A guest post from Madeleine McGreevy about the Data + Education panel.
A panel held recently at the 2015 International Open Data Conference in Ottawa examined how open data is being used in Colombia, the United States, Nigeria and Kenya to build better education systems. Open data on education can encompass information relating to students (such as grades), courses, institutions, policy or government. Datasets on education can help students, educational institutions and governments to make more informed decisions. However, open data also carries with it a set of privacy concerns and risks.
The United States: Open Syllabus Project the first online database of university course syllabi
The United States-based Open Syllabus Project is an effort to create the first large-scale online database of university course syllabi as a platform for the development of new research, teaching and administrative tools. Over one million syllabi collected by the project so far allows for comparisons of curriculum across universities and for the examination of content and evolution of fields. Data collected can reveal information such as the differences between American and British Cultural Anthropology, for example, or what publications are taught most frequently in each state.
Nigeria: CrowdWatch monitors funding allocations to schools
Discrepancy between what is budgeted and what is actually spent on education and inadequate monitoring of service delivery and outcomes lie at the heart of an education crisis in Nigeria. Data management is a tool that can be used to measure actual funding implementation and its impact. CrowdWatch, born out of the Open Development Initiative, is a public platform for crowdsourced monitoring and project mapping of allocations to Nigerian schools. Major features include a data bank, a stakeholder collaboration workbench, social media and a participation platform.
Kenya: Open Schools Kenya maps location of slum schools
Many schools in Kibera, a slum region outside of Nairobi, Kenya have never been mapped and are subsequently completely unknown to residents. Open Schools Kenya has made information on informal, private and government schools open and accessible, using OpenStreetMap. The project has located 339 schools in the area, with 2183 teachers and 54,488 students. The map has been made available offline and can be used to help allocate resources, build schools and improve the quality of education. In recent meetings held on the construction of a railroad through Kibera, the map was used to help demonstrate issues relating to the location of the railroad tracks.
Colombia: Analítica Académica helps universities use government data effectively
In Colombia, it can take up to six months to clean, structure and analyze government data on higher education needed for the accreditation process. Analítica Académica is a private company that facilitates the selection and procurement of raw data and the development and use of apps to provide universities with information needed to improve their management, building a better education system in Colombia.