The School of Data Journalism: Europe’s Biggest Data Journalism Event

Milena Marin - April 10, 2015 in Data Journalism

The European Journalism Centre, Open Knowledge and the International Journalism Festival are pleased to announce the 4th edition of Europe’s biggest data journalism event, the School of Data Journalism. The 2015 edition takes place in Perugia, Italy between 15 – 19 of April as part of this year’s International Journalism Festival.

An invitation for beginners and experienced data journalists

As part of the festival the School of Data is an invitation for beginners and experienced journalists to tell stories through data – a field of work growing and gaining in importance. A team of about 15 expert panelists and instructors from New York Times, Guardian, Twitter, Journalism++, Knight-Mozilla, School of Data and others will lead participants in a mix of discussions and hands-on sessions aimed to empower participants with the skills they need to produce high quality data stories. The topics will range from revenue models for data driven newsrooms to sensor data, web scraping and social media data, basic design and visualisation tips and mapping techniques for journalism.

This year’s edition will also include a data expedition – a hand on workshops where participants will have the chance to put in practice their data journalism skills and produce

Entry to the School of Data Journalism panels and workshops is free and does not require registration. Last year’s editions featured a stellar team of panelists and instructors, attracted hundreds of journalists and was fully booked within days. Previous editions saw the launch of the Data Journalism Handbook, and the Verification Handbook, go-to references for practitioners in the field.

The full programme of this year’s School of Data Journalism can be found here:

One participants from the last year edition said:

“The School of Data Journalism is an amazing event for journalists of all levels: whether you are a beginner looking to brush-up on basic skills or an experienced geek keen to deepen your knowledge of data tools, the School has something for you. I am a seasoned data journalists and I was amazed how much I learned from last year’s edition!”

Elisabetta Tola, an Italian freelance researcher and data journalist said

“I never used Excel with the idea of producing an article out of it. To go from downloading or producing an Excel table, to organising the information in a way that you can extract or produce a story – that’s one of the things I definitely got from these workshops”

Get the details:



Mirko Lorenz, Journalist and Information Architect, European Journalism Centre: Milena Marin, School of Data Programme Director, Open Knowledge Foundation,

Full scheule:


About the International Journalism Festival ( The International Journalism Festival is the largest media event in Europe. It is held every April in Perugia, Italy. The festival is free entry for all attendees for all sessions. It is an open invitation to listen to and network with the best of world journalism. The leitmotiv is one of informality and accessibility, designed to appeal to journalists, aspiring journalists and those interested in the role of the media in society. Simultaneous translation into English and Italian is provided.

About Open Knowledge ( Open Knowledge, founded in 2004, is a worldwide network of people who are passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and turn it into insight and change. Our aim is to give everyone the power to use information and insight for good. Visit to learn more about the Foundation and its major projects including and

About the European Journalism Centre ( The European Journalism Centre is an independent, international, non-profit foundation dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in journalism in particular and the media in general. Founded in 1992 in Maastricht, the Netherlands, the EJC closely follows emerging trends in journalism and watchdogs the interplay between media economy and media culture. It also hosts each year more than 1.000 journalists in seminars and briefings on European and international affairs.

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Second open data meet-up held in Skopje

dona - April 10, 2015 in Community, Data for CSOs, Events, News

School of Data – Macedonia organised the second Open Data Meet-up ever held in Skopje. The meet-up was held on 13th of March, and more than 30 open data enthusiasts met in the Cresha cafe, where they had the opportunity to discuss and share their views and experiences related to open data. The meeting lasted for more than three hours, during which wonderful ideas were shared between the participants.

Among the attendees were representatives of the British Embassy in Macedonia, as well as the director of the Metamorphosis Foundation – Bardhyl Jashari.


The event started with a brief presentation by Dona Djambaska from School of Data – Macedonia (fellow from the School of Data program of Open Knowledge Foundation). She introduced the concept of open data, inspiring stories for the use of open data, and several tools for processing (open) data.

