Data literacy is increasingly important

Tracking, gathering, and storing data has become easier; buzz words like "big data" have been around for a few years and areas where data analytics are of value continue to be seen in the marketplace. From providing insights on what the public at large is searching for on Google to predicting how people like their coffee, data has exponentially growing use in the world. Charles Duhigg's The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business nicely illustrated how Target, for example, has generated a ton of sales by smartly targeting customers with customized ads. Target does this by applying data algorithms to massive amounts of consumer behavior data to discover consumer patters – both intuitive and non-intuitive. (Click here to learn more about how Target was able to figure out that a teen girl was pregnant before her father did).

Wearable technologies are a growing source for data curation and provide opportunities for learning

Dr. Victor Lee of Utah State University has been conducting research on how elementary school-aged kids have been advancing their data knowledge through wearing and gathering personal activity data from wearable technologies. Dr. Lee recently presented some of his research at USU. He pointed out the potential benefits and learning opportunities young science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students could be exposed to through interacting with these new devices. 

A number of points stood out to me from Dr. Lee's presentation

  • The current approaches for teaching data in STEM are insufficient
  • Working with data is challenging – it requires specific tools
  • We have the opportunity to do better at teaching STEM with emerging wearable technologies 
  • One young student who had access to wearable technology in her class self directed research on whether a Fitbit was more accurate than an iPhone app. She concluded that the FItbit was more accurate at tracking physical activity. 
  • Elementary students discovered that adult resting heart rate increases as adults age by conducting their own research and monitoring various teachers' heart rates

Using Health Tracking Devices to Improve Data Literacy

If you've got a few minutes, take some time to watch Dr. Lee's presentation to learn more about his research. 

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is scheduled for January 6 - 9

Very much related to the field of wearable technologies, the annual Consumer Electronics Show starts tomorrow through Friday, January 6 through 9. There will no doubt be a lot of wearable technology with data tracking abilities displayed for the first time at this international show. I'll be watching what comes out and highlight a few technologies of note right here on Instructional Technology this time next week.