What real-world problems are there related to education in the developing world that could potentially be solved by open data and technology solutions?
How about: Insufficiently trained teachers, badly informed decision makers, lack of key data sets, the inferior quality of teaching resources and their poor discoverability, inadequate infrastructure meaning that education can rarely be carried out solely online…?
Last week’s Making it Matter workshop brought together software developers, educators and individuals from the development community to see how they can work together by using open and linked data. To set the scene there were overview presentations on the links between education technology, learning and development politics from Balaji Venkataraman, Director, Technology & Knowledge Management, Commonwealth of Learning; Tom Salmon, Teacher and open development researcher and Stephen Haggard, Consultant in Educational Technology. There were also a series of case study presentations on projects including WorldWide Semantic Web, One Laptop per Child and the Partnership for Open Data. In the afternoon there were demos of some of the tools that have been developed as part of the LinkedUp Challenge: three consecutive competitions looking for interesting and innovative tools and applications that analyse and/or integrate open web data for educational purposes.
During the day participants took part in three breakout sessions looking at the problems education in the developing world is facing, the datasets that are currently available (or could be created and made available) and the next steps for the community. Some of the key outcomes were framed around learning from others (recognition that we in the developed world have much to learn), teaching others (ensuring those in the developing world have the skills to create their own tools and datasets), finding solutions to the aforementioned problems and showing impact.
The workshop, co-hosted by the LinkedUp Project and the Commonwealth of Learning took place in London on 16th May however it hopes to have a much broader reach than those physically in the room. The event was live streamed and all slides and videos of talks are now available online. The breakout groups were also videoed and recorded in an etherpad, the main results have been sumarised. You can also see Tweets and photos from the day.
Attendees of the workshop are keen to take what they have learned forward and start working on new initiatives. It’s possible we could even be looking at an Open Data Index in the area of education. If you would like to participate in further discussions then join the Open Education Working Group.