In the past, people have engaged with data predominantly through the medium of print. Data has tended to be presented in the form of tables or of static images such as graphs or bar charts. This has, of necessity been in two dimensions. Increasingly vast amounts of data are being created, stored and engaged with digitally. This affords the opportunity to engage with and manipulate data at any time and in any place through the use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablet computers and laptops, including in three dimensions. These changes can allow the correlation of a vast amount of rapidly changing data, and the display of these changes in real time. One only has to watch the weather forecast on TV, and to cntraast present day presentation, with live data from satellite and rain radar sources, with that of a couple of decades ago (see Met Service). In addition to data created by governments and organisations, individuals including students can create and share data, and contribute to crowd sourced databases. How are these changes relevant to teaching and learning today?
There are many innovations that drive these changes in the extent and ways that we can create and engage with data. Some examples are:
How can schools best exploit these new modes of data engagement to derive maximum benefit for schools, teachers and students?
How much do we know about and how much do we use and create open data sources in our schools?
How is your school providing for the opportunities that new ways of data engagement afford now and into the future? What technology to invest in, and how to manage student access?
What implications do these innovations have for planning, the curriculum and assessment?
- The days of relying exclusively on the printed text book as the main source of information in our classrooms are drawing to a close. Teachers need to be exploring how to use these new techonlogies, bearing in mind that they allow us and our students to interact with data in more immediate and authentic ways – gathering, creating and interpreting it in real time. This implies changes in the way that we teach – away from accepting and using only a limited source of printed information to one that accesses multipl sources that can be analysed and interpreted in many ways. This implies issues of authenticity, of data ownership, and what it means to be literate in a technological society.
- These technological innovations make it very easy for ourselves and students to contribute data as well as using and manipulating it. We need to consider this in our planning, where students and teachers – perhaps from several classes or dispersed locations – can collaborate in large scale data gathering activities. This data can then be pooled and worked on collaboratively.