Data Literacy

Data Literacy
  • September 1, 2021
  • IMT

Did you know that nowadays you need a refrigerator that has a touchscreen on it? And not just has a touch screen, but it can play a YouTube video for you, it can tell you the weather.
These things exist, did you know that you need them?

Dr. Deepesh Kumar Srivastava, Assistant Professor in our Information Management and Data Science department, gave a really interesting talk about data literacy.
The world we live in today is producing so much instant access to information. How do we decipher through it all? And not only decipher through it all; how do we take it to make a smart, informed decision? Now, what if I told you that there is legitimately a skill in the world that everyone can learn- and not just learn, but get good at that will empower us to understand data and information better and then make a data-informed decision?

Sound too good to be true? I promise it’s not. It is real, and it is accessible to everybody. And this skill is data literacy.

The time in which we live has been called the fourth industrial revolution. Infect, it is very hard-pressed to find people who don’t have a computer in their pocket now, in a smartphone. The reality is, everything is being connected. And guess what that produces for us? Data and information!

In this information economy, data has been called the new oil. Data is a valuable asset, but just like oil, it has to go through people and refinement to get value. This is data literacy.
Now by definition, data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data-four skills that reside across a spectrum. Data literacy is not data science; not everyone in this world needs to be a data scientist, but everyone needs to be comfortable with data to be able to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution.

So, let’s dive through these four skills. To help us understand them better and to do that, we are going to imagine that we all are buying a refrigerator. The first characteristic is the ability to read data. Now imagine that we are going to a store, and we are looking at all these refrigerators, and we have no clue which one is going to fit our world the best. So the first step is, we are going to read the information and data that is provided to us, and if you were to Google the word “to read”; It means to look at something and comprehend it. So, when we walk into the store and there are 30 refrigerators all over, hopefully, some without a touch screen, we can read the information that is given to us, and comprehend it to make a smarter decision. Reading the data is one of the most powerful things that can free up our minds in the fourth industrial revolution.

The second characteristic of data literacy is the ability to work with data. Now one might ask themselves, “Does this mean I have to get good at computer science and statistics to work with data?” The answer is no. It means being comfortable with the information when it is presented to you. So, when we are buying these refrigerators and each refrigerator has an information sheet, we are comfortable taking that and consuming it.

To move along to the third characteristic of data literacy that means to analyze data. Now analyzing data provides us “why?’ behind it. Analyzing also means being comfortable asking questions.

The fourth piece of the pie is arguing with data. Arguing with the data means two things. First, interrogate the information as it is presented to you. And, the second side of arguing with data and information is the ability to put a position forward and back it up with information.

So, the four characteristics: reading, working with, analyzing, and arguing with the data empower us as individuals to make sense of all the information that is out there and then to make decisions with it.

Dr. Deepesh Kumar Srivastava
Assistant Professor | IMT Business School, Dubai