Analíticas de aprendizaje: Cuestiones sobre ética, datos y políticas educativas

Actualmente, y como acertadamente lo define Ozga (2016) estamos gobernados por números, los cuales miden diferentes aspectos de nuestras de vidas, nos comparan y nos asignan en categorías, definiendo nuestro valor, nuestra efectividad y, en una miríada de formas, trabajan para informar o construir lo que somos hoy, reduciéndonos a sujetos-datos. En estos días se habla mucho en educación sobre algunos términos, como rendimiento y desempeño escolar, datos sobre las escuelas, estudiantes y docentes, brechas sociales y de aprendizaje, (des)igualdad, discriminación, y algoritmos, y sobretodo, la tendencia a reducir las actividades de aprendizaje y enseñanza a datos.

Según Williamson (2016), la educación parece estar gobernada por datos, y por ende, es necesario cuestionar y examinar críticamente, los métodos y enfoques utilizados por los algoritmos y los científicos de datos, ya que sus afirmaciones e informes pueden tener un impacto en el desarrollo de políticas, poniendo en riesgo a grupos vulnerables de la población.

Las analíticas de aprendizaje (AA), son según Siemens (2013)  “la medición, recopilación, análisis e informe de datos sobre los estudiantes y sus contextos, con el fin de comprender y optimizar el aprendizaje y los entornos en los que se produce”. Y he aquí una palabra clave, contexto, el cual se puede entender como la situación y background socioeconómico de una persona, por esto es que hay un tema ético que no deja de darme vueltas en la cabeza: El qué se espera obtener a través de la medición del rendimiento escolar, y del análisis de la información (en forma de datos) que proveen los estudiantes y los docentes no solo a sus instituciones sino que a los gobiernos,y, muchas veces, a las corporaciones privadas que se encargan del análisis de estos datos a través de algoritmos.

Los algoritmos (conocidos también como armas de destrucción matemáticas – O’Neill, 2016) son utilizados para recopilar y analizar datos, y estos, pueden alterar las actividades sociales, políticas, económicas, y culturales, y por supuesto, la educación, ya que , según Williamson (2016), los indicadores bajo los cuales gobiernan y evalúan las escuelas son codificados en dispositivos producidos por agencias comerciales las cuales, mediante procesos algorítmicos de medición, categorizan y clasifican la enseñanza y el aprendizaje, otorgando el juicio profesional a instrumentos de vigilancia codificados.

De acuerdo con Alevizou (2017) la actual tendencia  a la dataficación de la educación permea  naturaleza misma del aprendizaje a través de medios digitales, ya que estos proveen información (datos) que pueden “predecir” el éxito y fracaso escolar” mediante analíticas de aprendizaje (AA).

Las AA conllevan problemas éticos y morales, ya que, según Willis (2014)  las actuales iniciativas de para monitorear estudiantes (y docentes) pueden tener consecuencias imprevistas, porque no tenemos claro aún como las corporaciones que analizan estos datos pueden usar estos en el futuro,  ya que el mal uso de los datos educativos, puede ensanchar los prejuicios y estigmatizar a las personas.

Un ejemplo de esto, es el como se describe a las escuelas, ergo, a sus estudiantes, si las escuelas son clasificadas como insuficientes, inadecuadas, mediocres, buenas o excelentes, así serán clasificados sus estudiantes (y los docentes), ya que si la calidad de la educación se reduce a estos criterios, y esta información es retratada en plataformas de acceso público, estos criterios pueden fácilmente ser usados indebidamente por compañías que se alimentan de algoritmos,como aseguradoras, empresas, agencias de empleo y selección de personal, universidades, proveedores de salir, estigmatizando a los estudiantes de escuelas calificadas como insuficientes o inadecuadas, ya que es muy probable que estos provengan de zonas de escasos recursos, alto desempleo y poca inversión del estado, perpetuando el círculo de la pobreza y marginación.

