Since the launch of Indiana’s Data Proficiency Program in May of 2021, state Chief Data Officer Josh Martin said, more than 1,800 state employees across state agencies have taken the program and earned badges in data literacy.
At the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear conference on Monday, Martin said the idea of building an in-house program geared toward data came about during the pandemic.
“Really, one of the big things that came out during the pandemic for us was that data literacy globally is really low,” Martin said.
That realization prompted his office, which is housed inside of the state’s Management Performance Hub, to begin offering a voluntary data education route. Martin also said that using the word “proficiency” instead of “literacy” for the program was to help put a positive spin on it and encourage state employees to get engaged.
“But really what we focused on is very approachable, easy commendations,” Martin said. “We’re going to meet all of our state employees where they’re at on their journey.”
Most of the program’s lessons involve a short video, and the state is using online courses from Arizona State University, he said.
“It’s been tremendously successful for us. We’re getting ready to wrap up the third and last section of those [sessions]. We’ve had over 1,800 state employees that have gotten at least one batch through that. They’ve been emailing me directly thanking me for it, and they’re very much hungry,” he said.
To build program, the agency used a “whole state” approach for deciding what courses to offer and how to handle outreach.
He said the program’s courses use open data available on the state’s Data Hub, allowing employees to gain an education using data they might use at work.
“So it takes more than just one number or one model to look at that — the data tells a story,” Martin said. “And you have to be able to put that together, you have to be able to understand that you have that story.”