4T Data Literacy Conference | July 11-12, 2018

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Today was a great day, with record-breaking attendance in the sessions! We've begun populating archival content on our schedule page and will keep adding information over the coming days.

Thursday's sessions promise more aha moments -- a speedy-quick tool that crunches Census data about your community in seconds, more thoughts about data and privacy, infographics from the perspective of a high school student, and techniques to better your ability to facilitate deep investigations with students via a questioning technique.

Can't join us live tomorrow? Check our our schedule page as we add archival content in the next few days!


12:00 – 1:00pm Eastern
Building Data Literacy Among Students Using the ARDA’s Free Online Resources
Andrew Whitehead, Association of Religion Data Archives
Moderated by Lynette Hoelter, ICPSR
The goal of the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) is to democratize access to quality data on religion. We serve a broad constituency including students, teachers, researchers, journalists, and religious leaders. Through the years we have created a number of free online tools and resources that allow each of these groups to quickly and easily access data. In this presentation we will explore a number of these resources. By the end, viewers will be able to create a socio-demographic profile of their community using Census data in seconds, access profiles and data for over 200 nations around the world, and examine dozens of learning exercises that build students’ online data research skills. We will also share steps the ARDA is taking to make our data and resources even more user-friendly.
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1:15 – 2:15pm Eastern
Practical obscurity: My right to fail versus your right to know
Susan Ballard, National Collaborative for Digital Equity
Moderated by Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan School of Information
As individuals continue to engage in social media and eCommerce (and) the associations, organizations and government agencies with whom we interact collect and share information about us, personal data is available and discoverable on an increasingly easy basis. Anything from connecting with someone via an online dating service and wanting to know their “backstory,” to conducting a background check on a potential new hire or wondering if a DNA profile will match up with your quest for family information can lead to unintended consequences for the subject of the search. As the New Testament parable of The Mote and the Beam reminds us, in attending to the mote in our neighbor’s eye, do we need first to consider the beam in our own? Should we be worried about the past catching up with us, or have the right to obscure it? Does the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations offer us some means of control? This webinar will explore theses thorny questions and propose some potential solutions on the horizon.
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2:45 – 3:45pm Eastern
Fantastic Statistics and How to Use Them: Data for School Newspaper Reporting
Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, student journalist, in conversation with Tasha Bergson-Michelson, Instructional and Programming Librarian, Castilleja School
Moderated by Lynette Hoelter, ICPSR
Student newspapers follow the same trends as other media outlets, and are striving to integrate statistics and use of data visualizations into their reporting. But how do we teach students to take the story they want to tell with data and make it appropriate for the audience they want to reach? As a politics writer and infographic designer for an award-winning high school paper, Tuvya Bergson-Michelson grapples with how to use data visualizations to make complex topics more accessible with meaningful data visualizations. On topics like gerrymandering, it turns out that the visualizations people think they want are not the best way to convey the information that needs to be explained. The job of the student journalist — or any student making an argument with data — is to lift back the curtain on the hard statistical thinking without making the thinking hard on the reader. Join us as we explore effective habits of mind students can adopt in their own writing and research.
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4:00 – 5:00pm Eastern
Helping Students Ask Better Questions About Data
Connie Williams, National Board Certified Teacher Librarian
Moderated by Kristin Fontichiaro, University of Michigan School of Information
If we want high school students to engage effectively with data across the content areas, we need to help them learn how to interrogate the data they find. We also know that some students grow up encouraged to ask questions, while others learn that questioning is disrespectful. If we are committed to leveling the playing field for our students and building democratic citizenship, we need to cultivate students’ ability and confidence to ask effective questions, particularly when it comes to data. The Right Question Institute provides a powerful framework for guiding students toward developing better questioning skills that can help you bridge that gap. We’ll look at specific, practical strategies you can use to help you build sustainable skills in your students.
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Slide deck


While you can use the GoTo Webinar apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android for this conference, your experience will be enhanced if you use a laptop or Chromebook because it will be much easier to see the details in the datasets and graphics shared by our presenters. Questions? Check our FAQ page.

About Our Co-Host, the University of Michigan School of Information

What's a School of Information, Anyway?

The University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) offers programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level. From its beginnings as one of the oldest programs accredited by the American Library Association, UMSI now prepares its students for ethical, innovative careers in librarianship, archival practice, human-computer interaction, online user experience, data science, and more. From building robots to researching how autonomous vehicles talk to each other to preparing future librarians, we aspire to be a place you want to be a part of.

Low-Cost, High-Quality MOOC Courses

In addition to our residential programs, we are also active in the MOOC space, with courses on the Coursera and EdX platforms (including a series on public library management that Kristin coordinates, including courses on grantwriting and community needs assessment ). You can audit our Coursera courses and attend our EdX courses for free, but if you want a certificate showing that you've completed the non-credit-bearing course, you can enroll for a small fee of around $50-$100.

How Can We Help?

We strive for a balance between theory and practice, so many of our courses have field work or client-facing work as a course component. From website analysis to community profile development, analyzing information flow to building content management systems, we're seeking clients for both local, face-to-face engagement and for virtual participation. To get a sense of what projects our students do and see if your needs are a fit, please visit this site and, for further questions, email

Our mission

We create and share knowledge so that people will use information -- with technology -- to build a better world.

Our principles

  • We share a willingness to take risks: risks in our teaching, in our research and in our service.
  • We are welcoming and diverse. We work together in community.
  • We have a lot of fun.
  • We are progressive and forward looking and have been for 90 years.
  • We share a passion for the fundamental intertwining of people, information and technology.

Logging on for Sessions: You Can Do It Now or Wait Until Thursday's Sessions!

Thanks to ICPSR, we're using GoToWebinar as our webinar platform this year. Links for each session have been posted on the conference schedule page.

For those who like to be organized in advance, you can visit the links now to get personal login credentials via email for each session.

If you prefer to log in on conference day, that's easy, too. Click on a session link no sooner than 30 minutes prior to a session and provide your name and email (use your Michigan Department of Education MOECS email address if you're attending for SCECH credits), and you'll be fast-tracked right into a session.

Got questions? Just ask Amy at


We offer two ways of validating attendance for educators. Check out the one that applies to you:

  • Free continuing education credits for Michigan K-12 educators: As a state university, we are pleased to be able to offer 4-8 free SCECH credits to Michigan K-12 educators registered with the Michigan Department of Education's system. You must attend the entirety of at least four sessions to qualify. Click the link below for details.

  • Certificates of attendance for those who are NOT Michigan K-12 educators: We heard you last year that you wanted to be able to get proof of attendance, too. Again this year, we're partnering with our parent conference, the 4T Virtual Conference on Educational Technology, to offer certificates of attendance for a $25 fee. Click the link below for details. We appreciate your understanding that we will not accommodate other requests for verification (e.g., letters to administrators, attendees, school districts, or personnel files; completion of school, district, or state paperwork; etc.).

Please be aware that we must receive all digital documentation by 11:59pm on Friday, July 13, 2018 -- we go on vacation after that and it will be too late!

For more information, visit our SCECH/certificate page.


You can reach Amy from our University of Michigan team at .


The 4TDL is a satellite conference of the 4T Virtual Conference on Educational Technology and a sister conference to the 4T Digital Writing Conference.

If you're receiving this newsletter from a friend, please join us. You can REGISTER HERE!

This conference is a project of the University of Michigan School of Information and ICPSR and made possible in part by the Institute of​ Museum and Library Services RE-00-15-0113-15.