Actualmente, dentro de los parámetros en los cuáles actúan las AA, aquellos estudiantes provenientes de escuelas insuficientes o inadecuadas que logren acceder a la educación superior, serán considerados objetos de estudio, datos a estudiar, ya que las AA, en la educación universitaria tienen targets, estudiar a quienes tengan más probabilidades de desertar o de fracasar académicamente. Estos datos, en conjunto con datos perimetrales, como asistencia a clase, resultados académicos y uso de dispositivos de aprendizaje (campus virtuales, redes sociales, y dispositivos conectados a la red de la universidad) analizados a través de algoritmos (por corporaciones que estudian big data) crean un perfil digital de las personas, el cual, puede ser utilizado por terceros sin el consentimiento de las personas para entregar información a otras compañías, empresas y corporaciones.

Los datos sobre los estudiantes, pueden ser obtenidos desde diversas fuentes, por ejemplo, Piattoeva (2015) analiza los efectos de la digitalización, la cientificación y la datafición de la política educativa en el contexto específico de la Federación Rusa. En particular, la videovigilancia durante los exámenes públicos, obligando a escuelas y examinadores individuales a convertirse en dóciles productores de datos, argumentando, que la tecnología de vigilancia y ciberseguridad en las instituciones educativas, reproduce la desconfianza y genera líneas de ensamblaje de datos, para lograr la objetividad.

Para Decuypere, Ceulemens, and Simons (2014), en el contextos universitarios, la tecnologización  de los espacios enseñanza pueden dataficar las practicas académicas, poniendo en peligro la libertad de cátedra y convirtiendo interacciones humanas y de intercambio de conocimientos en elementos a cuantificar mediante algoritmos. Según Alevizou (2017) a medida que las tendencias de la tecnología y los discursos competitivos describen el pasaje de la sociedad de la información a la sociedad datificada, con una obsesión por los “me gusta”, las clasificaciones y las métricas, la pos-verdad y la desconfianza hacia la experiencia cada vez más prominente, los medios, los algoritmos y las estrategias educativas se vuelven más complejos que nunca.

Si pensamos que todos estos ejes convergen en el diseño de políticas educativas, ya que los datos educativos [evidencia] se utilizan para desarrollar políticas, por lo que debemos considerarles instrumentales y operativos, poniendo especial atención al marco ético en el cual operan sus componentes técnicos y sociales, incluidas las AA, ya que los estudios que se publiquen utilizando esta información, pueden configurar la percepción social que se tiene de la educación, instrumentalizando política y mediaticamente los resultados obtenidos a través del análisis algorítmico de estos datos.

Por ende, es nuestro deber cuestionar no solo el porque de la necesidad de recolectar datos de estudiantes y el cruce de estos datos con otros de índole social, y su efecto en las políticas educativos, sino que también el marco ético en el cual estos datos son recolectados y analizados, entregando a los estudiantes las herramientas para comprender como se les está quantificando (y dataficando), para no ser objetos de estudio pasivos sino sujetos activos capaces controlar la información que producen y cuestionar los métodos a través de los cuales se les estudia, para evitar que su desempeño académico y sus historial socioeconómico tenga un impacto nocivo en su futuro como ciudadanía y como individuos.

Referencias

Alevizou, G. (2017). From mediation to datafication: theorizing evolving trends in media, technology and learning. http://oro.open.ac.uk/51564/1/eBOOK-TICPE-2017-ALEVIZOU-EN%20%281%29.pdf

Decuypere, M., Ceulemens, C and M. Simons (2014). Schools in the Making: Mapping Digital Spaces of Evidence. Journal ofEducation Policy 29 (5): 617–639. https://doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2013.865081

Ozga, J. (2016). Trust in numbers? Digital education governance and the inspection process. European educational research journal, 15(1), 69-81. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474904115616629 

Piattoeva, N. (2015) Elastic numbers: National examinations data as a technology of government. Journal of Education Policy 30(3): 316–334. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02680939.2014.937830.

