Google.org supported programme by Riga TechGirls and my participation in it as a speaker and lead mentor for the digital development workshop on Information and data literacy

This February I got yet another experience by participating in a programme launched by Riga TechGirls and supported by Google.org (“Google Impact challenge” grant), in addition to local supporters such as the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia, the Ministry of Culture, Riga city council (Rīgas Dome), titled “Human on technology” for more than 2000 Latvian teachers with the aim of disrupting technophobia and provide them with digital skills that are “must-have” in this digital world/ era. I have acted as both the lecturer and the lead mentor for the digital development workshop held as a part of the “Information and data literacy” module.

Hope the knowledge and experience I have shared will be beneficial and improve their lives, work-related and daily activities, and now they will be able “to train the “Google””. This, however is a reference to the title of my talk (and “How to train your dragon?” animated film) since I was asked to speak about working with information and entitled my lecture Work with information or how to train your “Google”?” During this lecture we discussed tips&tricks for data and information search, data analysis, fact checking in the digital environment, spoke about the “art” of searching for information in different browsers – how to create search requests, how to search more precisely so that searches are more accurate, including but not limited to the build of queries with searching operators for advanced search. And of course, we spoke about how the search engine works, i.e. what is the process of searching the information from the crawlers to indexing and sorting results returned to the end-user and different algorithms they are based on, and covered a rich list of search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ecosia, DuckDuckGo, Yandex, Baidu, Seznam and many more by trying to understand what is the difference between them and how they can be classified (i.e. security- and safety- oriented, regional search engines etc.).

The second meeting with the audience took place a bit later as the last activity of the “Information and data literacy” module, where I acted as the lead mentor of this digital development workshop. Here I delivered a lecture (mostly of practical nature), followed by splitting participants in rooms, where they were asked to complete tasks we have prepared to them and discuss questions they could have (both related and not related to these tasks, thereby providing the support to resolve their daily problems), where 11 female mentors, including myself, were actively involved. We worked hard, but it seems we were able to help combating challenges teachers face on a daily basis in their daily activities (from data sorting and organization of email to backup creation and their further maintenance), and that is great!!!

During this workshop we have discussed how to structure your data more wisely, effectively and efficiently with their further re-use in both local and cloud environments with the focus on OneDrive and Google Drive, which are used by teachers more frequently. We have covered a lot of tips&tricks for both the creation of their own pre-defined systems, which I have recommended to develop keeping in mind FAIR principles (this was an attempt to provide them with a brief overview of these principles, when and how they should be used etc. and why both FAIR and openness, including but not limited to open science, matter) and filling them with the information found applying previous knowledge acquired during the lecture I have delivered before (the use of different search engines (at least just to test), building of queries and use of operators to limit the resulting set and make it more search query-compliant etc.). We have also referred to other curious methods and techniques and took a brief overview on stuff like extensions for browsers, including those allowing video download from Youtube, Google Lens, data export and import “from-to and between” cloud storage and local system, image and video search in different search engines, verification of facts, searching for academic and scientific literature and many more…

It was an amazing experience of working with teachers – the target audience of this programme – and even more pleasant to hear that they will (continuously) apply these knowledge and practical experience gained during this weekend at their workplace (and outside it). We continue receiving their comments that they have started doing this immediately during the workshop and continue doing this today as the first activity to be done when arriving at the workplace AND everything works as expected or even better!!! It is the best assessment we could hope for!

I am very grateful for all those comments left for both the Riga TechGirls team and even more grateful for those left for me – I am very happy that both my lecture and the following hand-outs were both easy to understand & track (this audience was something really new for me in terms of both the nature – teachers, and amount – around 1 000 people (90 Zoom rooms for practical assignments and discussions) during the day in three time slots), and valuable at the same time!!! I am very glad to hear that teachers would likely meet me again – I will be glad to meet you again, too!!!

Riga TechGirls, mentors and supportive words for attendees

Thank you, Riga TechGirls team – the first community in Latvia aimed at educating and inspiring women and girls in IT, empowering them to be architects of the future – for your invitation and this valuable experience!

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