NUS recently rolled out the Data Literacy Programme (DLP) to over 4,300 executive and administrative staff and lab technicians. This is a move to impart a base-level competency in data analytics amongst staff, an emerging area that has become increasingly essential in every aspect of work in the new digital economy.
This new programme comes under the Staff Competency Development Framework, initiated by NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye, to develop and upskill the NUS staff community.
Sharing his vision, Prof Tan said, “At NUS, the journey of learning extends beyond the students. As a world-class education institution advocating lifelong learning, it is imperative that our staff also improve and develop new skills to keep up with the rapidly changing times. The DLP reaffirms the University’s commitment to lifelong learning and the development of our staff, and is our first step to prepare them for the digital future.”
The DLP is carefully curated and designed by a 14-member team led by Instructor Dr Hassanali Ghaedamini Harouni and Teaching Assistant Mr Maurice Chng from the NUS Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost. The programme takes on a blended-learning approach comprising both online and onsite learning components.
“The programme content is delivered in a combination of bite-sized online videos that are released progressively, supplemented by four sessions of face-to-face workshops. This gives staff who are juggling both work and learning the flexibility to complete the e-modules at a comfortable pace. The workshops, on the other hand, will help to reinforce the concepts learnt from the e-modules,” explained Dr Harouni.
Developing the DLP curriculum was not an easy feat. Dr Harouni revealed that one of the key challenges was designing learning materials that are of the right level of complexity for over 4000 adult learners. “Our emphasis when developing the content was therefore to focus on using examples to teach the learners how to interpret the statistical data instead of concentrating on the theory,” he said.
The team also took steps to ensure that the content of the DLP is practical, concise, and easy to follow. “We are wary that some of the staff enrolled in the programme have graduated many years ago, and may need time to adapt back to the process of learning. We took this into account, providing very detailed step-by-step instructions for every content, particularly for the hands-on portion,” Mr Chng shared.
The team has since rolled out the online component of the DLP. The onsite learning component will take place when the COVID-19 situation has improved enough for staff to return to work on campus.
Manager at the NUS Design and Environment Dean’s Office, Ms Genevieve Lee, has started on the e-modules. “This initiative brings across the important message that it is not just the data scientists of an organisation who need to be data literate – everyone should possess basic data literacy skills to empower ourselves to make better and data-driven decisions,” she said.
“As I am handling communications and publicity in NUS Design and Environment, data analytics is key to understanding the effectiveness of our publicity campaigns and engagement, and the DLP helps to provide the crucial learning tools required for my work.”
She added that the modules, released in stages, also help to space out the learning so that it is not too overwhelming.
Dr Harouni shared that the face-to face workshops and group projects that his team will be conducting will further solidify the learning.
The DLP is just the one of the programmes that the team is developing for NUS staff, and plans to roll out a second programme on Artificial Intelligence Literacy are already in the works.
The team is also actively collecting feedback on the DLP. “This data will be valuable in helping us evaluate the efficacy of the DLP, and will give us a sense of how many staff are ready to take on the second programme. This information will guide us in our design and planning of the second programme as well as future programmes, and is exactly why data analytics is important,” said Mr Chng.