Results from the First Semester of DIGI610

Results from the First Semester of DIGI610

May 24, 2024

The first semester of DIGI610, the popular new mini course in data literacy led by SLATE Director Professor Barbara Wasson, has been completed at the University of Bergen! How did it go, and what’s next?

Data is everywhere, and it is both a prerequisite for and a product of all digital technologies, gadgets and services, from social media to online stores, fitness watches and artificial intelligence. But what is data, where does it come from, and what can it be used for?

The course DIGI610: Fantastiske Data (“Fantastic Data”), brand new this semester, is part of the new University of Bergen (UiB) continuing education series “Digital kompetanse for arbeidslivet” (“Digital competency for work”). DIGI610 is offered by UiB Videre (University of Bergen Continuing Education), the central unit for continuing education and professional development at UiB. Like the other mini courses offered through this series, DIGI610 only yields 2,5 study credits, which is supposed to be possible to handle while working a full-time job.

Game of Phones and Data Iceberg, games from the Erasmus+ DALI project used during DIGI610. Photo: Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen.

SLATE Director Professor Barbara Wasson led the course DIGI610, and SLATE Senior Researcher Jeanette Samuelsen was also an instructor on the course.

The aim of the DIGI610 course is to give participants basic knowledge of what data and digitisation do to us and the society of which we are part, what kind of technology is behind it, and what you can do yourself to gain some control over your data. Course participants can learn to think critically about the roles of data in society by developing knowledge about topics such as digitalisation, datafication, what data is, where data comes from, the “data life cycle”, and "data literacy”.

DIGI610: Fantastiske Data builds on the course DIGI110: Fantastiske Data, which has been available to all students at UiB since the Spring of 2022, and available to both students and employees at UiB since the autumn of 2023.  

DIGI610 is open to anyone over 25 years of age. If you are under 25 years of age, you must have attained “generell studiekompetanse” (“general university admissions certification”) from upper secondary school.

A Popular Course with a Wide Variety of Applicants

The DIGI610 course has proved to be popular. There were 549 applicants the first semester, resulting in UiB Videre and SLATE deciding to increase the upper limit of participants from 300 to 500. This meant that nearly all of the applicants were able to sign up for the course. Of all the participants registered at the start of the semester, 343 finished the entire course.

One of the main points of DIGI610 is that everybody, regardless of what type of job they have, has a need and a use for data literacy in today’s society. Every day we create data by using digital tools, using our smart phones, searching the web, taking pictures, driving into a parking garage, et cetera, and this data is valuable to commercial companies, our own workplaces, AI algorithms, and so on.

Indeed, it does seem like many different people can see the value of data literacy today. According to the data gathered by UiB Videre during course registration, the DIGI610 course participants had a wide variety of career backgrounds— such as teachers, principals, CEOs, shop assistants, consultants, developers, HR managers, department managers, supervisors, lawyers, engineers and economists.

Datareisen: The Data Journey

Central to both DIGI610 and DIGI110, is the open online course Datareisen.no (“The Data Journey”), which was developed by SLATE, the University of Bergen and Digital Norway, in collaboration with NewsLab AS and Feed AS. The course provides a basic introduction to data, and how it affects us and society around us. Datareisen is not only used as the main syllabus for several subjects at UiB— it is also available for anyone to use, free of charge.

According to Professor Wasson, in an interview with Digital Norway on January 29th 2024, Datareisen is a popular part of the course syllabus:

“I have taught for 30 years and have never had a course where the students have been so satisfied. I have met people on the street and at parties who have raved about Datareisen. I think it is because you’re able to relate data to your personal life. And see how it shapes our lives.”

Screenshot from the open online data literacy course, Datareisen.no.

Professor Wasson’s experiences with meeting people who express high praise about Datareisen and the DIGI courses, seem to be reflected in the results from the first DIGI610 course evaluation this semester. When answering the open question where they were asked to freely mention something they thought worked well about the course, many of the 147 anonymous respondents took the opportunity to praise Datareisen.  

