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Defining Data Literacy

Are you data literate? How about data savvy? Does data driven describe you best?
We have a lot of ways to talk about the importance of data skills in the modern workforce. But we are just beginning to identify the specific skills and knowledge that comprise data literacy.
Next week, ODI and IBM will be teaming up for a three-day workshop to discuss what it means to be "data literate" in the era of big data. Guided by EDC’s Joyce Malyn-Smith and Joe Ippolito, a panel of experts from business and education—including some of the same experts who helped us identify what it meant to be a big data-enabled specialist—will work together to develop a detailed picture of what a data literate individual knows and is able to do. With this knowledge, they will draft the beginnings of a data literacy framework for K-12 classrooms.
This is an ambitious project to be sure, and it comes at a critical moment for U.S. education. Today's students simply need to be more data literate than previous generations. Some colleges and universities are starting to adapt to this reality, with many adding courses in data analytics to their catalogues.
Little, however, has changed in most K-12 classrooms. This may reflect the fact that “data literacy” falls into what has traditionally been a “no-man’s land” between science, mathematics, and computer science.
I am hopeful that this workshop will help to jumpstart this conversation, and am optimistic that we will make real progress towards a new vision for data instruction in schools.
I look forward to reporting the results of this workshop next month. Stay tuned!


Randy Kochevar, Director
The EDC Oceans of Data Institute

Portrait of Randy Kochevar
Looking for classroom activities that help build data literacy in real-world contexts? Try these lessons from the EDC Earth Science curriculum:

• Looking at Climate Data
• Patterns in Surface Currents
• The Peru Current
• Water Running Dry
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