Big Data Debate Kit

Project aims:

This debate kit was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland.

The kit discusses whether we should sequence the genomes of one million people, to find out more about living longer and healthier lives. The aim of the kit is to show students how Big Data can be applied in biology and biomedicine; and to encourage them to think about some of the main concerns surrounding the ethics of Big Data.

Summary of activity:

2,000 kits were printed in September 2014: 746 were posted out to UK teachers who requested them, 362 were posted to schools in the Republic of Ireland (ROI), and 105 were distributed in Northern Ireland (NI) through W5-online STEMNET Contract Holder.
On top of these, 80 kits were distributed in teacher meetings and conferences, 50 were distributed by the BBSRC and 22 were distributed among the project team. Debate kits were also sent to 100 teachers who took part in I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here in November 2014 in the teacher packs. Finally, we sent kits to 95 STEMNET Contract holders to distribute them in their region.
A PDF version of the debate kit is also available to download from our website. Up to date, the Big Data Kit has been downloaded by 174 different people.

Evaluation approach:

All teachers who had requested a Kit were sent an email to ask them if they had used it. Teachers who clicked on the NO link were taken to a survey asking them why they hadn’t used the Big Data debate kit. Teachers who clicked on the YES link were taken to an online survey about their use and opinion of the Kit.

In order to get an accurate report of how many kits were used we asked a random sample of 100 teachers who’d requested a Big Data Debate Kit if they had used the it. We then followed up non-responders with reminder emails, and a phone call.

What went well:

1. 43% of the teachers who requested the kit have used it this school year.

2. 96% of teachers confirmed that their students are now aware of how Big Data can be used in Biology and Biomedicine.

3. 56% of teachers used the kit several times and 71% lent it to their colleagues.

What was learned:

1. 25% of teachers who requested a debate kit forgot about it, and didn't use it.

2. We will follow up with teachers who hadn't used the kit, but said they would use it in the future.

Top tips and advice for others

1. Use a random selection of users in order to avoid self-selection when measuring the usage of free educational resources.

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