Monday 22 December 2014

Our World in Data

This website explores the world of data that are out there...

It includes a range of data sets and ideas for how to use them.
There are 5 'visual histories' too, which are data-rich presentations.

The site has been developed by Max Roser, and comes highly recommended...

Saturday 1 November 2014

New look for FAOSTAT database

Earlier today, I was researching some sources of data for a document that will make it onto the I-USE website. This will explore some of the best apps for use in statistical lessons.

The FAO website has been updated, and the previous version is being phased out...

There are some useful statistics here on Food Security, for example, which are well worth exploring...

Wednesday 29 October 2014


StatSilk is a website which offers a range of data visualisations and map options and software such as StatPlanet.

These are not free, but can produce sophisticated results, such as this animation of Ebola victims...

A slightly random post...

What is randomness ?
We use random numbers in geography when carrying out geography fieldwork - this is used to identify points within a field area and aid sampling techniques.
I used to do fieldwork on salt marshes with sixth form groups and we would use random number tables to choose our locations. But how random were those numbers ? And did we use them correctly ?

Randomness is an interesting statistical concept.
Does pressing the random number key on a calculator really generate a truly 'random' number ?
There was a useful article on the nature of randomness.

Wind Turbines and bird deaths are a story which has been used to indicate the downsides of this form of alternative energy. Do birds really fly into the turbines and get killed in any sort of numbers ?
How random would this act be ? Or are there particular places that are more at risk of bird strike ?

How about this for another way to explore randomness...

I bought some pack of Random sweets. These are made by Nestle. They contain apparently a random set of strange jelly items. How random are they ? Would be interesting to find out how many of the packs are similar...

Similar sweets may be available in your own country of origin.

For a slightly better explanation of all things random, you should take a read of this recent post by Jess Whittlestone on the fact that we tend to see patterns in everything.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Sunday 19 October 2014

iPad and smartphone apps for Statistics

We are preparing a list of apps which are useful for teaching about Statistics.
This might involve finding statistics such as development data, graphing data, visualising it, or in some way making use of data....
Please tell us about the ones that you use in the Google Form below. 
All contributions gratefully received...

Saturday 27 September 2014

Everyone Counts

A very useful resource aimed at connecting Geography with some numeracy skills.
It has been produced by Oxfam, and is called Everyone Counts.
Oxfam is a UK based charity which works to support people in need, and fund development projects.
Aimed at 8-12 year olds.

Everyone Counts is an engaging resource which supports key elements of the maths curriculum. Using real-life data about children living in four countries around the world, pupils will develop their skills and understanding of topics such as time and data handling.

The resource also explores how inequality affects the lives of children in different parts of the globe.

There are plenty of useful resources and ideas that could be adapted to a number of subjects, and other scenarios, and plenty of inspiration for those wanting to connect this with development data.

Thursday 11 September 2014

I-USE Teacher training Pilot course

Two images taken during our pilot teacher training course which is taking place at the University of the Aegean this week.
Iain PalĂ´t is presenting in the top image.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Saturday 6 September 2014

Research in Education

The Research in Education event was held this weekend.
It brought together a range of educators with a background or interest in how research could influence classroom practice.
One presentation by David Didau not only had some interesting insights into the value of research, but also on the nature of causality and coincidence... Some good examples to use when showing why it's important to be sceptical about the use of statistics on occasions...

Sunday 31 August 2014

I-USE code now on Github

The I_USE website has a series of tools, and one in particular is ground-breaking.
It offers users the chance to create their own maps by entering data into a simple interface on the site. This produces an interactive map which has more flexibility than any previous tool.
Global maps can be produced in seconds to show data that has been collected by users, or obtained from other sources.

We have now placed the code for these tools on the GITHUB site, which is a repository of code that can be used by developers. The relevant page where the code has been placed is HERE.

This is very rare for a project with our EU funding, and is done in the spirit of collaboration, and to also bridge the gap between education and technology.

We're excited to see what developers might do with the code, and blur the distinction between education and cutting edge technology. It's very rare for projects with the EU LLP funding that we have to share code openly in this way. Another example of I_USE exploring new avenues...

You can give the tool a go on our developers page here which is a version of the page on the full I-USE website.

Thanks to our wonderful colleagues Alex Kotsev and Veselin Vasilev for their work on the coding and documentation.

