In the undergraduate subject I’m coordinating this session, Arguments, Evidence, and Intuition, we’re really interested in getting students dealing with numbers in real world contexts. How do you critique a newspaper article, see behind a politician’s use (or lack of use!) of statistics, or decide whether a health supplement is efficacious?
So, we’ve designed assessments that require students to interact with real world data to:
- communicate a data story, and
- discuss a contentious issue from their own perspective, and that of multiple stakeholders.
We’ve also worked to integrate real world resources – datasets, newspaper articles and reports, etc. – into the sessions.
Ifttt and diigo
To support this strategy, give students inspiration for their assignments, and help the tutors collate resources around statistical concepts and evidence, I’ve recently setup a new resource that works as follows:
- I installed the social bookmarking tool diigo on firefox & my mobile – this allows me to save bookmarks to a shared online space (that others can also contribute to), these appear in a subject group, tagged with key terms and a short description of their relevance to the subject (normally a key quote from the article).
- I also tag the bookmarks with a key term (‘aei’) which acts as a trigger for this great tool if this, then that (ifttt) – ifttt lets me set up recipes such that if a resource is tagged ‘aei’ in the diigo feed, the next action is automatic.
- The action in this case is to send the resource to a Facebook page. I am the admin on that page (but can add others) which allows me to share directly to it, but also means that students don’t see my personal profile (if I posted, they’d just see a page admin). Happily I don’t really need to go to the page at all as the process is fully automated! This also means I don’t need to deal with the hassle of running a Facebook group, including membership and managing student’s comments.
So far a few students have liked the page, which needs some more love (advertising, a profile pic/cover photo, etc. and a bit more community interaction), but given how low cost and effort the process is, I’m quite happy to carry on with fairly small numbers. Of course it’s also a good system because even if students (and staff) don’t have Facebook (or don’t want to like the page) they can still access the resources via diigo, and I’m not doing much more work than reading I’d be doing anyway!
Stay tuned for part two of this post!
Feature image credit: NATS Press Office