Mobile Data Experiences

screenshot of smartphone used to teach about data
Data Cycle: Ask Questions; Collect Data; Analyze Data & Interpret findings

What is a Mobile Data Experience?

Though Mobile Data Collection, students learn how to work with Participatory Sensing (collecting data through their smart phones).  The McKinsey Global Initiative Report on Big Data says it best: “Data have become a torrent flowing into every area of the global economy.” All students need to learn to work with this torrent or they will be swept away.

What is Participatory Sensing?

Participatory sensing provides students the opportunity to experience the process of data collection and analysis in real-world contexts by:

  • Working with a group to create a survey

  • Creating their own survey(s) study

  • Exploring the concept of a “Big Question”

  • Participating in data collection as the first step in managing and interpreting data and making meaning

Why do we need to learn about data?

Working with hands on with real world data is a dynamic way, to teach students computation-based statistics and probability concepts.  It gets students to think critically about and with data.

The Experience

Students collect data using their own hand-held devices individually or in groups.  Then they examine their data along with data from professional sources, learning to generate hypotheses from their experiments.  This enables them to fit statistical and mathematical models to the data, teaching them to implement these models algorithmically, and evaluate how well they fit reality.

Engage students with experimentation

Working with data is iterative and authentically inquiry-based.   Insights are achieved through a recursive process of identifying trends in the data, allowing students to engage with the data directly by using a front end graphical interface, before moving to rigorous statistical correlation outcomes.

If you would like a demo of a smartphone data experience using ohmage for your department, or want to use it within your course, please contact Rose Rocchio at