4: How to find online critical data literacy resources
The good news: there are already many educational resources about data that are freely available and ready to use. In this chapter, we give a brief overview of different formats and present a database that helps to filter the wide range of existing resources.
In this chapter, we will give a brief overview of the landscape of online ‘critical data literacy resources’, present a database that collects such resources and recommend some example resources for different types of learners. While there are also ‘traditional’ formats of teaching material available, for example textbooks or worksheets, our research and thus this chapter focusses on online resources.
Online resources can have various formats: websites, videos, games, podcasts, online courses, toolkits, or also downloadable guides, brochures or print templates. Many of these resources are created by non-governmental organisations (like PI!) or other civil society groups, but also educational institutions, researchers and journalists are common creators of online critical data literacy resources.
Teaching about Data 4: How to find online critical data literacy resources
The (English-language) resources we examined in our research came from diverse countries, such as the UK, US, Germany, Brazil, and several other European countries, and they were often available in more than one language. In line with our recommendations in chapter 3, many resources we analysed are easily accessible, give constructive advice and use interactive approaches and good visuals to make complex data topics tangible.
As outlined in chapter 3, we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and that different learners need different approaches and thus different educational resources to literacy. Unfortunately, many online critical data literacy resources address the general public rather than tailoring their content to a more specific audience. However, there are also resources for specific groups of learners; and some resources that have individual sections for different audiences.
One way that can help in finding the right resource for a group of learners is to use online collections of critical data literacy resources, such as the database by the Critical Big Data and Algorithmic Literacy Network. The database contains nearly 150 resources that can be filtered according to format, language, target group age, and theme tags (topics).
The database also contains a detailed profile for each resource, including a short description of the resource as well as information on its creators, license, design (e.g. interactive and/or personalised?), target group size, timeframe of use, and whether any prior knowledge or technical requirements are needed.
Further examples for online collections of resources include a ‘privacy literacy toolkit’; an e-book on data literacy full of webinars and case studies on working with but also reflecting on data; and a guidebook to critical data literacy tools for advancing data justice.
Selected examples for critical data literacy resources
To give a better idea of what online critical data literacy resources can look like, we have selected eight resources in different formats and for different learner types that you can find in the database by the Critical Big Data and Algorithmic Literacy Network.
For example, if you are looking for a resource to teach children about privacy, you can click the theme tag privacy and select the target group older kids in the search mask of the database, and you will find the resource “My data and privacy online. A toolkit for young people”.
If you would like to use fun and interactive resources, you can, for example, search for the format game and the language English, and you will find the serious game "DATAK. A game about personal data“, which is available in several different languages. Or you can search for a website about the theme facial recognition, and will find the interactive online experience “How normal am I?”, which shows users how artificial intelligence judges their faces.
We know that not all educational institutions are equipped with computers and internet access for the learners, so if you would prefer to use print resources, you can select print in the database’s search mask. For example, searching for a print resource on the theme bias leads you to the “UnBias – Fairness toolkit”, a printable resource for youth on topics around bias and fairness. Or, if you are working with adults from vulnerable communities, who might be discriminated by data technologies, you can search for print and the theme discrimination, and will find the “Digital Defense Playbook”, full of exercises for reclaiming power over one’s data.
Finally, educators may be interested in specific topics. Using the theme tag GDPR, for example, will lead to the “Your Data Your Rights“ website with information, videos, a short online game and example letters to enact your rights within the GDPR. If you search for social media, you will find the “Center for Humane Technology” website on the so-called attention economy and the risks that come with social media, whereas the topic automated decision-making systems is covered by the website “Automating NYC and (en)coding inequality?”
Real-life case studies that can be used in teaching
Privacy International’s own website is a learning resource.
- Our Learning section lists our content by topic, whether a technology (e.g. biometrics), a surveillance tactic (e.g. communications surveillance), a market or method (e.g. advertising technology), system (e.g. digital ID), or a data type (e.g. DNA).
- We generate educational material on our site and multimedia that can help explain specifically some of the tech and data we work on (e.g. what tech was used in the pandemic?)
- We have educational content directed at people who are facing specific challenges (e.g. migrants and asylum seekers), or who want to exercise their rights (e.g. protestors)
- We have specific guidance on how to change settings for specific purposes, e.g. stop ads on social media
- We tell stories about the challenges people face as a result of data systems, e.g. asylum seekers, people excluded from ID systems.
- Our Data Futures that explores four different types of future based on how we conceptualise data – as property, as something you have human rights over, as labour, or as a national resource.
- Privacy Matters a resource that defines and helps explain how privacy links with other rights.