Monday 25 August 2014

Moodle Courses under construction

As preparations continue for the meeting and sample courses in Greece in September, the first of the courses that we are going to be running for the I-USE project are now taking shape.

We have a group of teachers who are going to be trialling the course in the 2nd week of September at the University of the Aegean  in Mytiline on the island of Lesvos.

There will be a series of activities covering several subjects and time for the participants to reflect on the process of involvement. Feedback will appear here during the meeting.

Sunday 6 July 2014

QGIS... GIS tools for manipulating data...

A few months ago, I had a conversation with Charlotte Graves, who is developing some teaching materials and approaches for QGIS (a free Open-source GIS package)

The materials are now available to use and trial. Details are available HERE.

There is a questionnaire connected to the trial, which will help Charlotte to create further materials, and those which are of as much relevance as possible. This was part of her research, as she explains here:

The aim of my research was to create a plugin for QGIS that would encourage and support the use of GIS in schools at minimum cost and with as much ease as possible.

I am now in the final stages of my dissertation and the QGISforSchools plugin is ready for testing. 

It takes the form of a QGIS plugin that provides 3 units (on Population & Development, Tourism and Earthquakes) that provides a student (or teacher) who is new to GIS with a step-by-step introduction to the software. The intention is that the software is simply used to explore the Geographical topic, rather than to teach the user how to use the software on his/her own.

I would be very grateful if you could spare some time to test the plugin and provide some feedback for my dissertation, and to inform the future development of the plugin.

The steps for testing the plugin can be found at the link above.

Charlotte has also provided a useful list of suggested resources for those who want to explore GIS in more detail.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

A reminder to label your axes when drawing a graph....

Statistics and Science Report

As part of the efforts for the International Year of Statistics. Check out this report (PDF download)

Special announcement to participating organizations in The World of Statistics

Statistics and Science: A Report of the London Workshop on the Future of the Statistical Sciences ( is the product of a high-level meeting in London last November attended by 100 prominent statisticians from around the world. This invitation-only summit was the capstone event of the International Year of Statistics, a year-long celebration during 2013 that drew as participants more than 2,300 organizations from 128 countries.

The report is written in an accessible style so people who are not experts in statistics can understand its messages and the field’s impact on society. It can be used as a resource by students interested in studying statistics at university, by policymakers who want to better understand the value statistics provides society and by the general public to learn more about the misunderstood field of statistical science.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

I-USE article in GA Magazine

The I-USE project has featured in the Geographical Association's Magazine which is sent out to around 6000 members worldwide.
The article describes the project, with a link through to the website.

Thursday 29 May 2014

New report from the Royal Statistical Society

A main purpose for the I-USE project is the development of statistical literacy in teachers and students.
This new report from the Royal Statistical Society looks for the opportunities for exploring statistical literacy that are offered across the main 'A' level subjects in the UK - similar opportunities will no doubt be offered by comparable subjects / assessments in other EU countries, and also by the IB.

The report explores the possibilities for the following subjects:

Business Studies

The report can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking THIS LINK.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Plotting data from a spreadsheet in ArcGIS Online - connections with I-USE

ArcGIS Online has been causing a lot of excitement amongst those teachers who have seen it in action.

It has both FREE and SUBSCRIPTION options, and the FREE version is sufficient to start creating some really interesting maps, and working with data (which may come from I-USE)

One of the most exciting things is the ability to map data from a spreadsheet really quickly, using both 2D and '3D' mapping (using the Thematic Mapping engine, which we have also adopted for the I-USE 3D Mapping option)

I have been exploring ArcGIS Online for several courses that have been running over the next last few months, and have worked on some activities. We will be using some others developed by Bob Lang during the summer term.

You can add data to ArcGIS Online in a range of formats - the best option is to save your spreadsheet in CSV (Comma Separated Variable) format.
For those who are unfamiliar with spreadsheets, this is a type of spreadsheet where the boxes are missing, and replaced by a comma... so each of the cells' contents is separated by commas rather than lines.
Another element of the tool is the ability to use templates to explore places, and also to create your own STORY MAPS. I've been discussing this with Joseph Kerski. He has recently shared an essay on how this system might work.

I have also been exploring the ease with which information can be added from a spreadsheet...
This is data on crime from the POLICE.UK website, for example.

How does this connect with the I-USE project ?

One of the outcomes that is possible from the website is a CSV file that is generated from users' own data. This could connect very nicely with ArcGIS Online.

