sport: Enabling Learning

- June 6, 2017 in Community, Event report

Data is a Team Sport is a series of online conversations held with data literacy practitioners in mid-2017 that explores the ever evolving data literacy eco-system.

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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.

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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 talked to us about how his experience in leading workshops and data capacity building programmes led to the creation of while Lucy discussed the rationale behind School of Data shifting its focus from online curriculum to fellowships.

In order for his participants to begin to understand how to work with data, Rahul asks them to  create drawings about what a dataset tells them. He then asks the participants create a gallery of their drawings and encourages them to critically assess each other’s work.. This process of having workshop participants create and examine data visualisations led to the creation of, a set of tools specifically designed allow users to visualise datasets in a number of different ways.

Lucy, recalled School of Data’s initial struggles developing an online curriculum that attempted to provide ‘how-to’s’ on a diverse set of data tools. Eventually, through focus groups and testing of the curriculum, School of Data began to understand that this tool centred approach was unlikely to effectively serve School of Data’s target audience. As a result, the team shifted their strategy and began to focus their attention on developing the capacity of future data trainers. This ultimately lead School of Data to create the Fellowship Programme, a programmed designed to take high potential individuals and build their capacity to be data literacy trainers and leaders.

Finally, both shared their thoughts on building data literacy at the organisational level. They agreed that a common mistake made by organisations is thinking about data use as being exclusively part of the IT function of the organisation. Rather, when they both look at ways to build an active data culture within organisations, where staff converse about and engage with data, rather than take a passive approach such as producing dashboards.

They wanted to plug:

  • Rahul is building a co-hort around further development of 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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