Tag Archives: Information literacy

Becoming data literate

The NOVA library staff helps students learn about career options that suit their skills and interests. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a significant number of students exploring careers involving data: Data scientist, data analyst, data architect, data engineer, and more.

As we progress towards a data economy, data literacy is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, no matter your profession. Gartner predicts that “by 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value.”

In the 21st Century, everyone needs a certain level of data literacy competence. Everyone consumes data (discrete stats) as they read news articles or blog posts. Sometimes data are mentioned in the text; other times presented in a chart or graph. At some point, most of us will have to compile data from multiple sources. To accomplish this, we’ll all need to master:

  • When to use mean or medium, averages or ranges, frequencies or percentages
  • How to distinguish correlation from causation
  • Determine when it’s appropriate to use a pie or bar chart, line or clustering graph
  • Where to find (and how to cite) data/statistics.
Data literacy
Related elements of data literacy.

What is data literacy?

Statistical literacy is the ability to read and interpret numeric information, whether presented in text, table, or graphic format. “Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.”

Data literate individuals can find, evaluate, analyze, use, and create data, statistics, and visualizations responsibly. It’s important to not only be a good data consumer—critically assessing the data presented—but be able to communicate data by putting it into context for others. In addition to reading and working with data, one must be effective when communicating data, including responsibly reporting the results of a study and presenting these results in tables and graphics to make data digestible and easy to understand.

Data literacy includes the ability to:

  • Assess data sources and collection methods
  • Provide context for raw numbers via tables, charts, and graphs
  • Tell a story through data.

Ethical use of data includes not cherry-picking data to offer in support of a hypothesis, using a scale proportionate to the data, i.e., not manipulating the y axis of a graph.

Data literacy resources at the NOVA libraries

The books in our collection are shelved according to the Library of Congress (LC) classification scheme. All books about data are shelved using the call number QA76.9; those about statistics use QA276. If you’re not in the library and want to access an e-book on data or statistics, go to our homepage and type the call number (QA76.9 or QA276) into the search box. Our catalog will reveal the titles you have access to online via our library subscriptions. If you happen to be in another library that uses the LC classification scheme, you’ll know which shelf to peruse there too.

Additional resources

Academic librarians point students to creditable resources covering coursework delivered at their institutions. The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus has created a Data Literacy Teaching Toolkit, replete with instructional activities and resources for faculty to use as they teach data literacy skills.

In its Science and Information Literacy Resources Guide, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) has devoted a section to Data Information Literacy Resources and Publications.  Individual institutions have created Resource Guides, such as Rutgers University Libraries Data Literacy and University Libraries, Washington University in St. Louis Data Literacies.

If you want to learn more about creating elegant and impactful visuals, take a look at the resources available on the Information is beautiful website. Another fun site to check what’s wrong with so many graphics is Junk Charts. Finally, as journalists often have to create their own charts, there’s a resource that they use, The Journalists’ ToolBox.

How data literate are you?

When reading a news article or research study, can you assess data sources and collection methods? Put your data literacy to the test at https://thedataliteracyproject.org/assessment.

If you could use a refresher, the video tutorials from Eastern Michigan University librarians provide an overview of data literacy and some of the elements discussed in this blog, such as:

Finally, DataProfessor created a series of data science videos in 2020 on YouTube. He also points you to other data scientist videos so that you can access “the best.” Check them out.

October 24-30 is Global Media and Information Literacy Week

Each year, the world celebrates the last week in October as Media Literacy Week, promoting media, digital, and information literacy. It’s a time for reviewing progress made towards UNESCO’s Media and Information Literacy for All programme. A list of celebrations for this year, global media and information literacy awards 2021, and additional resources can be accessed here.

The UN General Assembly resolution commemorating this week cites the need for disseminating factual, timely, targeted, clear, accessible, multilingual, and science-based information. The resolution notes the digital divide and data inequalities existing in the world and recommends addressing them “by improving people’s competencies to seek, receive and impart information in the digital realm.

What is Media Literacy?

According to Common Sense Media, “media literacy is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they are sending.” This requires learning to think critically; becoming smarter consumers of products and information; recognizing opinions, points of view, and multiple perspectives of topics; creating media responsibly; understanding the role of media in our culture; and appreciating an author’s goal and possible biases.

A subset of media literacy, “digital literacy specifically applies to media from the internet, smartphones, video games, and other nontraditional sources,” including skills and ethical obligations when creating digital media. For more, consult this Media Literacy Now video.

How can you participate in Media Literacy Week events?

Media Literacy Week calls attention to media literacy education through events and activities across the country and around the world. Each day of Media Literacy Week celebrates one of the five components of media literacy: Access, Analyze, Evaluate, Create, and Act.

In the United States, Media Literacy Week is hosted by the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). The organization is “dedicated to advancing media literacy education in the United States.” The organization’s mission “is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education.” The NAMLE site has media literacy resources for students; educators, including a link to the association’s Journal of Media Literacy Education, an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal; and parents, such as A Parent’s Guide to Media Literacy. For more about the State of Media Literacy Education in the U.S., consult the NAMLE Report, Snapshot 2019.

Events to consider attending

Many Media Literacy Week events are being held online this year. Daily events throughout the week sponsored by NAMLE can be found here. You might also check out the events sponsored by Canada’s MediaSmarts, such as Understanding Algorithms and their Impacts (Monday, October 25, 7-8PM via Zoom) or the Identifying and Discovering Resources Escape Room, and more.  Additional MediaSmarts resources are available for parents and teachers.

On Wednesday, October 20, Pen America (pen.org) hosts an interactive media literacy workshop, Media Literacy in Tribal Communities and Protecting Collective Health. Register for the 3PM webinar. https://pen.org/event/media-literacy-tribal-communities/ .

Additional media literacy resources

NOVA librarians consult many media literacy resources as we prepare to deliver library instruction to classes on-campus or via Zoom. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Center for Media Literacy Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview & Orientation Guide To Media Literacy Education, 2d edition

Free and open online courses are available for self-paced learning about Media and Information Literacy

California Department of Education Media Literacy Resources for the Classroom

Monmouth University library’s Media Literacy & Misinformation Research Guide

News Literacy Project

Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers by Mike Caulfield

If you can think of another resource, or a Media Literacy Week event you’ve enjoyed, post a comment and we’ll add it to the list.