Data Science curriculum
A University of Dar es salaam data science curriculum Data Use Story, Supported by the Tanzania Data Lab
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
In March 2017, dLab participated in the University of Dar es salaam (UDSM) research week at the college level and at University level. The dLab project was able to showcase its core activities including data trainings. Through that the UDSM as high education body saw the importance of investing in data science programme especially in the higher degree. So the journey of developing the master of data science curriculum started. The proposed M.Sc. in Data Science curriculum is a new programme that responds to growing needs for data science skilled labor and professionals to cater the emerging evidence based decision and pragmatic planning by harnessing the readily available massive data sets. UDSM has used dLab’s expertise and resources in developing this curriculum.
Data science is changing the face of our world by supporting and improving the provision of different services including services in health sectors, business intelligence, leadership etc. Due to the production of huge amount of data, the demand of knowledge of using, drawing and getting insights from these data has also increased. According to the article published by IFLScience in 2017, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day and 90% of the data available today has been produced within the past two years. Although the production of data has increased but the rate of usage of these data is very low this is due to the lack of manipulation skills of the data. There are basics skills which can be used to manipulate the data but some data use like the usage of Artificial intelligence, machine learning, business modelling requires advanced data manipulation skills. Globally, curriculum on delivering these skills (Data science) have been developed in different high level institutions with the fewer institutions in Africa for instance the University of Pretoria offers a Master of Information Technology with a stream in Big Data Science but not specifically data science. In Tanzania, data science skills will rapidly be in demand following technological adoption in new and existing business organizations faced with global competitions, leading to appetite for growth through evidence based planning and decision making.
The dLab in collaboration with College of Information and Communication Technologies(CoICT) of the University of Dar es salaam teamed up in developing the data science curriculum for the master’s degree. MSc in DataSc aims to develop skills in data acquisition, information extraction, aggregation and representation, data analysis, knowledge extraction and explanation, which are in high demand in the IT business, security and health sectors, intelligent transport, energy efficiency, planning and creative industries amongst other sectors. The course is expected to start in 2018/2019 academic year which will commence in October 2018. The co-working space at the Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) with well-established resources will be used to support the hand-on and lab-based activities to students.
The development of Msc. in Data science curriculum has involved different stakeholders including internal dLab and CoICT staffs, external stakeholders from government and private sectors as well as individual. Some of the stakeholders involved have data science skills and they were able to advise specifically on the course contents and course delivered mode. The dLab staffs have contributed in providing skills especially in structuring the curriculum. The process has followed the steps described in figure 1.
Outcomes and Impact
The development and implementation of this curriculum will contribute in:
- Strengthening the data science capacity
- Increasing the pool of data scientists in Tanzania.
- Enhancing data use and hence improve data ecosystem in the country as well in the regional.
- Unveiling better solutions to old and current problems in the private and government institutions.
- Improving existing processes and products and hence improve the standards of living.
The master programme will be hosted by the College of Information and Communication Technologies(CoICT) of the University of Dar es salaam in the department of Computer Science and Engineering(CSE). CoICT will be responsible in the implementation of the curriculum and running the courses. The college will make sure the availability of Lecturers and other resources needed in smooth in the implementation of this programme.
The dLab project will act as a conduit between the Master’s students and the public and private sectors (through the dissertation or the challenge-based course), as part of practical training is pivotal for this MSc programme. The dLab will also offer space, expertise and other resources needed to conduct this programme.
The project will be involved in improving the skills and pedagogical competence of staff, renewing teaching structures and materials as well as providing extended professional research/study visits to students.
The project will provide the environment for linking with the stakeholders involved, understanding existing challenges, and collaborative working between experienced developer’s /data analysts and postgraduate students to address existing data and information challenges.