Siemens, G. (2013). Learning Analytics: The Emergence of a Discipline. American Behavioral Scientist, 57 (10): 1380–1400. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764213498851

Williamson, B. (2016). Digital education governance: An introduction. European Educational Research Journal, 15(1), 3–13. http://doi.org/10.1177/1474904115616630

Willis, J. E. (2014). Learning Analytics and Ethics : A Framework beyond Utilitarianism. Educause Review Online, (July/August), 1–7. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/learning-analytics-and-ethics-framework-beyond-utilitarianism 

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Why Open Data matters in Higher Education

Open Data is a topic worth exploring considering that the phenomena of data (open, closed, big, small, classified, confidential, etc.) is here to stay and its disrupting the way we understand politics, policies, phenomena, social problems, the media and the sciences, yet, at Higher Education Level, we still perceive that there is a lack – detachment – disinterest from Universities to embrace the potential transformational power of Open Data not only for its value as educational resource, and as tool to further developing Open Science, but as a tool to engage the University community in participating democratically towards improving the HE current system leading to innovation and accountability.

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We can see three main strands regarding Open Data in higher education:

  1. Its inner educational value: Open Data, allow students can learn to solve problems, to create knowledge, to engage in participatory research, to improve their media literacies, and to learn to connect with the key element of what Van Es & Schäfer (2017) call a datafied society.
  2. Its scientific value: Open Data is at the heart of Open Science, as it facilitates not only scientific research but also, promotes scientific transparency, facilitating others to reproduce studies and also, allowing other to mix and reuse data towards further developing knowledge in different fields as mentioned in this publication by  Bartling & Friesike (2014).
  3. Its transparency and accountability value: Public Universities must be accountable as any other public body, towards ensuring that the community understand how money is spent, how people is employed, which are the ratios of enrolment or contracting amongst different groups,

In relation with point 1, During the last few years, I have been going around researching about Open Data and its use as Open Educational Resources and I have wrote some stuff about it. This paper written with Leo Havemann focuses on the development of transversal skills using Open Data, while this other one written with Annalisa Manca, Chiara Ciociola and Fabio Nascimbeni aims at pointing the role of Critical Pedagogies when designing Open Data led strategies for education. Also, with Leo we edited a book of case studies portraying the use of Open Data as OER.

But, the landscape of Data is growing and growing, so this year, at OER17, we focused our studies in the impact that Open Data can have to understand how media and democracy as we see these elements as key to enhance social participation, therefore, universities need to start considering Open Data to engage students and academics towards fostering activities that can have an impact in the society by embedding research-led activities in the curricula towards developing social and scientific transversal skills.

Regarding point 2, Open Data in Open Science means that scientific dissemination is not confined only to the impact of their publications, but also, to the publication of data that can complement them and that can be used both by academics teaching in the field or by other scholars willing to replicate the study or to further research on the case presented by the data by mixing it and reusing it towards developing new knowledge.

In relation with the 3rd point, we need to consider that data is produced by Universities in various shapes and forms, researchers produce scientific data, students produce data since they apply for a course at the University, from their school results, their personal background, their achievements and failures, their studies, their satisfaction and their assignments, academics produce data about their teaching, management produces data about all sorts of issues, including financial data and states produces data in regards of the use and cost of managing the campuses, but most if this data is A)not available B)very well hidden C)not publishable D)confidential, therefore, not even the members of their own academic community can access this information to study it and to participate in instances that may allow them to improve the university, from its governance to the skills developed amongst the different actors.

Data produced within the universities walls, once opened, can improve transparency leading towards building trust in their communities. Last week an interesting report was published on Open data on universities – New fuel for transformation, this report, summarises quite well the opportunities and challenges of opening up data at HE institutions, and to do so, Universities UK published last year a guide called Open Data in Higher Education: An introductory guide, which provides guidance  for Universities willing to improve their quality and services using data oriented strategies.

When the community has access to the data, and their data analysis capabilities are developed, trust in senior governance can be improved, but also, people can act towards improving situations that they consider may need to be addressed. If universities open up their data, and the community is welcomed to analyse it and report upon it, it could help to formally address issues regarding race and gender by showcasing the lack of people for different backgrounds and of females in senior management and the gaps in earning amongst different groups, can also improve cost-efficiency management of the institutions (energy costs, purchase of technology, campus management) but also, can help fighting nepotism and corruption in the alma mater (yep, being there, seen that), and ensuring that the university is run to the best interest of the community (local and global).

