20.07.2018

Visualizing literacy inequalities through big data

EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2018. An innovative partnership with creative collaborators enabled the School of Education in the University of Glasgow to turn big data into visual outputs and to tell the story of literacy inequalities. Drs Kate Reid and Catherine Lido talk about the project.

What was the main purpose of this project?

“This strand of our ‘big data’ literacy project, funded by an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, enabled us to visually translate ‘big data’ obtained from the Urban Big Data Centre (UBDC) with the help of creative design partners. This enabled us to visualise adult literacy inequalities in Glasgow, Scotland and communicate these findings, creatively, with a wide range of learners, via different public engagement platforms including a showcase of our research in IKEA.”

How did the project foster cooperations and partnerships?

“Our impact work included working with digital design artist collectives as partners, helping us to create interactive objects to ‘tell the story of life-wide literacy inequalities’ and in doing so demonstrate and demystify the role of ‘big data’ in educational discussions.

Working with creative partners helped us to translate the often abstract, complex and impersonal data into design led outputs, which we hoped, could promote family discussions across a range of learners about our research. With our creative partners and their technical equipment (3D printer and laser cutter), we produced several design-led objects such as a 3D printed moving Glasgow local authority map demonstrating literacy outcomes.”

Working with creative partners helped us to translate the often abstract, complex and impersonal data into
design led outputs.

What was the best practice learnt from this project that you want to share?

“We see our research and public engagement activities as symbiotic to the success and sustainability of educational research. Working with external partners to co-create a range of objects which fit with the vision of the research is not an easy endeavour. In many ways, the external collaborations reflected the complexities of the ‘big data’ itself. Often we had to relinquish control, place trust in areas of expertise we did not have a full knowledge of.

We also came face to face with the reality of harsh economic times where our first design partner went in to liquidation, taking our almost fully built design objects with it. However, we re-ggrouped, re-built, became a little more resilient and adaptable to more scaled down, simplified design ideas which still allowed us to fulfil the aims of our project.”

Big data literacy project

  • Category: National projects
  • Coordinator: School of Education, University of Glasgow
  • Country: Scotland
  • Field: literacy
  • Innovative cooperation: creative partners such as digital design artists
  • Resources: website

Text: EAEAPhotos: School of Education, University of Glasgow

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