Data Literacies at Digital Pedagogy Lab

We are pleased to announce the addition of a fifth track at the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2017 Institute in Fredericksburg, VA. Discounted registration for Data Literacies is now open.

“The future of digital culture — yours, mine, and ours — depends on how well we learn to use the media that have infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives. … [T]he ways people use new media in the first years of an emerging communication regime can influence the way those media end up being used and misused for decades to come.” ~ Howard Reingold, Net Smart

We live in an age of information glut, and our spheres of attention have become flooded with information — too much to know what to do with. While thoughtful educators have always seen their role as something more than (or other than) the transfer of information, that reality is even more stark now. Our students do not need more information nearly as much as they need an increased ability to deal with information critically and with nuance. Or even simply the awareness of what information to ignore. As is clear from the work of researchers like Rheingold, David PakmanChris Rubin, Zeynep Tufekci, Cathy Davidson, and others, it’s not those who control the flow of information, but those who can manage their own attention, who will thrive in this media landscape.

We are also leaking data everywhere we go — from our phones, our web browsers, our ISPs, our e-textbooks, our learning management systems, medical advice websites, highway toll transponders, our face’s presence in front of a camera (even cameras in classrooms). While it’s never been easier to create and publish media that has a potentially global audience, it’s also never been harder to control who has access to data that we’d rather keep private. In fact, it’s never been harder to figure out which parts of our lives are being treated as “data” by the businesses and systems around us.

Learning how to create and consume information critically, to control our own data and who can access it, to filter through the hype and the overly dystopian rhetoric surrounding new technology, to manage our attention, to resist the purposeful spread of disinformation … these are essential literacies for our time. But how can we teach them? After all, they are new to all of us.

That’s the focus of the track I’ll be teaching at this summer’s Digital Pedagogy Lab — Data Literacies. In this track, we will walk through the basics of data science — including a (light) introduction to coding — as it applies to education. We’ll learn what many of the buzzwords of artificial intelligence and machine learning mean, so we can respond to press releases and marketing copy with a greater understanding of what’s behind the hype. We will also engage ways to help students grow in their data literacy in a variety of contexts, including the evaluation of information, the combating of disinformation online, the managing of attention, and control of their personal data. In the end, we’ll all come away with a more informed and nuanced ability to approach decisions regarding educational technology and institutional data policies.

These issues aren’t just for faculty and students. Not only do they impact society as a whole, but even within education, there are more influencers and stakeholders than just those who inhabit the classroom. With that in mind, I’m designing this track with faculty, students, instructional designers, and administrators in mind, as well as data scientists and software developers working in educational technology — anyone who is interested in learning about the relationship of data science, critical digital pedagogy, and the goals of liberal education.

As Howard Reingold writes, we have an opportunity to shape how these forces will “end up being used and misused for decades to come,” and to involve our students in that process. And if bell hooks is right that “the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy,” then what we do in that space has tremendous potential to reach society. So please join us this summer as we engage ways to harness that potential.

Register for Data Literacies — $200 Discount until June 27

Kris Shaffer

Among with Digital Pedagogy Lab

Kris Shaffer is a data scientist and Technical Director, Web Intelligence for Yonder.

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