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Data and information in the curriculum

While data and information are the core focus within the context of the computing curriculum, “data and information” is taught across the whole curriculum. Whichever curriculum you follow, there will be opportunities to introduce concepts relevant to data and information in many subject areas and across the 5–11 age range.
An image representing a variety of cross curricular computing linked activities, including a child a child taking a digital photograph, a child viewing a graph on a screen and a child using a sensor to measure the temperature of a liquid.
While data and information are the core focus within the context of the computing curriculum, “data and information” is taught across the whole curriculum. Whichever curriculum you follow, there will be opportunities to introduce concepts relevant to data and information in many subject areas and across the 5–11 age range.
The strongest links are to maths and science, but these subjects highlight different aspects of “data and information”. In maths, the focus is on solving mathematical problems using data, for example calculating the mean of a set of data or the sum of responses. In science, the emphasis is on finding out information about objects (for example classifying different materials or animals), and recording and analysing data generated by experiments. There are overlaps with what should be covered in computing, but in these other subjects the focus is on collection, visualisation, and analysis of data and information rather than the technology itself.
In computing we must learn the key skills to collect, visualise, analyse and present data, emphasising using computers as tools. We also need to learn how to make decisions about the most appropriate technology to work with data and information and why we use computers in the first place. Here are a couple of activities that could help you to further understand the role of technology in data and information:
  • Create a simple graph on paper and another using a computer. Consider which method you think is better and why eg in relation to presentation and accuracy. If the data changes, you will need to edit the graphs – which one is easier to change?
  • Consider a collection of food items, say ten or more, each individually priced. Imagine you want to buy one. How long would it take you to remember each price? Some shops have over 60,000 different products – how can one till operator recall all those different prices without a computer system?

Using contexts from other subjects

There are many areas of the science curriculum where you can include data and information activities, for example, finding out data about and presenting information on the planets as part of an Earth and space topic. Similarly, in maths, learners might use graphs to more easily make comparisons. For example, learners might read food price information from a table and then produce a graph to compare prices in different supermarkets.
Being aware of how and when you can make links to other subjects will help you to reinforce learning and ensure that you introduce concepts in consistent ways. For example, if a teacher wanted children to create a branching database to classify rocks, he/she would need to make sure that they have the scientific knowledge necessary to complete the activity. Using technical vocabulary (for example, scientific words associated with rocks) in different subjects can also help to consolidate pupils’ understanding.

Linking data and information to data literacy and online safety

The skills related to “data and information” are applicable beyond academic subjects. The ability to read, write and communicate data in context, often known as ‘data literacy’ is increasingly important for children and young people in the modern world. Developing their knowledge and skills in this area will help them to develop their understanding of the wider digital world and enable them to remain safe and discerning users of online technologies. A good understanding of data will also help young people to recognise the authenticity and reliability of information found online and to make decisions about how they share their own personal data.
There are many modules of learning which cover issues such as how businesses collect and use customers’ data, or how to spot bad or misleading information. Any teacher should:
  • Model positive use when using online technologies
  • Raise awareness of the data and information that is collected by different applications
  • Show how sharing data can be used for positive as well as negative causes
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Teaching Data and Information to 5- to 11-year-olds

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