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Data literacy: challenges and approaches

One area of digital capability which has been flagged up as a key challenge at the moment is around data literacy for both staff and students. Although data literacy is most closely associated with information literacy, it cuts across many of the different areas of digital literacy. For example, in the model we use in the Developing digital literacies infokit, data literacy is a key aspect of digital scholarship and media literacy, as well as information literacy. It also cuts across three of Jisc’s current codesign challenges: Research at risk and Effective learning analytics as well as Building digital capability.

With the increasing use of learner analytics and various types of data-driven dashboards to support decision making, it is crucial that the users of such systems understand what the data they’re presented with is and isn’t saying, and its limitations. We’re running an interdisciplinary session on this at Jisc Digifest on 9-10 March, bringing together perspectives on data from learning, teaching and student support; research skills and research data management; and learner analytics and business intelligence.

To feed into that session, I’d be really keen to hear of:

  • examples of data literacy challenges that have presented themselves in your university, college or other educational setting – how was this observed, which groups of staff or students are involved, what problems surfaced, what is the impact if it isn’t addressed?
  • examples of how you are addressing data literacy issues – what works? How do you know?

Just a few lines is fine in the first instance – it doesn’t need to be any kind of formal write-up. Equally, if you don’t recognise this as a current challenge, let me know. Use the comments field below or contact me on I’ll share back a summary in a future post.

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