Real-time data use in classrooms and other educational settings has gained a lot of attention in recent years. But the challenges to using and incorporating data effectively are still immense. Most of us are still in the prototype phase, trying to build new interfaces and curricula to find out what works. As a result, we spend a lot of time conducting needs assessments on what we know, what’s already out there and what we need to fulfill our goals and the needs of our audience.
A fellow observatory educator recently asked me what studies on using real-time data in ocean education I was aware of. So here’s a place to start.
- A few years ago we (Rutgers University) conducted a needs assessment for NOAA’s NERRS on Using Ocean Observing Systems in K-12 Education. While a bit dated, this is still one of the most comprehensive reports that I’m aware of, at least in this specific area. A lot of it’s recommendations are still quite valid, in particular the guidance on what datasets to start with, the need to keep interfaces easy to use, and the necessary supports for teachers.
- Danny Edelson, currently at National Geographic, has a number of good papers on how to incorporate the usage of real data in the classroom, particularly GIS-based data. Good starters are Learning for Use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities and Visualization for learners: A framework for adapting scientists’ tools.
- Shawn Rowe, at Oregon State, is actively researching how to make more effective visualizations. His team recently conducted a number of user studies on color scales and graph annotations which you can find in Seeing satellite data. Shawn also presented his insights in several COSEE NOW webinars that you can watch online.
- Along the same lines, a few years ago the COSEE NOW team conducted a usability test with a half-dozen fishermen in which we showed them various web sites and data visualizations to gauge how easy they were able to find their way around the web interfaces and understand the imagery.
- Finally, Carlton College has a collection of resources on Using Data in the Classroom and Teaching with Data, Simulations and Models, though much of it is geared towards undergraduate educators.
This isn’t a long list and I’m sure there are more studies or needs assessment reports out there. Please comment below if you know of any.
But I think it’s clear that we all still have a lot more to learn.