Using Open Data in Schools

September 15, 2014 in featured, guestpost

marco-150x150Marco Fioretti is a freelance writer, popularizer, activist and teacher. His field is open digital standards, Free Software, digital technologies and the impacts of all these things on education, ethics, civil rights, environmental issues and, in general, everyday life. Marco has been interested in the intercept between open education and open data for sometime. He wrote a proposal for a workshop on this area back in 2013 entitled Open Data in and from Schools: When Open Data meets Show and Tell.

Marco has a specific focus in mind. His area of interest is not about creating and using open data ABOUT schools, in order to run them better, monitor their “performances” or anything like that. His workshops are about things that children can do in class or as homework, with very very basic computer skills, even when there is only computer per school with only very slow/intermittent connectivity. Below is a reposting of a recent blog post explaining Marco’s vision.

We hope to have Marco talk more about his ideas at the next Open Education Working Group Call likely to be held later this month, more details to follow.

You can contact Marco by emailing him at or follow him on Twitter.

[This is a proposal for a talk and related workshop that I submitted for a conference that took place in autumn 2013. The proposal was accepted but eventually didn’t happen due to lack of funding for travel expenses. Since the idea is not tied to that specific event in any way, here it is.]

Young people have always been critical of politics and public institutions in general. This, of course, is absolutely natural and even necessary, to a degree.

Today, however, more and more young people see politics and public administrations simply as awkwards dinosaurs, made excessively complex just for complexity’s sake. These (lost) citizens seem to have already concluded that no form of change, participation or dialogue with “institutions” could ever be remotely interesting or relevant for their lives and future, even if it were just to find a job. This is a terrible waste of energies for society.

Photo by Brad Flickinger on Flikr, CC-BY

Photo by Brad Flickinger on Flikr, CC-BY

The talk suggests one part of the solution to this problem: promote the systematic use and production of Open Data in High Schools.

The talk, which is an updated, more detailed version of a proposal first launched in 2011 and also tested at the 2013 Open Data Week, explains with practical, real world examples:

  • how using and producing Open Data in class may help to mitigate anti-government sentiment and image among young people, showing them that government can’t really be as simple as they sometime imagine
  • how to make students understand (and, when possible, take part into) policy development, through social media and other channels
  • how all this is possible in traditional school activities, that is without turning existing curricula and teaching practices upside down
  • how to involve teachers very gradually, on a voluntary basis, without relying on large scale, expensive programs


Marco hopes to expand on these ideas in the future and would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

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