2021 EDSIG Proceedings: Abstract Presentation
Data Analytics Pedagogy: Incorporating New Tools Amidst the Theory
The Situation--Skills Gap
Contemporary research shows that there is a digital skills gap between what employers want and what job applicants can provide (Gurchiek, 2020). Additionally, recent U.S. events make it clear that in our personal lives, we all need stronger skills in reading data charts and discussing the significance of statistics. Any conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic and what a loss 2% of the U.S. population means for the lives and welfare of us all makes that clear.
Of the top technologies over 50% of businesses are expected to incorporate by 2022, data analytics is at the top of the list (Safesforce, 2020). This means as employers, customers, and citizens, we should expect to interact with data analytics in most aspects of our lives whether it's while voting, traveling, or working. For universities, that means our curriculum needs to ensure that students can make sense of the data they consume and understand how their data is used by corporations and governmental entities.
Understanding what our students will need for their careers and personal lives helps define what course learning outcomes should be. Business students, even more so than math and science students are expected to have digital analytics skills (NACE, 2018). Therefore, the coursework in business schools needs to bridge where students are now in terms of their digital skills and where potential employers expect them to be.
The Task--Bridge Theory & Practice
One possible way to bridge theory and practice without adding new courses to the curriculum is to incorporate data analytics into existing requirements like a foundations of information systems course. To add new content to an existing course faculty might need to focus on a subset of topics that best fit with the data analytics tools like Google Analytics and NodeXL. While it lacks the familiarity of Google Analytics, NodeXL, an Excel add-on, allows for network and content analysis with little required programming skills (Smith et. al., 2010). This study will focus on NodeXL which can be used for network visualization, social network analysis, and content analysis and is a better fit than Google Analytics when students' technological interests and skills are widely varied. NodeXL works with the social network APIs for YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Flickr which also means it works with networks with which students are already familiar.
As incorporating NodeXL into existing courses would be a departure from how these courses are typically taught, it would include some disruption of typical course coverage. But disrupting the typical curriculum might be worth the effort if students are better prepared for the demands of their future careers. Pedagogically, the need to measure “better prepared” then becomes critical. What evidence of student learning would justify the curricular change? Additionally, is there evidence that students retain the information about data analytics better when data skills are learning alongside decision-making theory?
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Gurchiek, K. (2020). Digital Skills Gap Hits All Levels of Job Market. Feb 20. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/digital-skills-gap-hits-all-levels-of-job-market.aspx
NACE (2018). Key Skills for the Future. Retrieved from: https://www.naceweb.org/talent-acquisition/trends-and-predictions/work-force-skills-of-the-future-reports/
Salesforce (2020). The Digital Skills Gap is Widening Fast. Here’s How to Bridge It. Jan 2.
Smith, M., Ceni A., Milic-Frayling, N., Shneiderman, B., Mendes Rodrigues, E., Leskovec, J., Dunne, C., (2010). NodeXL: a free and open network overview, discovery and exploration add-in for Excel 2007/2010/2013/2016, from the Social Media Research Foundation: https://www.smrfoundation.org
Solomon (2019). Table of Contents. https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/product/Solomon-Consumer-Behavior-Buying-Having-and-Being-12th-Edition/9780134129938.html?tab=contents