NZ ranks number one for education

I’ve been reading with interest the results of the 2010 Legatum Prosperity Index, which ranks New Zealand number one in education, just ahead of Australia in second place and Finland third!

The Prosperity Index™ assesses 110 countries, accounting for over 90 percent of the world’s population, and is based on 89 different variables, each of which has a demonstrated effect on economic growth or on personal wellbeing.This year’s overall leader was Norway, with New Zealand making it into the list of the top 30 “strong ranked countries”.

The Index consists of eight sub-indexes, each of which represents a fundamental aspect of prosperity. The Education sub-index demonstrates how access to education, as measured by levels of educational enrolment rates that are equal for both girls and boys, allows citizens to develop their potential and contribute productively to their society.

One of the things that intrigues me about this site is the way in which you can interact with the data to explore your own assumptions or ideas. Whatever you may think about the data itself, the prosperiscope provides the opportunity to use various filters to explore the data further, and to view the results in a range of graphical representations. I could imagine this being a very useful resource at secondary level (eg for maths with statistics, geography or economics).

8 thoughts on “NZ ranks number one for education

  1. As you mention “The Education sub-index demonstrates how access to education, as measured by levels of educational enrolment rates that are equal for both girls and boys, allows citizens to develop their potential and contribute productively to their society.” It also “uses pupil to teacher ratio, as well as measures of citizens’ perception of education, to assess quality.” Unfortunately, none of this offers much in terms of direct (even indirect?) measure of quality of education. Nice graphs, yes. However the absence of any information about the way the data have been collected greatly limits their value.

    Comparison between countries has become somewhat popular. Another recent addition: http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/compare/NZ/FI. Nothing to say about education though as they rely on more objective data.

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    1. Thanks for your comments re the integrity of the data used in this report – this is precisely why I believe we need to be working with our students to help them understand the significance of data and how it can be manipulated etc. I love the site you’ve shared – I can imagine hours of useful exploration of this with students.

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  2. Would love to discuss more how it can be done. Provide ways to visualize data that are directly relevant to kids. I sent you an email before the xmas break to ask if it was possible to meet-up to discuss some ideas of this type. I didn’t get a reply. There were links in email, it may have ended up in spam box. Would REALLY love opportunity to discuss. Possible?

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  3. For teachers to start their own visualisation. Google recently added a new project to its lab. DataWiki. You can create datasets easily and a basic search interface will be automatically created to let you interact with data. http://code.google.com/p/datawiki/

    Another tool to investigate is the ability to interact with google spreadsheets with webservices: http://farinspace.com/saving-form-data-to-google-spreadsheets/. One possible use is the automatic generation of graphs based on data entered by kids on the spreadsheet. Another possible use is to create a personalized clicker device for your classroom (assuming your are in a computer lab, with kids having access to computers or mobile devices). You ask a question. Kids answer anonymously, on their device, their get immediate feedback on their screen. When they all answered, you show them a distribution graph (with the rule that if less than 50% got it right, you clarify the answer). Or you keep the graph for yourself.

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  4. Graph generation itself can be done easily with any opensource javascript library. Most of them provide simple ways to specify the data list. I provided an example at: http://jsdo.it/widged/barGraph – This could be relevant to: s90641, Determine the trend for time series data, level 3,1S, credits 3, Internal

    Adapting such plugins don’t require complex skills. Probably within the reach of any kids enrolling in some program to help them learn basics of programming. This can also be used as an assignment: s18740 Create a simple computer program to meet a set brief, level 2, credits 3, Internal or s18741, Create a computer program to provide a solution, level 3

    Once the plugin behaves as expected, non-technical users only need to edit the html portion. A webform of some kind could be used to make the task even less confusing to first graders.

    I haven’t tried it out much, but there is an open source project providing more complex visualisation of relevance to education: http://www.simile-widgets.org/. Plenty of open source visualisation software exist but they tend to be more specialized and more difficult to use in an education context.

    Making me think. Worth looking into Stats R http://www.r-project.org/. You can write and save scripts that will automatically generate graphs for data. I had used it a few years ago to rapidly generate distribution graphs for a survey on webCT use in my department – http://widged.com/labs/webCT/page_intro.html. The survey itself had been prepared and ran by students.

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  5. Information expanded at: http://wikieducator.org/New_Zealand/Information_Visualisation

    I will soon start working on concrete tools and activities and I am truly interested in how to try and make them useful to NZ schools. If you can help, let me know. I found a way to integrate dynamic activities in wikieducator: http://wikieducator.org/index.php?title=User:Widged and will work on Moodle’s integration (true plugin this time) later this week. A bar graph is shown on that page. Data tables could be added as well, see for instance: http://tablesorter.com/docs/. You can then bring everything on one page and put the focus primarily on the content rather than the technology (which is what tends to happen when kids are to use different programs for different purposes).

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