For us, embracing open data at Universities, can lead to certain benefits, such as innovating at pedagogical level by developing transversal skills to students, broadening the impact of the research as data can be considered citable materials and to improve university governance, therefore improving the universities in each on their core strands.

We will be meeting next week in Costa Rica at ConDatos, to discuss this and other issues regarding Open Data, also, we will be at the University of Costa Rica running an Open Data workshop for academics, following up on the workshop we did with ILDA and Núcleo REA last year the the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. If you want to know more about our work on capacity building for academics in Open Data, just let us know (@jatenas @juanibelbis & @idatosabiertos on twitter), as we are keen to keep exploring this area.

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Open Education in Palestine: A tool for liberation

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Palestine, to the West Bank to visit our OpenMed partners for the Palestine OER strategy Forum. Palestine, as land, is not always available in the modern maps,  because if you search for it in Google Maps, you can see the West Bank and Gaza, but its name, State of Palestine  it has been simply wiped out from today’s most popular cartographic search engine. So due to it’s political history, this Open Education trip has let me thinking about what I am doing, and why….

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Our trip started in Ramallah, a beautiful and vibrant city, were you can see the Mediterranean sea from distance, but if you were born there, and you don’t have the right credentials, you don’t hold the right to get there, so you can only see the sea from  the top the city, but you are separated from it because there is a wall.

The first day we visited Nablus and its university [An-Najah], where we were welcomed with cardamom infused coffee and kunefe, and we were told about the story and the current situation of HE in Palestine, they explained us how it works and how many students they have, how do they teach and how they are innovating, despite lack of access to things we normally take for granted, like internationalisation, as they cannot have visiting students because the visas granted are shorter than the semesters, and because there are very little visas granted for foreign academics.

Our trip continued to Jerusalem, the holy land, we took a taxi that transferred us to the first checkpoint of the day, because Palestinian cars are not allowed to circulate in Israeli roads. We crossed the checkpoint by foot (me in crutches) and I must say, that having to do this myself reminded me on how fortunate I am. I was born in Chile, therefore I hold a Chilean passport and I can go almost whatever I want without a visa, but also, I hold the British citizenship, and as such, I can move freely across almost every country, with very little exceptions without asking for permission. Crossing a checkpoint, from the perspective of a free citizen is overwhelming, because you stand on a queue, you are surrounded by fences, and when you manage to cross that metallic revolving door, your items are scanned and you must pass a metal detector and then, you are asked why you are there, in my case, and despite the politeness of the border officer, I did feel immensely sad.

Jerusalem, once you reach it takes you back in time, is lively, and vibrant, and magic, and crazy, the colours, the aroma, the voices, and sometimes you don’t know if you are in the past, the present or the future, and even though when you are not a spiritual person (like me) you feel that there is something special and magic in that city, where every stone you touch means something to someone, and where peace, faith and devotion can be seen in every corner.

From Jerusalem we moved to Bethlehem, and again the place seemed magic to me, because you realise that if Jesus was born in 2017 he will be a Palestinian, therefore he may need to hold a permission to cross to Jerusalem and he and his parents will be subject to checkpoints and scrutiny before entering Jerusalem, and you think why this is all so unfair, because there is the Nativity Church, and then, there is the wall, and there is a checkpoint that separates two cities that are holy, sacred and still alive. Once you see the wall, that wall, your heart breaks, you don’t understand why, and your head starts spinning, and while it spins, you have to cross another checkpoint, by foot, to get back to Ramallah.

The day of the Palestine OER strategy forum started with our Palestinian colleagues telling us what they are doing and us telling them about OpenMed, but there was one presentation that really inspired me, called Open Education for Palestine in which professor Marwan Tarazi stated that Open Education is a tool for liberation. He mentioned that under the current occupation, openness becomes essential to Palestine at philosophical level, and that the educators in Palestine need to open up because, in his words “if you don’t open up, someone will do under their own terms, therefore, if you don’t have an agenda, someone else will do“.

