Introducing data literacy

In a Q&A with Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy, Qlik, we look at how data literacy can be incorporated into classrooms and how some are doing it now.
Mar 4, 2020
Data literacy
We need to know how to interpret and apply data

In a Q&A with Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy, Qlik, we look at how data literacy can be incorporated into classrooms and how some are doing it now.

Are any schools doing data teaching well, what are they doing?
When looking at the curriculums of schools internationally, we see gaps between the skills being taught and those that will be needed when these young people leave school, particularly when it comes to data. According to our latest research, in partnership with Accenture, just one-fifth of the global workforce report being confident in their data literacy skills. At the same time, more than one-third (37 per cent) of all employees believe that data literacy training would make them more productive and 22 per cent believe that it would reduce stress.

With this in mind, curriculums across the globe should already be planning a transformation to teach the skills that are relevant to children and young people, now and into the future. Without this, schools will fail their students when it comes to data literacy and preparing students for the world after compulsory education.

That said, there are some schools teaching data well. For example, Macquarie University in Sydney is enhancing the data literacy skills of students and enabling them to confront real-world data challenges through a dedicated program powered by Qlik. Qlik’s platform and program gives students access to valuable resources to learn and succeed with data. And, through this type of hands-on experience and applied learning, students are better equipped for the future world of work.

What part of the curriculum could data teaching be introduced with and integrate with?
Data literacy sits somewhere in-between numerical reasoning and language studies and includes several components; for example, from data fluency (which includes using the language, vocabulary, and conversational skills that go along with data) right way through to analytics skills (which involves using and developing analytical thinking skills and utilising proper problem solving techniques).

Along with numerical reasoning and language studies, both of great importance, data and analytics should be introduced when covering the scientific method. When people apply thoughts, questions, and curiosity to data, being able to make smart data-informed decisions is vital. Helping individuals understand applying curiosity, hypotheses and more is helpful for students to know and apply to their schooling and careers.

How do you equip teachers to deliver data teaching?
Equipping teachers with the right tools and knowledge is critical to the successful implementation of data literacy as a subject in schools. And, this usually stems from government investment when it comes to developing the national syllabus.

There are also a huge number of free tools out there for teachers to use. For example, the Qlik Academic Program is a free program for professors and students providing them with the software and learning resourcess to deliver or experience a full data analytics curriculum. This includes instructor-led content, in-class activities, sample data sets, and student assignments all housed in an online learning portal. The program has been rolled out across Australia and New Zealand and provides universities including Macquarie, Monash, Melbourne, Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, access to tools and services to help both lecturers and students advance their analytical and data literacy skills.

What do you think assessment and classroom programs might look like, how could they be delivered?
Again, there are already free tools out there to assess and progress in data literacy. And they’re similar to existing assessments and programs you might have seen in numeracy or literacy.

For example, last year The Data Literacy Project introduced the first globally recognised certification for data literacy that enables individuals to document and demonstrate their data literacy skills. The free certification has been developed by leading academics and data literacy specialists to enable individuals at every stage in their data literacy journey.

After learning skills through the Qlik Academic Program students can test their fundamental skills and applied knowledge by completing a two-part qualification exam. Students can earn either a Business Analyst or Data Architect Qualification and receive a printable certificate and a digital badge to share on resumes and other social sites. This serves as a key component in validating a student’s progress in the program and empowering them to apply these skills in their future careers.