March 17, 2010

Why understanding data must take its place in new media literacies

As a Commissioner with 4iP I'll admit to having struggled to convince those digital media producers around me that if only they could produce worthwhile data projects we'd fund them. "Why is data so important?" they'd ask, thinking of it as some kind of geeky pass-time, rather than something storytellers would use.

I'm going through the same process at the moment interviewing storytellers, one of whom will win £10.5k to spend six months uncovering stories the data tells us in the Revealing Stories programme I devised. Learning how to make data useful isn't easy - it's the latest digital storytelling skill with which the digital media world is struggling and for which the education systems of the world hold so much promise.

The above video, of Sir Tim Berners-Lee explaining in five minutes a few open-data-justifying stories, I think the reasons for us to rethink how we approach data are clear. Take just one example, where data revealed an American city was racist in its provision of drinking water. In schools, where does this lesson fit? It's not purely mathematics. It's not just language arts. It's not solely geography or history. It's not possible in the isolation of a graphics class.

For Scottish teachers open data represents the ultimate in Curriculum for Excellence opportunities. For educators the world over it represents cross-curricular projects with realworld application. For the digital media industries it represents another, emerging form of storytelling as important, and potentially as change-making, as film.


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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