His presentation let me thinking, why I do what I do in the way I do it, I do believe in Openness, yes, but I never considered openness as a tool for liberation, yes for social justice, yes as an instrument for active citizenship, or as a tool to promote human rights, and this is not just about Open Education, but also concerns Open Data and Open Access, and also, Open Science, and his thoughts got me inspired, because sometimes the liberation has to do with becoming free from colonial and dominant perspectives, when we do teach or train communities in countries which are under the [awful] global south euphemism, we are liberating us/them from a discurse that is oppressive, allowing people and countries to grow accordingly to their own culture, telling stories from their own perspective and not playing the economy game imposed by the neoliberal rule.

The realities of these countries are diverse, as such is their culture, therefore access to material goods and to decent life standards are subject to the oppression of neoliberalism, capitalism, and predatory economic models which affect the access to basic human rights, proper education, a good and strong health system, an income that allows you to feed your loved ones without having to work in infra-human conditions.

When we do Open (Education, Data, Government, Science and Access) we need to consider that certain rules are better skipped, in the case of Open Education there is a tendency that does not exist in other Open fields, which is to consider Open just what is under the 5 Rs, therefore OER tends to mean resources are openly licensed and follow OE rules as if this was a dogma, but Open means to me, able to share your content, to detach your research from predatory – corporate publishers and to ignore for example the University Rankings, because their metrics are in a system that may not be helping to achieve success under each region or countries our own terms, because the rules are white and Anglo-Saxon, and each country and region tend to play at other rhythms, and ways of work.

Opening up means to me to share, to do things in a transparent way, to collaborate, to support and to provide the tools for educators and students to be critical thinkers, to challenge and to question, to become communities and not to follow a rule that tells you if you are open enough according to someone else’s agenda, so just be open, under your own terms, share, distribute, communicate, participate, engage, thinking that before Open rules there are human rights, and that accessing quality education is one of these.

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PS1: Thanks to Birzeit University and An Najah Universities for the invitation, specially to Rania, Rula and Saida, you are very inspiring women, also to Abdellatif and Marwan, this event has been by far the most inspiring I have ever attended.

PS2: Thanks to Cristina, Fabio,Daniel, Isidro, Katherine, Sarah, Javier, Antonio  and to the rest of the OpenMed team, you people are amazing.

PS3: Any typos, blame the minions, they are not good at grammar because they don’t like to go to school.

PS4: All the pictures are public domain, I took them so I do what I want with them.

PS5: This is my personal perspective and are my views and may not represent the views of my employers, that’s why I’m using my personal blog to post it.

On media literacies and democracy

Today I woke up quite early, which is not indeed very common of me, and through my screen I noticed, again, in despair, that the humanity had screwed up. Coincidentally, I’m lecturing on data journalism and open data today, with the aim of start developing critical thinking and media literacies in my students, therefore rushed to my laptop to re-do my lecture.

Is not just about Trump winning the presidency, and also becoming the chief commander of the armed forced of the country that has invaded more countries than any other in the last decades (they beat you Britain!) bombarding and killing thousand of civilians in the name of. It is about the social constructions and instruments that misled the people of Britain  to vote of Brexit, that allowed Rajoy winning in Spain (again, really!) and made Colombia to vote against peace (yeah!).

We know that media plays a key role in framing political views, perceptions and opinions, but there is media and media (the good, the bad and the ugly), and in some, we need to observe the the amount of hate they can promote – not just via printed – online newspapers but also, across social media, the TV, and any other mean of mass communication – spreading fear and rage, sowing panic, misleading the poor and illiterate into believing that the cause of their poverty is not the bad distribution of wealth, or the corruption in their countries, or the excessive expenses of their armies, or the lack to decent housing because some rich kids keep gambling with the prices of the land, or the lack of access to health because your government basically does not give a shit about you, no, people is told that because of immigration they are denied basic access to human rights, to decent work, to fair salaries… while the rich and the corrupt keep in and get to power poisoning them thanks to right hand of the evil… the right-wing-press.