Among the participants was Kostadin Mishev – member of the Regional Centre for Social Innovations which is part of the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering (FINKI) in Skopje, as well as part of the team on the same faculty, that works on sematic web and open data. He shared his experiences on developing many open data based mobile and web applications, as well as many tips and tricks on the process of working in the field.



Another participant who shared his great experience during the meet-up, is Gorjan Jovanovski, developer of the My Air mobile (and web) application. The app publishes data on the air quality/pollution in different cities around Macedonia, as well as offers a wonderful way of visualising the same measurements.


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Extended call for Fellowship applicants from Macedonia – apply now!

Zara Rahman - April 7, 2015 in Fellowship

NEW: we’re re-opening our call for Fellowship applicants from Macedonia, and now we’re looking for a full time Fellow. Apply now! Deadline April 12th!


Apply here

Since we closed the call for Fellowship applications, we came to realise that we, and our local partners in Macedonia, Metamorphosis, would most appreciate a slightly differently structured fellowship to the one we’re running in other parts of the world this year.

Namely: we’d love to have a full-time School of Data fellow based in Macedonia, supporting the work of both Metamorphosis, and building and strengthening the data literate community more widely. It seems unfair though to expect the people who already applied for the fellowships as a part-time position to be able to commit full-time to the position, so we’re opening up applications again for people who might be interested in a full time position.

For those who applied already, we’ll be getting in touch to see if you’re also interested in taking on the fellowship as a full time position.

Please share this call widely among fellow data nerds living in Macedonia – we’re looking especially for people with a technical profile, who are interested in using their technical skills for social good. We’ll support the fellow to share their skills with activists, civil society, and journalists, so that they can use data to do their work more effectively.

For more details on what the Fellowship will include, please see below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Apply here

What does the fellowship include?

As a School of Data fellow, you’ll be part of our 9-month programme, which includes the following activities:

  • guided and independent online and offline skillshares and trainings, aimed to develop data and leadership skills,
  • individual mentoring and coaching;
  • an appropriate stipend equivalent to a part time role;
  • Participation in the annual School of Data Summer Camp, which will take place in late May 2015 – location to be confirmed.
  • Participation in activities within a growing community of School of Data practitioners to ensure continuous exchange of resources, knowledge and best practices;
  • Training and coaching of the fellow in participatory event management, storytelling, public speaking, impact assessment etc;
  • Opportunities for paid work – often training opportunities arise in the countries where the fellows are based.
  • Potential work with one or more local civil society organisations to develop data driven campaigns and research.

What did last year’s fellows have to say?

Check out the Testimonials page to see what the 2014 Fellows said about the programme, or watch our Summer Camp video to meet some of the community.


This year’s fellowships will be supported by the Partnership for Open Development (POD) OD4D, Hivos, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Macedonia.

Got questions? See more about the Fellowship Programme here and have a looks at this Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.- or, watch the Ask Us Anything Hangouts that we held in mid-February to take your questions and chat more about the fellowship.

Not sure if you fit the profile? Have a look at our 2013 and 2014 fellows profiles.. Women and other minorities are encouraged to apply.

Convinced? Apply now to become a School of Data fellow in Macedonia. The application will be open until April 12th and the programme will start in late April 2015.

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Jamming for Data – Open Data Day in the Philippines

Happy Feraren - March 23, 2015 in Community, Data for CSOs, Data Journalism

Some people spend Saturday afternoons going out with friends and watching a movie. Some spend it going to a park or working out. Some spend it in the house doing nothing. And some, spend Saturday afternoons wrangling government related data.

It was a joy to see people find people like themselves, “Met people who understand the horrors of PDF data sets and merged cells. I’m not crazy yay!” tweeted one participant. It was an even bigger joy to see people excited over the possibilities of Open Data. Though the OGP has been around in the Philippines for 4 years, the principles and ideas behind it are still not common knowledge in civil society.


We called, they answered: From magazine feature writers, to animators, and expert programmers who do data projects for fun -the event was a good mix of diverse personalities from different sectors as well (private sector, NGOs, government).IMG_0057

In celebration of the International Open Data Day  last February 21, we at, together with our partner SEATTI, Open Knowledge Foundation, School of Data and Philippine Cyberpress conducted the very first citizen-led “Data Jam.” It was attended by people who were all interested in using their skills to find stories within a given data set and ultimately shed light on the problem of government accountability.

