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DataXpresso blog: data literacy – the basis of data democratization

Data literacy

This week’s episode of the DataXpresso podcast touches on how, at Exasol, we work with many customers and partners who want to give their employees greater access to data. The goal is to empower people by giving them the opportunity to use business data and perform their job more effectively.

In this blog, we explore the importance of establishing a strong foundation of data literacy among employees to ensure such data democratization efforts can succeed. Here are some resources to help you learn more.

Listen to DataXpresso episode 21 here.

During this week’s podcast, Helena and Eva discuss how tech platforms are delivering more content and resources to support the development of data literacy among their customers and users. One example is Tableau who created a free online learning program, which includes more than five hours of training to help anyone learn foundational data skills. Check it out here.

Meanwhile Qlik, a company that has been talking about the importance of data literacy for many years, is offering a mix of free and paid-for resources, which you can find on its website.

“Data in the hands of a few data experts can be powerful, but data at the fingertips of many is what will be truly transformational.”

Brent Dykes Director of Data Strategy, Domo

How to teach yourself by becoming part of a data community

Tableau has also been extremely successful in building a global community of enthusiastic fans who generously share their knowledge and give their time. Whether you use Tableau for visualization or another tool, there’s a list of community projects you can get involved in to further develop your own data literacy skills, meet like-minded people, be inspired and learn from the smartest and most passionate people in the industry.

Going beyond data literacy – building digital skills

In this article by McKinsey, the authors describe the COVID-19 pandemic as a test for the digital and technology skills being taught in schools and the prevalence of these skills among teachers today.

High expectations have been placed on how technology can improve the education of young people everywhere, but are we as a society delivering on these hopes? And how do we expand the conversation to include not just an understanding of data but also of tools and technologies, and how to best use them?

Where to start with data literacy

Enabling and empowering teachers
We as a society need to take the necessary steps to ensure that teachers and educators are becoming more data literate, so they can teach the next generation of school and university students. This article by the American University’s School of Education discusses why data literacy is important for teachers to enable better decision-making in an education context. Sway Grantham and Jane Waite provide suggestions on how data literacy can be introduced in the classroom in primary schools in this article – assessing the current levels of data literacy among children and the steps teachers can take to improve it. 

Making data more exciting
During this week’s podcast, Eva shared that she did not feel excited about data and statistics while at university and that the subject would benefit from being linked more closely to real-world scenarios and business examples. 

In this Towards Loading...Data Science article, data analyst Bobby Muljono reflects on his time as a student, revealing that, “many schools do not train us to formulate data-related business questions and provide solutions to existing products or services. How do we propose data collection methods that solve a business problem from scratch?”

Many students learn skills in something of a vacuum – removed from real-life applications – meaning that they can lack incentive and perspective for appreciating the importance of what they are learning. So, how can experiences in the ‘business world’ be introduced to the classroom to encourage more students to pick data analysis and science, and related disciplines for their degree and profession? 

Eva suggests inviting data professionals to give talks and lectures – something that’s even easier to arrange virtually in the current environment. In addition, adding more work experience assignments and internships into the curriculum could be a way to open students’ eyes to the opportunities in the real world, while helping them build relationships and networks early on.

Teaching your people
Today’s workforce includes many data professionals and departmental leaders who don’t have the level of data literacy needed for their jobs. This is often due to the way their roles evolved alongside digital transformation. Therefore, teaching your workforce the skills they need and meeting them at their current level is critical for involving them in the ongoing success of your organization.

Your people’s experiences and expertize are invaluable and should be coupled with modern data skills to help them thrive in their jobs, and position your business to benefit from the opportunities 2021 promises to bring.


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