Opening up data science to the world through OER

Jul 15, 2022, 14:38 PM

When Teaching Associate Professor Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider (Computer Science) and Senior Instructor Karle Flanagan (Statistics) learned that data science education was going to take a front seat at the University of Illinois, they joined forces to create STAT 107, a groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary course teaching introductory data science through Python programming and statistics.

In this video, the veteran instructors and CITL faculty fellows discuss how they piloted the course with 20 students from 20 different majors.

“It quickly grew to hundreds of Illinois students,” Fagen-Ulmschneider says.

Then the pandemic shut everything down.

Instead of being deterred, he and Flanagan were inspired to create something even more innovative—Data Science Discovery, an open educational resources (OER) website containing all of the information from STAT 107, including course materials, practice problems, videos, tutorials, and more. It’s already racked up 200,000-plus views.

“This is an example of open educational resources being created here at Illinois,” Fagen-Ulmschneider says, adding there are no logins, passwords or paywalls. “Anyone in the universe can Google search or find our content … (and) see Illinois’ education displayed and learn from that.”

“And the students in our class not only get the content of the Discovery website,” Flanagan adds, “but they also get to enjoy be in labs in person, working on programming problems with TAs and other students.”

To date, the Data Science Discovery website has had more than 200,000 web views.

“That means there are 200,000 students who saw a lecture of ours and learned data science from a lecture—much larger than we could have reached from just those 1,000 Illini,” Fagen-Ulmschneider says.

You can also learn about the duo’s next collaboration—the Illinois Educational Metaverse, which will bring together shared content from faculty across campus, how it can continue to revolutionize education.

Learn more about the Data Science Discovery website, and learn more about CITL’s Faculty Fellows.