More on this to come as part of the teacher development course, that we are planning at the moment...

Sunday 11 May 2014

LondonMapper - visualising complex data sets...

“Our aim is to provide unbiased information about London's social, environmental and economic issues.
“These maps are like fancy pie charts, and if something is twice the size of something else it is obvious. We just want to spark a debate about the differences in one big city.”
Professor Danny Dorling

Ben Hennig and Alan Parkinson from the I-USE team are working on some educational materials for a project called LondonMapper - a website which officially launched today, funded by the Trust for London.
The educational materials are being funded by an Innovative Geography Teaching grant that they have been awarded by the Royal Geographical Society.

Ben's maps will be familiar to many from his work on WorldMapper with Danny Dorling and others from Sheffield University.
Ben now works at the University of Oxford, still with Danny Dorling, and LondonMapper is one of several exciting projects that he is working on.

The site got a lot of early publicity and was featured in quite a few of the newspapers today.
- the Guardian
- Daily Mail
- the Independent
for example...

Explore the data on this Guardian Datablog page, which includes the hedgehog map and peregrine falcon map created along with Daniel Raven Ellison as part of the Greater London National Park project

The site will be expanded in the next few weeks with a whole tranche of new maps.

It's a reminder that maps (or in this case cartograms) are one way of visualising statistical data to make the patterns buried in it visible...

Thanks for the mention :)

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Teaching Geography in a Digital World

I had a sneak preview of Paul Turner's new iBook a few days ago, and it's now out, and available on iTunes at 'my favourite price'.
This is a really nice summary of some of the best tools out there for teachers wanting to find out about technology that can help.

I particularly like p.54 :)

Well done Mr. Turner !

Sunday 20 April 2014

Project Meeting and Workshop at the GA Conference

Our I-USE Workshop took place on Wednesday morning.
We'd like to thank the people who came along and tried out the toolkit and had a chance to see the work done so far.
More to come in the next few blog posts...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Project Meeting 4 - some aspects of the TOOLBOX

The first day of the GA Conference was a sunny day. After breakfast in the hotel, we walked through Guildford to the University and our meeting room.

One of the outcomes of the meeting was the Workshop which was delivered at the GA Conference on the Wednesday of conference. We spent time finalising this, and also taking a look at some of the tools that were produced as part of the website.

Head to the website and click on TOOLS.

This tool allows users to create a map from their own data, with remarkable ease and speed. Once entered, data will be visualised in a number of formats, added to a map if location data is available, and made available to download as a CSV file for use in other tools and applications.
There is a simple format that is required for the data entry.
Enter years in the following format e.g. ,2012,2013,2014 would plot the years 2012-2014
Note the use of a comma at the start of the line
On the following lines, enter the data header, followed by the data itself, separated by commas
Click SUBMIT to see the data as a table, then choose from the options at the top to create graphs or maps, and download the data.
Try it now.
User Guide for this process will be available shortly.

Also a reminder of the FACEBOOK group, which has over 70 members, and which you are free to join to keep up with the action. Why not join now.
Also follow our Twitter feed: @StatsinEdu

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Statistics in Geography in the UK

Out workshop at the GA Conference for the I-USE project was aimed at developing teachers' ability in statistical literacy through the use of the I-USE website.

Statistics were in many geographers's minds last week, when the new GCSE Subject Content guidance for Geography was released. This included a range of new guidance on fieldwork in Geography.

Appendix: Use of mathematics and statistics in geography 

The list below outlines the range and extent of mathematical and statistical techniques considered appropriate to geography GCSE. The following should all be covered in any specification.

Examples in bold are to aid understanding and suggest range, and these are not compulsory. 

Cartographic skills 
 use and understand gradient, contour and spot height on OS maps and other isoline maps (e.g. weather charts, ocean bathymetric charts) 
 interpret cross sections and transects
 use and understand coordinates, scale and distance
 describe and interpret geo-spatial data presented in a GIS framework (e.g. analysis of flood hazard using the interactive maps on the Environment Agency website)

Graphical skills 
 select and construct appropriate graphs and charts to present data, using appropriate scales and including bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, line charts, histograms with equal class intervals
 interpret and extract information from different types of graphs and charts including any of the above and others relevant to the topic (e.g. triangular graphs, radial graphs, wind rose diagrams, proportional symbols) 
 interpret population pyramids, choropleth maps and flow-line maps