Now long ago, while preparing my course materials I found this paper Digital Media Literacy Education and Online Civic and Political Participation, and with this other one Critical Media Literacy, Democracy, and the Reconstruction of Education, and they made me reflect, because we are in a time in which we have plenty of access to data, but it is to me quite clear now that people cannot relate to it, cannot understand it, and that is core to use open data to develop citizenship skills, but this will not work if there are not any visible efforts to develop critical media literacies, which can be understood as a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy (MediaLit).  Without this literacies, data and media, people will remain ignorant of the bias and misinformation portrayed on the media, because they cannot relate with the numbers and cannot verify the information presented as facts in the information, leading towards voting for the extreme right, for the  ones that have indeed damaged the society, which is preposterous in a digitally – capable – savvy – well equipped society.

As scholars we are taught to assess information critically, to verify claims, to fact-check, to review our sources and validate the validity of the source, and I think that in these dark political times, these are the best skill we can transfer to our students, we need to think of them as future citizens, local and global, that need to support the development of democratic, tolerant and respectful societies, therefore, we need to equip them with skills for democracy and with transversal skills, that according with UNESCO include  tolerance, openness, respect for diversity and intercultural understanding, therefore we need to start thinking that Open Education may not just relate with open content, open access or open data, but with the transformative power that openness as philosophy has, because by being able to freely access resources, we can help to promote peace and democracy.

 

Disclaimer: All the images were taken from Google without even looking at the licenses, I’m bloody angry today and I needed to showcase how right wing media has led, in less than a year to basically destroy democracy and democratic participation as we knew it…..

 

Putting research into practice: Training academics to use Open Data as OER: An experience from Uruguay

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View from the lecture theatre after the storm (by me under CC_BY_NC)

Post written by Javiera Atenas  (@jatenas)

Last week Chiara CiociolaManuel Podetti  and myself – with the help from OD4D and ILDA that  supported us on developing this project- ran a three-day workshop in Montevideo, in which we trained a group of academics, secondary school teachers, librarians, public sector professionals and postgraduate students in using Open Data as Open Educational Resources, and by working in groups they projected a research, explored the data and communicated the results using data journalism techniques.

40 (amazingly motivated) people attended the course during the 3 days despite the weather (torrential rains I brought all the way down from London). With the academic support and expertise of Manuel Podetti and Virginia Rodés from Núcleo REA (Universidad de la República) and with the invluable collaboration of Carolina Veiga and Daniel Carranza from Data Uruguay,  the participants achieved so much, leaving us amazed by setting up the bar so high.

The course design was a team effort, I had my very own ideas, taken mostly from the research Leo Havemann and I have done on Open Data as Open Educational Resources (book + paper), but it was inspired by the methodology developed by A Scuola di Open Coesione, and in the work Chiara Ciociola and Luigi Reggi  do on Open Data for civic engagement. Also, we had lots of support from Silvia Sanjuan to develop the materials in Spanish and got lots of ideas for this course from Nelson Piedra, Annalisa Manca, Francesca de Chiara, Mor Rubistein, Carla Bonina, Tim Coughlan and Fabrizio Scrollini.

To develop the course content, I looked into best practices on Open Data related literacies, and got some great content from Escuela de Datos and Open Knowledge International to introduce the participants to Open Data. But also, got help gathering resources, tutorials, ideas and good examples from Mariel García, Camila Salazar, Hassell Fallas, Juan Manuel Casanueva, Silvana Fumega and many other friends from Abrelatam, to all of whom I’m really thankful.

The course was outlined in three stages [project, explore and narrate] using a critical pedagogy approach to develop – in a short period of time – the skills needed to use open data as teaching and learning resources in formal and informal learning environments, working in multidisciplinary contexts and involving the civil society in the projects, to work with students into solving real life problems towards developing critical thinking and citizenship skills.

