Sunday 30 December 2012

Day 3....

The final day of the meeting, we were joined by Alex Kotsev, who had travelled from the north of Italy, via Milan. Alex and his colleagues are going to be providing some technical / web support for the project and help to develop the web solutions which will include a toolbox for making sense of data and statistics.

The previous night, we had visited the town brewery called Gruut, and had a quick tour of some of the sections of the city centre I hadn't yet visited - some wonderful historic squares and buildings. The brewery tour included several beers, and that was followed by a trip to the Pakhuis restaurant, which was one of the most spectacular places I'd ever eaten.

There was another full day meeting, where we discussed some of the areas that Alex was going to develop. We were shown some options for tools and web solutions and discussed more of the final format of the materials.
The plan is to develop a training course ultimately, so I was interested in what that might include and started to think of some examples of possible contexts for those materials.
There are plenty of situations where an understanding of statistics is of value beyond that of the curriculum, and there is an interesting balance to be struck.

After a pizza lunch, it was back to a final session where we allocated some 'jobs to be done', and also thanked Luc and the University of Gent for their excellent hosting.

The next meeting is going to be at the EuroGeo conference in Bruges - of which more to come in a later post. This will also provide an opportunity to experience the conference (and the city) and I am also going to be involved in leading some sort of workshop.

We were also tasked with finding out more about the place of statistical thinking within our respective national curricula... More on that to come later...

Thursday 20 December 2012

Launch meeting - Day 2 and Ghent

The 2nd day of the meeting continued with discussions about the different elements of the project, including the budget.
As before, there were plenty of ideas for how to develop the project and get best value for money. One fo them is through the use of social media, such as this blog. Social media are increasingly being used to share ideas and connect with others.
It forms part of many teachers' PLN or Personal Learning Network.
This is a model by Joyce which suggests how teachers make use of different tools for different purposes, and may tend to stay within their comfort zone of just reading a newspaper...
We want them to engage in a range of ways with the I-USE project.

I also presented my draft ideas for the dissemination plan: how were we going to make people aware of the project and how they (i.e. you) could get involved.
The project will be accessible in as many of these social media outlets as possible. As you can see here, it makes sense to have a FACEBOOK page for your project.
Which we have....

What's also clear is that we are going to be exploring other avenues for creating, sharing and connecting with teacher educators across the EU.

Blogs are already being used by some educators in the field of statistical literacy. These include Tim Gowers, from Cambridge University.
It is also worth following the work of Tim Harford, for example.
Please let me know of other blogs that are related to the idea of statistical literacy.

It is worth mentioning the city of Ghent here. It's the first time I'd visited and I was very impressed with the city and its variety of buildings, bars and restaurants, public transport - very efficient trams and buses at low cost. During the stay for the meeting, we worked long hours during the day, but after dark we headed into the city centre to explore some excellent restaurants...
Many thanks to Luc Zwartjes, from the University of Gent, for the excellent hosting of our first meeting.
Here's a slide show from my Flickr images:

Monday 17 December 2012

Launch meeting... Day 1

“Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.”
H.G. Wells

That day is today....

The I-USE project was officially launched on the 13th of December 2012 at a meeting hosted by the University of Ghent's Department of Geography. The University is the lead partner on this project.
The project is aimed at developing a course, and supporting materials for teachers and students for the development of statistical literacy.
The meeting was chaired by Luc Zwartjes.
Partners introduced themselves: a range of experiences and subject areas - there were quite a few geographers which is always a bonus. There are partners in the project from several EU countries - the UK is represented by the Geographical Association.
Other partners include the European Association of Geography Teachers (EUROGEO), two Danish data companies (PHEIT and DUUS Data & Media), and the University of the Aegean.
There was also one sub-contractor, who will create the website which will allow users to interrogate data in innovative ways: GIS Analytics Ltd.

There were also representatives from two schools where the materials will be piloted - in the Czech Republic & Denmark.

The first morning started with a welcome from Professor Nico Vande Weghe, followed by short introductions from the project partners. There is a range of experiences and subjects which are represented. Some of the partners are experienced in previous EU projects, with connections to iGUESS and Digitalearth
The next step up to and after lunchtime, was to review the work that would be carried out in the project by the partners.
There are a number of key things which we will be producing, including some courses and materials for teachers as well as a web-based toolkit. There will be further materials to come during the three year lifetime of the project.

There are connections here with other EU projects such as iGUESS and

We will also be making reference to the TPCK or TPACK model when the materials are produced. This is a model which explores the importance of different types of knowledge and connects with the GA's model of 'curriculum making' or 'living geography'. The model can be seen below - more on this as the blog develops...

Thursday 13 December 2012

Welcome to I-USE

Welcome to this new (as I write this) blog.
The project officially started on the 1st of October 2012

It will describe the work that is done during the duration of the I-USE project, which has been funded for three years from 2012. The project has some ambitious targets and outcomes, which we will share with you over the next three years as we work towards achieving them.
The context is a simple, but important one.

It's about making sense of a world of data... and helping students to explore this world of data...

Statistical literacy is becoming increasingly important. This includes an element of information literacy, but also digital literacy.

Students (and teachers) are now living in a society that demands evidence-based arguments and decisions. While the world is changing rapidly with respect to the prevalence and use of statistics, the curriculum in schools and the approaches teachers adopt tend to be slow to respond to such changes. Therefore creating meaningful, innovative teacher training plays a crucial role in developing statistical thought processes. Using statistics provides simple yet instant information on the matter it centres on.

Teachers do not always consider new forms of visualising statistical information as part of curriculum courses as they are not explicitly mentioned. As a result, in some secondary schools, many students don’t have an opportunity to learn to work with statistics and computer-based visualisations. 
Therefore, despite the fact that statistics offers powerful tools for information analysis and interpretation, many students are unable to extract meaning from the data and information they are presented with. 

The dilemma is that as more data becomes readily available and the tools for visualising and analysing the data become more sophisticated, the ability to produce useful information from the analyses is outpacing the capacity to use the knowledge productively.

Modern computer-based visualisations create a vivid presentation of collected and organized data through the use of figures, charts, living and interactive diagrams and graphs, which helps lead to more critical analyses of information.
The I-USE project will result in the development of teacher training courses and materials which will enable the teaching of statistics in a range of subjects.

As a geographer, I'm looking forward to working with project partners from UK, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Greece.