Back in the old days, statistics was considered a political science and used to describe government and political arrangements of states. Today, statistics is best known as the science of learning from data. It deals with data collection, analysis, organization, presentation and interpretation. It is applied to many different fields such as medicine, biology, astronomy, engineering, economy, marketing…etc.
Let’s face it, this sounds like a typical introduction found in almost every statistics course book or newbie learning guide. Most teachers will approve of such introduction. It offers clear facts on the meaning and importance of the subject. There is just one minor glitch. Odds are that most students will find this introduction boring. The probability of their falling in love with statistics after such introduction is very low. Of course, this is just a hypothesis, so feel free to experiment.
All joking aside, statistics is a serious and an increasingly important science in the age of big data we are living in. Manipulating data is quite demanding and requires extensive knowledge. As a matter of fact, data scientists are among the most sought after professionals today and this trend will only grow in the future.
Having said that, here are six ways the Internet can help you teach statistics in a way it sparks your students’ interest:
1. Share a Statistics Joke
Start your class with a witty joke. It will help students relax and see the humorous, cool side of statistics. There are quite a few websites out there that list statistics jokes and humor like this one or this. You can use them for inspiration. As a matter of fact, you can encourage your students to search for similar jokes and share them with the class.
2. Engage Them with Online Statistics Games, Calculators and Tools
Games are always a good and easy way to adopt knowledge. You can find a lot of interesting online statistics games and activities for kids to help you teach statistics and engage your students while doing so. They can have fun with calculating the lottery winning numbers, making pie charts, bar graphs, histograms, and much more.
3. Use Social Networking Sites for Statistics Assignments
One of the easiest ways to get your students interested in the complex subject of statistics is to show them how their favourite social networking websites can be used for statistical research project. For example, get them to use free online tools and apps to poll their friends or let them collect data or assign them to post questions and seek answers from statistics experts on a site like Quora.
4. Recommend Online Reading Resources
Online reading resources can be more interesting and less intimidating for the students than regular study books. Thankfully, today there are many quality blogs and websites that can help you teach statistics. By using some of the following blogs you will deal with data in a fun, and yet highly professional, expert manner: AnnMaria’s Blog, Freakonometrics, Flowing Data, Stats Blog.
5. Teach Statistics with Online Videos
Videos on YouTube and Facebook are all the craze. You can use this to your students’ benefit. For example, even if you don’t have the time to create and share your own video tutorials, you can search for and find quality videos to teach your students an important statistics skill. For example, most statisticians use a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. You can share some how-to videos that will help them master these important tools.
6. Introduce Online Tools for Creating Data Visualizations and Infographics
Infographics are almost as popular as videos on the Internet. You can use this to demonstrate the power and importance of data in the age of information overload. All that available information needs to be made sense of and presented in an appealing way. Statistics experts and professionals often stand behind valuable, high quality infographics. To spark your students interest even more, you can introduce them to some of the many online (even free) tools for transforming data into visualizations and actually get them to use them in an assignment.
Have you tried any of these methods for making statistics fun or do you use some other techniques? Please share your ideas in the comments or tweet to @PDFElite!