During the Data Jam, we opened up our organization’s primary dataset for the first time. The dataset contains findings from our citizen monitoring work on red tape in Metro Manila’s local government units. Actual survey questions and answers of on-site reports can be found in CSV format. It is the same data set used for the city scorecards published online through our website’s Red Tape Index. Users of the website can download the raw survey data of and visualize it however they want. If, for example, a citizen wants to know more about how transparent processes are in different LGU’s, they can look through  the raw dataset and find answers. Moreover, if government offices themselves want to know how they are performing given a different set of indicators, they can use the dataset to help them identify their lapses.

This is a trend we hope to start with other NGOs and CSOs. There are so many valuable datasets in the development sector and if we start opening them up, we give the general public a clearer picture of our reality. This gives us a good baseline if we want to improve and change failing systems. We cannot rely on government data alone. We’re also proud to announce that now has an added feedback feature in the website that allows citizens of Metro Manila to write a review and rate their experience in a given city hall.

The 2014-2015 data set of the Contact Center ng Bayan (the national government feedback mechanism under the Civil Service Commission) was also used in the Data Jam. Participants were able to get an idea of how responsive different government offices were to complaints and grievances, what the most common complaints were in terms of government services, and the most popular mode of feedback. Government offices like the Civil Service Commission spend a lot of time processing and releasing this kind of data. The people behind the feedback mechanism are the same people who answer the hotline, encode, analyze, and visualize the data. Moreover, government still relies on mainstream media to pick up the data findings before it reaches the general public. Through the event, participants realized that by simply opening up the data set, government can outsource the analysis and visualization part to the citizenry.

Sentiments Visualized: Mich Rama of Dakila (a local NGO) and one of the Data Jam participants, used the online tool to instantly create a word cloud and pie chart.

Sentiments Visualized: Mich Rama of Dakila (a local NGO) and one of the Data Jam participants, used the online tool to instantly create a word cloud and pie chart.1


I find that the whole event was a good way to reflect on my organization’s internal process. We all have our blind spots, and by keeping things transparent, we get people to collaborate on solutions for the common good. This Data Jam also helped me see how we can improve our organization’s data collection processes and thus has given me a better insight on how to proceed strategically. When we open up datasets, we get to increase participation and engagement. Citizens are the end users of government service, they shouldn’t be left out of the conversation. We are, after all, the biggest stakeholders of this country.

During the event, data became the common language for everyone. Opinions were formed based on hard evidence instead of emotions and political agendas. In a span of 4 hours, people of different backgrounds were able to work together and help create a culture of transparency and accountability.

IMG_0086 is a civil society organization that uses technology to mobilize citizens to demand good governance. They want to help citizens get good government service and they do this primarily through awareness campaigns and performance monitoring of the different LGUs in Metro Manila. Currently, they have covered 9 out of 17 cities but target  to finish all of them by this year.

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Fellowship programme update: applications now closed!

Zara Rahman - March 11, 2015 in Fellowship

Update, 07/04/2015: We’ve updated our schedule: we’ll be starting the fellowship a week later than planned, on April 20th – and we’ll aim to let everyone know a decision by April 13th, at the very latest. Our apologies for the delay – the great quality and quantity of applications has made choosing just 7 fellows very difficult. Thank you for your patience!

The call for 2015 Fellowships has now closed – thank you all for your applications! We have received many more applications than we had hoped for – in total, we have received 563 fellowships applications from 82 different countries. We’re humbled and grateful that you all took the time to apply, and we wish that we had more places available!

Map of Fellowship applicants

Map of where Fellowship applicants are living

We want to dedicate enough time to read through all of the great applications; because of this, we’ve decided to postpone the start of the Fellowship to give us, and our local partners, enough time to dedicate to reviewing the applications with the time and energy they deserve.

