Which ethical, legal, and technical aspects have to be considered in the handling and dissemination of data? How can these processes be organized, analyzed, and published? The Data Literacy Initiative of TH Köln wants to systematically embed an appropriate manner of data handling into all curricula of its degree courses. For this purpose, TH Köln, in the context of the funding program of Data Literacy Education.nrw, will receive financial support in the amount of 300,000 euro from Deutschen Stifterverband (Donors‘ Association for German Science) and the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The initiative is part of the digitalization strategy for teaching and studying of TH Köln and allows for providing data competence for students in all curricula of TH Köln. From the second semester onward, students of TH Köln are supposed to adopt and develop a basic set of skills in order to critically reflect on the growing amount of data in our environment and in order to responsibly deal with the dissemination, significance, and impact of data in general.

Data Literacy Certificate after Successful Completion of Three Levels

During studies, the transfer of expertise will be split into three levels: The first level, “Basic“, will address the ethical and legal aspects of the research, evaluation, analysis, and verification of data, as well as data statistics and programming for public presentation and publishing. In a next step and in the following levels of “Explorative“ and “Specialized“, these competencies will be broadened, intensified, and applied in practice: In the context of interdisciplinary project weeks, workshops, and subject-specific teaching projects, students are supposed to independently generate, assess, manage, and analyze data. Here, the intention is to directly apply the acquired skills by means of a strategic focusing on specific subject areas such as, for example, Smart Cities, Energy & Ecosystems, Internet of Things, or Big Data. After successful completion of those levels, students will receive the “Data Literacy Certificate“.

Besides the implementation of data management into all curricula, the “Data Literacy Initiative“ (DALI) also intends to establish a “data lab“ where students can get advice by means of cross-faculty seminars. At the same time, the laboratory is supposed to offer the needed infrastructure for the adequate and research-based handling of scientific data and the build-up of block chain applications.

Data Management of Growing Importance for Designers

“For current and future designers, a well-founded and ethically responsible usage and handling of data is becoming increasingly vital. Through the interdisciplinary and cross-faculty work at the Research Data Lifecycle, through specific teaching units offered by the six faculties involved, but also through seminars and projects at KISD – Köln International School of Design of TH Köln, students will be provided with the expertise needed to responsibly and critically reflect on data and its growing amount and relevance. At KISD, we want to offer cross-faculty teaching, for example in cooperation with the Faculty of Information Science and Communication Studies, which will be open to students of other faculties and degree courses. Additionally, KISD contributes to the overall project through our expertise in developing Blended Learning concepts, and we will be offering interdisciplinary seminars and events on thematic blocks such as ‘Data Collection (Sensing – Generatin Data through Technical Sensors)‘ and ‘Data Management and Communication (Information Architecture, Visualization and Perception)‘,“ says KISD professor Philipp Heidkamp, who, together with Prof. Dr. Simone Fühles-Ubach from the Institute of Information Science, co-heads the DALI project at TH Köln’s Faculty of Cultural Sciences.

The funding program Data Literacy Education.nrw of the Donors‘ Association for German Science and the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia will financially support the Data Literacy Initiative for a period of two years in the amount of 300,000 euro. Besides TH Köln, the following universities will be sponsored and supported: RWTH Aachen, University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld, the University of Bielefeld, Ruhr-University Bochum, University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, TU Dortmund, University Duisburg-Essen, University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein, and the University Paderborn.