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Image by Manuel Podetti

On the first day [project], during the morning, the participants were introduced to the world of Openness (Open Licenses, Open Data and Open Educational Resources) and its basic tools. The afternoon started with the group work, setting up the first challenge: To work in groups and find a real life problem and to project a research question out of it which could be answered by using open data as core research element. So the participants gather up in multidisciplinary teams in which each participant had a specific role (project manager, designer, principal researcher, journalist or analyst) and by the end of the day, they all had a research problem, a research method and potential open data portals and documentation to gather information.

On the second day [explore], during the morning we reviewed tools to create datasets and to visualise data. During the afternoon, the participants started to report into the research problems and – with the help of lots of Mate to keep us warm and awake – presented the initial results of their research. Also, we had an interesting discussion about their views and perceptions on the pedagogical value of their projects, with a focus on the challenges they have faced and what they have achieved so far, looking into ways to embed these new data-led practices for teaching students or for training communities.

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Image by Chiara Ciociola

On the third day [narrate] on the morning session, we looked into Data Journalism techniques and examples, we reviewed the news from traditional newspapers and compared them with news from Data Journalism portals, and discussed ways to embed data journalism techniques into teaching and learning to improve students’ communication skills and numeracies. During the afternoon, the groups worked into reporting the outcomes of their research in the READA-UdelaR Blog and finally presented the results of their projects.

As can be seen in the READA blog , the groups chose a diverse range of themes and topics, and also, chose different approaches and methods to analyse the data and to present the outcomes. One of the things that most surprised us, it was the speed in which they became empowered and started trying to access to public data that was not yet open, dealing with FOI requests and contacting the organisations that must have provided with the data.

Every group dealt with a different issue, from access to food to road accidents, they all used different research methodologies and reported and various and diverse ways. All their projects targeted real life problems, and in three days, every group was able to came with a research outcome and proposed solutions, they all presented nice and insightful infographics and participated in a panel where they discussed with the rest of the course the lessons learned, the challenges faced and sought for ideas to embed this practice into the classroom.

Also, it was interesting to see the landscape of opportunities they described as potential pedagogical uses of open data in formal and informal education, such as “provide the students with a different perspective to access information widening their panoramas“; “to empower students as citizens by giving them innovative tools to collect information and data“; “to explain the students the laws that allow them to get the data they need and to use it as an act of civic responsibility” and also, “to work with my colleagues to help students to work in multidisciplinary projects“.

From my side, I did learn a lot, both as a researcher and as a trainer, I loved the experience, the group of collaborators and participants was amazing, we were happily exhausted by the end of it, the motivation was contagious. I know there are some bits to improve in the course, but for being the first experience of this kind, I could not ask for more, I am really grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to run this workshop again, as it was an incredible experience.

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Organisations that supported and or sponsored this project

 

Why Open Data is key to teach democracy and citizenship

It has been taking me few days to put into words  what has happened in the country I called home for the last few years, it has been sad, confusing and overwhelming.

Not long ago, with my colleague Leo Havemann (@leohavemann) started doing some research about the value of Open Data as Open Educational Resources, and with a little help from our friends, we published a book and a paper, but until this point this was just an idea in our heads, Open Data is key to teach citizenship skills and to understand democracy, and we did lots of research about it, and we still do (with Chiara Ciociola, Fabrizio ScrolliniTim Coughlan, Francesca de Chiara and Annalisa Manca et al.) and we saw its value at theoretical level, but when I woke up on Friday, in despair, I noticed that as Open Data and Open Education community we haven’t done enough to educate others, because the voters in the UK have been misleading with false claims and manipulated by the right to believe that the root of evil were the migrants (EU, non EU & Refugees) and the axis of evil was European Union.

How could this happen? well, there are certain indicators that can explain this, those who voted for Brexit were mostly over 40 years old, and, Brexiters grew accordingly with age, the eldest were more prone to vote for leave, but, within this group, only 34.8% of the population completed tertiary education (Source: OECD Data), which means (for me) that the most vulnerable and illiterate group of the population were maliciously (mis)led to vote against the migrants and the EU, and were used as an instrument to promote a rather xenophobic agenda and to lead the country into a political and economical crisis, so the politicians can now have another scapegoat to blame, the illiterate and elderly people of Britain.