Numerical skills 
 demonstrate an understanding of number, area and scale and the quantitative relationships between units
 design fieldwork data collection sheets and collect data with an understanding of accuracy, sample size and procedures, control groups and reliability
 understand and correctly use proportion and ratio, magnitude and frequency (e.g. 1:200 flood; and logarithmic scales such as the Richter scale, in orders of magnitude) 
 draw informed conclusions from numerical data

Statistical skills 
 use appropriate measures of central tendency, spread and cumulative frequency (median, mean, range, quartiles and inter-quartile range, mode and modal class)
 calculate percentage increase or decrease and understand the use of percentiles
 describe relationships in bivariate data: sketch trend lines through scatter plots; draw estimated lines of best fit; make predictions; interpolate and extrapolate trends
 be able to identify weaknesses in selective statistical presentation of data

One of the outcomes from the Geographical Association partner, via Alan Parkinson, will be to ensure that the I-USE website is linked with these outcomes, so that the use of the website will enable GCSE Geographers to cover these.

This will only form a small part of the overall work on the I-USE project, as we have broader aims to support teachers in a range of curriculum subjects, in a number of European locations. 

Follow us on Twitter @StatsinEdu for more details

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Want to know more about our project ?

Here's our information leaflet, which describes the project and its various component parts.

Meeting 4 - Guildford, UK - Arrival and first day

The I-USE project partners are meeting in Guildford for the 4th meeting of the project.

This is timed to coincide with the Geographical Association's Annual Conference as the GA is one of the partners in this project.
The partners met at the Angel Hotel in Guildford, and caught up with progress on the project so far.
If you are at the conference, come along to the session that we are leading on Wednesday morning at 9am.
Details below:

Check out the project website.

Saturday 5 April 2014

GA Conference 2014

The I-USE team will be at the University of Surrey in Guildford between the 14th and 16th of April for the Geographical Association Conference.
We will be meeting at a hotel close to the conference venue, and also attending various events as part of the conference.
We will be distributing materials relating to the project at various events that are running as part of the conference, so look out for an I-USE flyer, leaflet or card.

Our workshop will take place on Wednesday the 16th of April in the morning, during the first session of the day.
We'll be sharing some of the work so far, and offering people the chance to engage with the project.

One of the main activities at the meeting will be the creation of some materials for some face to face and online training related to the critical use of statistics and data.
Come and say hello if you're a delegate at the conference.

Sunday 30 March 2014

Coming soon to an event near you...

We've been working with the very talented designer Bryan Ledgard to create some further materials with more information about the course, and which will also be used at various events around Europe.

They have been printed and are now available for distribution.

If you're going to be at the GA Conference, come and see us.

I-USE Dissemination materials

Coming soon to an event near you - wherever you are in Europe...

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Apps to investigate further

There are quite a few apps for tablets and smartphones which provide some useful materials on statistics, and development issues. The World Bank has produced a range of apps, which connect nicely with the work that we are doing on the I-USE project.

The World Ban, for example have produced a free app which offers a range of useful options for accessing development data.

Datafinder 3.0 is a free app for iPad

The app looks like it will be useful for anyone exploring development issues, for example.

A full list of the World Bank's apps can be seen HERE.

A full list of useful apps for statistical literacy will be shared during the summer term.
Please pass on any suggestions or recommendations for your favourites.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Thematic Engine

As part of the discussions at previous meetings of I-USE partners, there was discussion on the way that development data can be mapped.

One of the ways that this can usefully be done is with the Thematic Engine website.
This creates a file which can be downloaded in Google Earth, taken from the CIA World Factbook and UNData database. Students could usefully explore the relative merits of this data source compared to some of the others which are reviewed on the I-USE website.

Google Earth remains a tool that many teachers have familiarity with. The focus for Google may have shifted a little bit towards their mapping rather than Google Earth, but this still provides a good opportunity for exploring and visualising statistical data.

Sunday 2 March 2014

The website takes shape...

Our I-USE website is now up and running...

Content is being added to flesh out some of the areas, and we are adding further materials in the run up to the next meeting in April 2014.

If you take a look, please tell us what you think of it.

Feel free to add a comment here, or follow us on the SOCIAL MEDIA links provided.