Our new proposed start date for the fellowship is April 13th, and we will let you know of our decision by April 7th. We really hope this doesn’t affect anybody’s plans negatively, or impact their availability for the fellowship – if it does, please drop us an email to info[at] and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

We will be updating the Fellowships FAQ with further information and in answer to your questions as they come in – anything else, please email us as above, and keep an eye on the FAQ page.

A huge thank you to all of our partners and the School of Data network who shared the call for Fellows very widely – we really appreciate your help on spreading the word!

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May we Fetch you Some Data Skills? Exactly, at the Open Data Day in Abuja

olubabayemi - March 8, 2015 in Events

While everyone else whines about more training time for tools to can improve their data skills at our last open data party in Abuja, we did something about it at the Open Data Day in Abuja, on Saturday, February 21, 2015: 2 hours, 10 skill shares, 10 facilitators, 72 registered participants, and view the screenshot below to read what some of our participants said at the end of the event.


Tagged a skill share day that kicked off at 11a.m. it could not have been a wrong day to chose for this event, as 30 minutes before start of event, power was interrupted, and to make it worse, some part of the facility was going through renovation, Nevertheless, it began with an insanely charming activist from Devnovate/ Social Good Nigeria, Esther Agbarakwe, handing each of the participants a list of what to expect, and how the minutes are going to roll by in a flash – 2 hours will soon be over!

Surprisingly, the participants remain excited as we chose the first five skill shares that will run for the first hour (in a world cafe system). No thanks to our facilitators, who quickly had their laptops to run for next one hour without power. The skill shares for the hour were – Data Analysis using Excel Spreadsheet, Data Coding, using Google Spreadsheet for collaboration, Facilitation Skills and Community Building Skills. “It was quite intriguing to learn some simple skills around analysis with excel, been having headache around this all this while until this 15 minutes session” said one of the participants.


While the heat of the sun started settling in, it was quite obvious that the every 15 minutes change to another skill share for the participants became an exercise that will soon be gone. A new set of skill shares were introduced after 1 hour 15 minutes. “How come we already run through an hour and 15 minutes, that was in a dash” exclaimed Oladotun Fadeyiye. New skill shares included using infographics, using twitter for good, funding mechanisms, using ArCGIS for mapping, creating great blogging website.


Yusuf Suleiman taking on ARCGIS for mapping


Two hours fifteen minutes went by, and we were impressed at some of the ingenious ways our facilitators came up with, to teach without power! Did BRCK come to the rescue? No, not yet, it was a short time, so we got all laptops fully charged, so that by the time we finished, all laptops battery would be beeping. Internet came from shared sticks, and also I saw a facilitator using practically online screen shots for demonstration, making look like he was browsing – how intelligent!

As it was a short time, participants were instructed to scribble their questions on sticky notes, to be read at plenary, after the “party’ was over. We had questions like why is it important to code data, how can a stammer facilitate, how secured is it to share files with Google Doc, Can I use the Google Drive if I do not have a Gmail account. Had suggestions like can we more time for the skill share next time – like dedicating one hour to a particular topic, thus taking us to the advanced skills.


School of Data stickers up for grabs in a Thank you format to all Participants


At the end of the event, despite the fact that I had to fix laptops battery that were running out, collect sticky notes, shared sweeties and stickers, make sure sugar and energy drinks were available, tried blowing out the heat from participants sweat, Little said I would make a great concierge. We kept our cool and bantered with participants, and have useful connections, admittedly largely at getting feed backs. When it is time for another data skill share, I will be prepared to serve. My first question is going to be whether participants miss their homes during the skill share hours ;)

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School of Data in South Africa

Jason Norwood-Young - March 5, 2015 in Fellowship


The School of Data Fellowship Programme in South Africa was a six-month programme funded by Indigo Trust, managed by Code for South Africa (Code4SA), in partnership with School of Data. The objective of the programme was to recruit two fellows in South Africa – one in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town – in order to promote data literacy in partner organisations in each city. The programme ran from July 2014 to December 2014.

