On 4th Nov we ran our first Data Skills Live Lesson where 350 learners came together from 15 Scottish local authorities to defend the rhino and learn some new data skills in the process.

Screenshot of live lesson

If you’re new to the idea of a live lesson on YouTube, don’t worry we will be running more of these over the coming months. Make sure you join our mailing list to find out when. You don’t need much prep to join a live lesson – just access to YouTube for the teacher and some way to access a web browser for your learners.

So how did we defend the rhino?

Collage of safari pack imagesOur challenge had us analysing 16 million images in order to find some beastly poachers that were getting ready to attack some rhinos in a safari park.  We were told that the average person can analyse 3 images per second.  Computers are a bit faster being able to process 14000 per second.  We quickly realised we had to work together using the data to stop a gang the poachers reach our ‘crash’ of rhinos.

Craig and David, our expert hosts, nudged us along in the live stream and connected us with national park updates. From national park headquarters Craig and David were watching our interaction with the browser tasks while recognising and celebrating specific schools and learners as they reached particular checkpoints.

Here comes the (data) science bit. Machine learning is not that tricky.  We took a bunch of data (in this case photos) and helped our computers understand the difference between safari images with people and without – supervised machine learning.  The more we trained our computers, the higher the rate of accuracy our computers achieved identifying people in images.  Improved accuracy in the model increased our confidence in making decisions based on the data.

Decorative image of live lesson animationCraig and David brought our models together using ensemble machine learning to analyse millions of safari photographs and identify where the poachers might be located.  We then visualised our safari park in order to tell our park ranger, Bokomoso, where to send the helicopters.

This Live Lesson was developed in partnership with Digital Skills Education’s Craig Steele and David Hewitson from A Big Egg who developed and hosted the session expertly. In addition to 350 learners from across Scotland, we were also joined by participants from France, Spain, Egypt and USA. Learning highlights (as described by learners):

  • how to use programs to make tasks faster and easier
  • that you can train the computer
  • I did not even know you could train a computer to recognise a human
  • that computers can be trained to identify certain images and apply that to large scale data
  • 87% said they would take part in another data skills live lesson.

We look forward to announcing our next live lesson in the coming weeks. Join our mailing list to make sure you receive details of our next event.

Related articles and websites

The following websites respond to some of teacher/learner queries we received about careers in data science and conservation.

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