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But as they say here, we need to keep calm and carry on, however, this carry on, put us, and by us I mean people working in the fields of Openness (Education, Data, Science & Access) into promoting global citizenship, working closer with the civil society  (as the friends from Abrelatam, ILDA, Open Knowledge InternationalSchool of Data and SocialTIC are doing)to create spaces for capacity building for students, teachers and academics towards developing data literacies so people can understand numbers, graphs, statistics and can critically assess the information.

I firmly believe that Open Data is a key resource to teach critical thinking, and used as Open Educational Resources allows us to showcase phenomena and to build understanding of it by critically evaluating and assessing a problem. Since the referendum campaign started we have seen far too many graphs, but graphs are misleading, people cannot read them, and stats are manipulated by the media as big red numbers and letters and shocking images are to construct newspapers headlines, and the illiterate people are terrorised by fake facts and they cannot assess truth from lies.

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I know this is a sad time for many of us, scary for lots of us and probably uncertain for most of us, but I also see an opportunity for the Open Education community to collectively build a more democratic society because today promoting openness is key.  The more Open Access research is published the more people can read evidence-based information. If Open Data is used  in teaching and learning, students will be able to critically assess the media, to question their governments and their policies, and by embracing Open Science principles, students will be able replicate studies to critically construct their opinions.

We need to support the development of a more critical society  to prevent politicians creating a new scapegoat to manipulate the society, but mostly to make sure that the darkest hours of Europe  won’t repeat, because as Niemöller once wrote

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

 

Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Towards Transversal Skills and Global Citizenship

This year will be remembered by Leo Havemann and me as the Open Data year, because we spent it digging, exploring  and researching about how Open Data can be used as OER, because we believe that embedding Open Data in the curriculum can help students to develop numerous literacies including statistical, digital and reporting skills, but moreover, is a way to relate academic activities with the problems of the society aiming at developing active and conscious citizens.

Today we got published our latest piece of research titled   Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Towards Transversal Skills and Global Citizenship which “offers an initial exploration of ways in which the use of Open Data can be key in the development of transversal skills (including digital and data literacies, alongside skills for critical thinking, research, teamwork, and global citizenship), enhancing students’ abilities to understand and select information sources, to work with, curate, analyse and interpret data, and to conduct and evaluate research, and also presents results of an exploratory survey that can guide further research into Open Data-led learning activities aiming to support educators in empowering students to engage, critically and collaboratively, as 21st century global citizens“.

By saying it has been a year, I think is fair to rewind to where all started: a blogpost we called The 21st Century’s Raw Material: Using Open Data as Open Educational Resources  in which we described the initial and exploratory ideas to support students to think like scientists and policy makers and to acquire research skills. We initially used this post to call academics and practitioners in sharing their practices in the use of Open Data in teaching and learning .

So, after recruiting volunteers to share their good practices, we were joined by our friends to help us publishing these practices as case studies, to thanks to  Marieke GuyWilliam HammondsPaul Bacsich, Elena Stojanovska, Santiago MartínAnne-Christin Tannhäuser, Maria PerifanouChiara Ciociola, Luigi Reggi, Tim Coughlan, Juan Pablo Alperin, Katie Shamash, Alessandra Bordini, Alan Dix, Geoffrey Ellis and Virginia Power  in early November 2015 we published a book called Open Data as Open Educational Resources: Case studies of emerging practice,  the process of editing and putting this book together has been described in the previous post called Tales from the unexpected journey: Open Data as Open Educational Resources which I hope you enjoy reading.

— Nota en Castellano —

Si te interesa saber más sobre los datos abiertos en la docencia, puedes visitar la página Datos abiertos como recursos educativos abiertos (diseñada por el inigualable Gustavo Soto) o puedes darle una leída a la columna el el blog del BID:  Cómo los Datos Abiertos pueden ayudar a potenciar la Educación Universitaria en colaboración con el gran Nelson Piedra