By: Gillian Whitworth and Emily Petterson, Open Data Institute
Data literacy has a vital role to play in providing social and economic benefit and developing services to citizens. Building the skills of the wider population, particularly in children and young adults, is essential to creating a population that understands, and can innovate with, data that is released by government. Acquiring data literacy in schools is the first step in building a foundation of a data literate society, especially as an increasing number of roles require knowledge about computers and data systems.
In 2016 , the Open Data and Innovation team in the Argentine Ministry of Modernisation launched the Bring Open Data to your School project in Buenos Aires with support from the Open Data Institute mini-grant programme. The project aims to improve data literacy and knowledge about open data amongst adolescents through the creation of a mobile application to be used in a classroom setting alongside teaching. Early testing of this app has proved successful in encouraging interest in open data amongst teenagers, with plans to scale the project in the coming year across Argentina.
The Ministry of Modernisation (Government of Argentina) partnered with digital agency Aerolab and the educational NGO Eidos to create an interactive mobile application for 12-18 year olds. This straightforward app introduces data-related concepts such as analysis and portals to encourage young people to produce and use data about themselves and their communities. The app also presents the opportunity to compare data that they have generated themselves with available open data sources.
The app was specifically designed for use in the classroom to provide an interactive and intuitive way of engaging young people on the uses of open data. The app poses questions regarding the adolescent’s neighborhood, which the student answers with a percentage or number. This may include the average number of children that attend school, or the average number of rooms in a house. The app then compares the adolescent’s response with real open data information and presents these to the student in a visualisation.
Bring Open Data to Your School has been supported by the Open Data for Development (OD4D) and the ODI’s mini-grant programme, which included remote mentoring and a grant of £6,500 to support the development and implementation of the project.
The Bring Open Data to your School project was successful as a result of collaboration with partners in the private sector and civil society, Aerolab and Eidos. Through utilising the expertise of these partners, the project ensured the app was designed and presented to the target audience (adolescents) in a way that will further encourage them to engage with open data. The project team also collected feedback from a testing session with students in December that will help adapt the service to fit user needs. The project successfully targeted and engaged a key demographic that will enable the open data initiative to become more sustainable in the long-term.
By encouraging students to use their own data, the app has empowered these adolescents to be more involved in the decision-making of their own community. Not only does this increase data literacy skills, but it also encourages students to hold their schools and communities to account regarding economic and social inequalities. In this case, open data has helped provide increased transparency for the citizens of Argentina.
Learn more about this project with its co-supporter: the Open Data Institute