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Mathematics and OpendataBC

May 16, 2011

Open Data is data that you can use. It enables citizens to collaborate and make a difference in BC.

The Government of British Columbia recently moved to open data (www.opendatabc.ca) for the citizens of the province. [To clarify this is not an official government site however the data is from government sources. Thanks David H. for the clarification. Please see comments below.] In the digital age, this amounts to opening the BC data flood gates for the world to view, analyze and draw conclusions. As of May 16, 2011 there were 220 data sets which have been made available to the public.

The Open Data website lists groups of people who may be interested in the data as well as some possible uses for the data with each group. While I can not comment on the value of the data for most of these groups or for business, non-profit groups or a plethora of other agencies I do think that two groups were left off this list, students and teachers.

The use of authentic data for a reliable source has great potential for the classroom. For educators it is a warehouse of local information that is relevant to the communities and province where students live. For students it is information which can be used to examine the world around them not only in mathematics classes but it other subjects and areas of interest. It provides the numerical evidence needed to make informed decisions and draw conclusions. It provides information that can be used to mobilize the brainpower of the young minds of the province on some of the tough issues we face in the 21st century.

For example, the front page of the website this morning listed the following data sets (only the first 5 are listed):

While care must be taken when presenting any topic to students, and some of the ones listed above may be seen as controversial, is it not preferable to have the facts which are locally relevant. Are there not opportunities to use this information within BC classrooms?

With the fresh thinking of students around the province examining the data and proposing new and unique solutions to issues that face BC citizens I think this can be a great opportunity for the province as a whole. I am interested to hear of ideas that teachers may have to use this data within their classrooms. I am also interested to hear how other agencies can use this data within classrooms to assist educators.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2011 9:29 am

    Aaah, but controversy is what excites kids! Yes, you should be careful about what age you introduce kids to the potential “nastiness” of our world, but similarly an introduction to real ideas can be a huge eye opener.

    Love the resource, thank you for sharing. Sending this to my math teacher colleagues.

    • May 16, 2011 10:02 pm

      Glad the resource is of use David. I know I will be using it next year. Been looking at some of the spreadsheets and I think there is lots there that will be interesting. Let me know how you and your colleagues use it.

  2. David Hume permalink
    May 16, 2011 11:22 am

    Hi Richard–something to note. The Open Data BC website is actually not an official Government of BC site.

    It’s a list of government data that’s been compiled by a group of advocates that believe in sharing data. As I understand it, they are all government data sources.

    It’s a really interesting group that’s done this work. I’d reccommend joining their Google Group here: http://groups.google.com/group/opendatabc

    • May 16, 2011 10:04 pm

      Hi David. Thanks for the clarification. I will adjust the post after writing this. That is what I love about this format of communication and sharing … it allows for information to not only be shared but clarified and improved upon.

      I will check out the Google Group as well. It will be great to have this info for the classroom next year.

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