Data Site Criteria for Education

The DLESE Data Access Working Group (DAWG), building on work from the data, tool, visualization strand at the 2004 DLESE Annual meeting, has pulled together a provisional list of criteria for evaluating the educational effectiveness of data sites.

These criteria are appropriate for the broad range of data-related resources that support teaching about the Earth system but are not in themselves activities. These include but are not limited to data, data access portals, data visualization tools, data visualizations (including maps and images).models, model data and visualizations, data processing sites, data location sites. They employ a wide range of approaches to delivering information including different technologies for delivery and communication, different kinds of content and levels of data processing, and different approaches to describing and annotating their information

For example, all of the following would be considered data sites:

  • Source for data, available via ftp, an OGC web service,OPeNDAP, etc.
  • A data location site such as the Global Change Master Directory ( This site may be offline. )
  • the front page of a site that allows online data exploration directly through the web browser (using any number of techniques/tools/protocols behind the scenes to deliver the experience to the user).
  • a page explaining the nature of a small dataset with links to download it in CSV form or as a GeoTIFF.
  • a page with quicktime animations of time series evolution of some data.

The term curriculum developer is used here broadly to include anyone developing an educational experience using the data. This would include independant learners as well as educators.


  1. Data site allows curriculum developers to find and use appropriate data of interest easily.
    • Level of knowledge for use is clear
    • Information is provided on relevance of data to problems of societal, educational or scientific significance
    • Site points to examples of educational use of data
    • Data are reliably available and archived for long term access as appropriate.
    • Interface to, and organization of, the data is end-user friendly
    • Descriptive information (e.g. metadata) should be audience appropriate.
  2. Data site allows curriculum developers to ascertain the quality of data and determine the impact of data quality on the certainty of their conclusions.
    • Information is provided about overall data collection, quality, reduction, and limitations. Data site includes sources of error and limitations of collection process as well as inaccuracies/ uncertainties from models/ particular choice of representations.
    • Information about accuracy of individual data sets/points/ analyses is provided
  3. Data is provided in ways that facilitate manipulation through a variety of tools. This may include:
    • providing the data in common formats that are accessible via desktop tools (spreadsheets, GISs, image analysis programs)
    • providing tools that are directly integrated into or downloadable from the site
    • exposing the data via protocols that make it accessible through 3rd party tools.
    These tools should be easily acquired, easy to use, and reliable.
  4. Data site supports, through these tools, data manipulation to answer questions by
    • using data contained within the site or combined with data from other sites
    • generating appropriate visualizations
    • comparing student's own data to that in the site