I-USE in Portugal

Alan Parkinson from the I-USE project team visited the Alentejo region of Portugal, and was invited to speak to a group of teachers from across the region while there at a teacher development event in the town of Vidigueira.
Also present in the audience was Herlander de Mira.

Alan presented on the curriculum, and how it is made within the classroom. As the curriculum changes, one of the things that needs to be included is an element of statistical literacy. He talked about the project, and provided a link to the website where materials are being added.

Making sense of data

As a further reminder that the work we are doing with I-USE is at the forefront of what educators want, there is a new GOOGLE-led mini-MOOC starting in a few weeks.

It's called DATASENSE WITH GOOGLE and you can follow the link to sign up.

It might get you in the mood for engaging further with the I-USE materials as they emerge this year.

Here's a short video aimed at introducing the course, which includes something on Google Fusion Tables, which is something I want to get better at using...

Saturday 1 March 2014

Beautiful Data

One focus for the I-USE project is the way that data is visualised. There is an exhibition which those who are in London before May 2014 may be interested in.

It's an exhibition at the British Library, which explores some of the key examples of data visualisation, from the early days of the 'craft'.
Here's William Farr's visualisation of mortality and temperature in London as a result of cholera as he tried to work out the source of the outbreak. John Snow's famous map is in the exhibition as well as early work by Florence Nightingale...
A fascinating reminder that data visualisation and the importance of statistical literacy is nothing new!

Thursday 27 February 2014

2014... a year of activity for the project

Welcome to the first update post of 2014...

We have a busy 2014 ahead of us... and there has already been plenty of activity behind the scenes on various aspects of the project.

After the setting up of the project over the last year, we are now beginning to prepare the teaching materials which will be used for the courses that will be run as part of the course.
These will be piloted over the summer at the University of the Aegean, and the materials will then be shared online (and on further face to face courses)
The project is being disseminated through a range of channels and has been mentioned at a number of meetings and events in several EU countries.

We are also preparing for our next meeting, which will take place at the University of Surrey in Guildford as part of the Geographical Association's annual conference.

There will be a workshop as part of the session on the Wednesday the 16th of April.

We have also worked with the very talented designer Bryan Ledgard to produce a range of dissemination materials which will form part of the project as we move into 2014. Watch out for those shortly.

The I-USE project has also formed part of a lecture given in Altentejo, Portugal by Alan Parkinson last week, and also the inaugural School on Cloud meeting at Doukas School in Athens at the end of March 2014.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Census at School

The Census at School site website contains a range of useful classroom resources, which explore the analysis of data collected in the most recent UK Census.
These are produced for a range of subjects.

For example, the 'How old is your height' activity, explores the changing heights of people through history.
It's a nice example of how young people can be involved in data collection which is then used to explore a relevant issue.
I wonder whether there are similar resources available to help 'unpick' the Census data collected in other EU countries ?

Saturday 25 January 2014


On the I-USE website, we have started to provide guides to some of the more popular websites and apps which relate to statistical literacy across a range of curriculum subjects.
One quick way to test your statistical literacy is to have a go at the QUIZ from the home page of the EUROSTAT website.
Choose a theme and test yourself against the clock...

I-USE website taking shape

If you haven't been to see our website for a while then you won't have seen the changes that we've made to it.

We're adding new features all the time now as the project prepares to move into its second year. We've got our new TOOLKIT taking shape, which will help to make sense of statistical data for you.
There are other sections of the website which will be developed through this year.

Readymade tables (EU and World statistics)

Databases (Eurostat, World Bank, Google data, Gapminder)

Tools (Collecting your own data, Using statistical tools with video guides)

Use (How to use statistics in different subjects, Quantitative and qualitative data, Examples of misuse

Resources (Best practice and Course materials)


New logo....

This will be appearing on all the activity that we get up to in 2014 and 2015.
More on that to come shortly...
Check out the website if you haven't visited recently.

Monday 20 January 2014

Statistical literacy - some Geography contexts...

It's important to make clear that unlike most of the projects that I'm currently involved in, and am likely to be involved in, this is not a geography project.

Statistical literacy is a skill that is required by all students, and would be best taught in all subjects, so that students became aware of the literacy elements that were relevant.
The previous post which refers to the work of Hans Rosling is a reminder that numbers are of vital importance if we want to fully understand the world, and the way that it works.

Which areas of geography are you particularly focussing on at the moment.
Where does statistical literacy come into the work that you are doing ?