Inspire Data

Inspire Data is a software program that enables users to explore data visually rather than in the more common spreadsheet format. The program includes sample databases you can explore as well as enabling you to create your own data sets either through the typical table view or by creating an online questionnaire form to share with others to collect data. You can also import an existing data set found on the Web. The interface is designed to be more intuitive than a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel and while there are nuances to using the software, it is fairly easy to be productive right away.

Inspire Data is excellent for supporting students in exploring relationships in a data set. It lends itself well to challenge students to pose and answer their own questions. The intuitive nature of the software shifts the focus on operating the software to focusing on the process of understanding the data. It can be used in a variety content areas, although it seems that the most common applications might be in social studies, math, and science. One interesting feature enables users to create time series that show changes in data over time. For example, you could chart the price of gasoline over the last fifty years and watch the line graph change dynamically. I suspect that for some students this visual animation will enable them to see relationships they might otherwise miss. The activities included in the software range from short, in-class activities to more extended explorations.

The best way to understand the software is to look at and manipulate some of the samples included with the software. To explore the following examples, open Inspire Data and...

Additional Resources:

To download a trial version of Inspire Data for your computer, click here.
To go through a quick start tutorial for the software, click here.
To visit the Inspired Learning Community where educators share lesson plans and examples, click here.