“Telling Data Stories” workshop

The team behind the Data Stories project, including After Surveillance network members, ran an online workshop on 9 April 2021 to discuss and imagine data and surveillance futures in education. The team (Amy Collier, Jane McKie, Jen Ross and Anna Wilson) introduced the tool and facilitated an interactive discussion and story creation session, giving participants a chance to experience the Data Stories approach, tell a story of their own, and consider the use of data stories in their own work with colleagues and students.

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No creative writing or storytelling experience was required – just an interest in these issues and a willingness to try something new. The session was open to all who are working or studying in a university setting, and about 30 people attended. Over the afternoon, through discussion, mapping and writing, 13 new data stories were published and more were drafted. Topics for the stories ranged from future technologies to resistance through remix, from the social impacts of ‘too much information’ to new academic practices. There were creepy stories, funny stories, heartfelt stories, speculative stories and stories reflecting on current events.

I fired up my laptop and logged in to Moodle. I selected the course that I was surely going to sleep through in the morning, navigated to the appropriate week, and clicked through all the activities as fast as I could without comprehending a word, selecting the ‘download’ button any time I had the opportunity. 

– from Learning Management

We wrapped up by talking about how the data stories tool worked for people and what they thought. There were lots of great ideas, including potential plans to use it in teaching. People appreciated that it could allow writers in less-powerful positions to make their voices heard anonymously. People enjoyed sharing experiences and found the social aspects of discussing and sharing stories to be exciting.

We closed with a short poll to see if people had ideas about the data stories tool – many said they wanted to use it with others (13), that they had ideas for how to make it better (3), and that they had more stories to tell ( 7).

We also wondered how people were feeling, in general, about higher education futures. For the most part, people felt somewhat or very hopeful (though for some this was context dependent).

Thinking about higher education futures in general, how hopeful do you feel?

Thinking about higher education futures in general, how hopeful do you feel?

Overall, it was an amazing afternoon for us as organisers, and we were so grateful that people took the time to participate and to make data stories. We will be developing the tool further based on feedback, and hope to run another workshop soon.

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