Examples of the types of positive comments that appeared several times in the evaluation were responders describing Datareisen as user friendly and a useful and relevant supplement to the more traditional syllabus. In addition, they described Datareisen as part of a manageable workload well suited to the mini course DIGI610.

Most course evaluation responders felt that they learned a lot from Datareisen. One responder even mentioned that they were planning on using Datareisen to teach their own students, and another suggested Datareisen should be mandatory education for teachers.

Trying Out DALI Games Face to Face

Those who took DIGI610 this semester, were also offered the opportunity to meet in person as part of one of six non-mandatory, three-hour seminars held at the SLATE offices at the Faculty of Psychology at UiB, where they could try out analogue games relevant to the themes and learning goals of DIGI610.

There were 43 participants attending the seminars, a mix of teachers and industry people. The participants were not asked to introduce themselves until after trying out the games, so that everybody could start off on an “equal footing”, not knowing each other’s career backgrounds.

The seminars were designed to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and practical engagement with data literacy concepts. After a presentation of data literacy by Professor Wasson, SLATE postdoctoral fellow Fride Klykken led the game play and reflections, with the help of researchers Rosaline Barendregt and Sofie Steinsund.

The two games used during the workshops included Data Iceberg, a memory game where players learn about data by recognising and categorising different types of data in a variety of everyday situations, and Game of Phones, a round-based card game designed to make players more aware of the availability and use of online data. Game of Phones also has the important side effect of increasing a sense of camaraderie, friendship, and interest amongst players, all of which enhances citizenship. Game of Phones asks players to find specific items online in the form of images, videos, websites, and music tracks that are important to them and share with the other game players.

Fride Klykken led the reflection about the data they have left behind by playing the Games of Phones.

The version of the board game Data Iceberg that was used during the face-to-face seminars of DIGI610. Photo: Ingvild Abildgaard Jansen.

Data Iceberg and Game of Phones have been developed as part of the international game research project DALI, which aimed to create resources that can be used to foster data literacy in local, regional and European contexts. The DALI project was a collaboration between The University of Bergen (represented by SLATE), Spanish universities Universidad de Murcia and Universitat de les Illes Balears, Freidrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen Nurenberg, Germany, and Coventry University, UK.

Also used during the workshops was the Diamond Ranking activity, a thinking skills tool designed to facilitate discussions about which aspects of data literacy are most important to learn about. The activity encouraged the participants to consider their values on data literacy and come to a consensus with their team about the ranking of the topics.

The Future of DIGI610

As the game workshops were part of an otherwise fully online course, the DIGI610 course evaluation responses were rather mixed regarding the usefulness and availability of including face-to-face seminars. However, most of those who attended the workshops were quite happy with the opportunity to meet others and discuss data literacy. This constructive criticism of whether an online course should have a f2f seminar (which was a requirement for the “Digital kompetanse for arbeidslivet” series of courses) can provide a basis for further developing the game workshops for the coming semesters.

On April 30th, Professor Barbara Wasson had the honour of being invited to present at Stortinget’s (the Norwegian Parliament) conference on "Parliaments on the Web - Open Data". Her talk, entitled “Empowering Citizens to use Open Data”, presented SLATE’s research, games, and courses on data literacy. These included DIGI610, DIGI110, Datareisen and SLATE’s Erasmus+ DALI data literacy games.

Read more about Wasson's presentation at the Norwegian Parliament

Wasson was invited by one of the DIGI610 course participants, who works for the Norwegian Parliament. The presentation and the overwhelming and positive response to it, resulted in a request for an English language version of the DIGI610 course, and a version for those outside Norway.  

NAV, the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, has also expressed a wish for DIGI610 to start up again as soon as possible— instead of in two years, as was the original plan.

Professor Wasson has taken these requests back to UiB for consideration.

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