Mashing data is the essential 21st C skill

Potato-masher

I think the data mashup is the practice of future classroom learning. Yes, it’s important to learn to manage the flow of data from the internet firehose, but that is trivial work. If Sir Ken Robinson, and Northrop Frye before him, are right that we need to pay more attention to cultivating the imagination and creative spirit, then we need to learn to play with that data and make something out of it. It is the essence of creativity to take two known things and turn them into a third, new thing says Sweden’s creativity maestros, Fredrik and Teo Haren. See David Rumsey’s way of creating new knowledge out of old maps (http://theok.typepad.com/digital_signposts/2011/08/oldmaps.html) or Splendor, the work of two interface design students at FH Potsdam, for examples of creative mashups.

So I want to make it easy for my students to play with data. Stephen Wolfram made his computational engines so we could play with facts and figures. I want the same–a tool that eliminates the “trivial calculations”–for the data I work with as a literature and philosophy teacher. 

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