5 places to find data online

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For today’s Friday Five, let’s take a look at data. Knowing where to get reliable data is important to teachers, students, and researchers alike. Here are five places where you can get your hands on data for use in proposals, planning, and school projects:

1. Wolfram|Alpha

Wolfram|Alpha is a fascinating alternative to blind Google searches. Wolfram|Alpha’s data set is curated and cited. It’s an excellent resource for demographic information but can also do economic comparisons, complex math, nutritional calculations, physics, and more. For fun, try entering your birthday as a search term to find notable people who share that birthday and other trivial facts.

2. Data.gov

Data.gov is a tool from the U.S. government providing raw access to public information. This site’s specialty is to just provide the numbers, but by providing them in open, standardized, machine-readable formats, the feds invite others to create tools to parse and interpret those numbers.

3. This We Know

For those of you who, like me, don’t want to do that much heavy lifting to parse data, This We Know is a streamlined presentation of the same government-collected data on communities. Currently, This We Know has lots of information on pollutants, crime, and unemployment, though over time their goal is to index all public data into a user-friendly search.

4. Google Public Data

Of Course, Google provides its own interface to specific public data sets (in particular, unemployment information). If you enter a search query that Google recognizes as a request for public data, you’ll be given the option to view this information graphically, with the ability to compare across states, counties, and the country as a whole. Watch a short video to learn more about Google’s public data options. Hopefully they expand this tool to present other types of data.

5. Collect your own

There are quite a few tools out there for collecting data online. Commercial options like SurveyMonkey and Zoomerang are popular. If you’re not collecting particularly sensitive information, you can also collect data for free using the Forms option in Google Docs. Forms is easy to use and saves input into an Excel-compatible spreadsheet. If you’ve got your own server and would prefer to host surveys yourself, check out Lime Survey.

If you’re working in a CLC® school, keep an eye out for Stratepedia’s own Dossier. It’s currently available to a limited number of schools, but our goal is to extend our collection of research-based data collection tools to other schools working with CLC and SIM®.

Have a great weekend!

Photo: Ian-S on Flickr

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Aaron Sumner

Aaron Sumner is the Director of Technology for Research and Development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. He has worked in web development and instructional technology since 1994.