Data literacy is the set of skills that people need to ask questions, collect, analyse, interpret and communicate about data.
Data literacy is important because as it gets easier for computers to collect large amounts of data, it is increasingly used to make decisions in our everyday lives. From fitness devices to smart meters to You Tube recommendations, our personal data is used by computers and technology companies all the time. Every time we see news articles which report data and charts, we have to decide whether it is likely to be fact or ‘fake news’. We need to know how computers use data, as well as how to use data to help humans make better decisions.
Becoming data literate starts at the earliest stages of education. Our youngest children develop skills in data handling, finding patterns and collecting information. As they progress through school they are introduced to simple charts and surveys as well as beginning to be able to apply critical thinking to data they find such as a news story. Senior pupils go on to use software to learn how to analyse data and draw conclusions.
The aim of the Data Education in Schools programme is to increase these data skills in the children and young people in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region (ESESCR) and improve pathways to employment. The Data Education for Schools programme is part of a wider initiative called the DDI Skills Gateway. The aim of the gateway is to create a data literate workforce across the ESESCR with education opportunities for schools, colleges, universities and those already in employment.