“We’re definitely more aware of data in our projects, and more aware of the process. We have a clearer idea of what you want to get out of a project at the beginning, and we’re not just putting data in a spreadsheet. … Now we think about the data pipeline first — getting, cleaning and analysing the data”, Sean Russell – Ndifuna Nkwazi

Our Fellows

Hannah Williams

Hannah Williams is a Cape Town-based designer who scored well for her overall impression, and had been exposed to the School of Data training course as a participant in a course earlier in the year where she excelled in ability and enthusiasm. She proved to be a perfect choice, and as a designer, she brought a much-needed skill to the global School of Data fellowship.

Siyabonga Africa

Siyabonga Africa has a great enthusiasm for data journalism, and has long been the Hacks/Hackers organiser in Johannesburg. His career has its roots in public administration and journalism from the University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch University respectively. He completed his masters in new media design at Indiana University before returning to South Africa in 2012.

Highlights of their work

Our fellows were committed to work directly with partner organisations and help them achieve concrete outputs. The selection of partner organisations was based on their work and their interest or capacity to commit to a two-day workshop and six-month programme. The organistions we worked with were: The ConMedia Monitoring Africa (MMA), Ndifuna Nkwazi, International Budget Partnership and the Social Justice Coalition who teamed up to work on a project on the City of Cape Town’s budget and Black Sash.


Initially we held two workshops in Johannesburg and Cape Town to get our partner organisations the basics they need to produce great data stories. Our fellows led the workshops with the support of Michael from School of Data and Jason from Code for South Africa. They guided the participants through a series of exercises that helped them define their product, their audience, and their implementation plans. They also ran hands-on, practical sessions on data cleaning, teaching the ever useful Open Refine, data analysis with an emphasis on spreadsheets, and specialised tools like budget tools and Wazimap.


Cape Town Budget, Ndifuna Nkwazi, International Budget Partnership and the Social Justice Coalition

As part of their Imali iYethu campaign NU are working on making The City of Cape Town’s budget more accessible to promote public participation (currently very low) and a more equitable budget. Currently the City of Cape Town releases its budget as a series of lengthy PDF documents so it’s practically impossible to get a clear overview of how the budget is being spent. We worked with Ndifuna Ukwazi to firstly extract the budget data from these PDFs, clean and analyse the budget data (geographically as well as according to specific local government service sectors and possibly according to other factors as they become apparent) and then present this data in a clear and understandable manner so that the public can know how their tax money is being spent in their local area and it can be determined whether the current budget allocation is equitable, and if not, how it could be improved.

Cape Town Budget

We hope that this project will encourage the City to reconsider how it releases its budget and encourage more active citizenship and engagement on all sides for future budgeting processes.

Hannah has created a map of the City’s budget, which will form an integral part of the campaign.

Social Audit Posters – Black Sash

Making All Voices Count (MAVC), managed by Hivos, is part of a global initiative which aims to empower Community Based Organisations (CBOs) to take ownership of and participate actively in citizen-based monitoring of three government services (Health, SASSA and Local Government) in 20 service sites across South Africa. A working relationship with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation is in place to pilot the integration and institutionalisation of citizen feedback into government’s performance monitoring and evaluation system. Black Sash conducted surveys with communities around these 20 pilot sites. Their challenge was how to effectively analyse and present this data in a manner that promotes dialogue between communities and service centres so that poor areas of service can be improved and good service acknowledged. As these communities have a low level of internet and technology penetration we decided to use low-tech methods of communicating the monitoring data to them.

Hannah turned that data into posters, using a simple design language, so that the data can be used to promote dialogue between the stakeholders at the monitored stations.



The result of the data analysis will feed into Black Sash’s Hands Off Our Grants project, which protects the poorest of the poor from having their grant payments illegally garnished.

The Black Sash project was the most successful of the projects, resulting in multiple concrete outputs, and a very happy partner who uses the project and the School of Data programme as an example of data-driven advocacy when speaking to other civic society organisations.

AgendaSetter – Media Monitoring Africa

Agenda Setter is another project from MMA that uses Dexter as a data source. MAgenda SetterMA aims to match the newsmakers with publishers to see who has the most influence in the news of the day. Using Dexter, MMA plans on mining news that is published to extract the sources who are the most prevalent to see if they match up with the top Twitter profiles in the fields of business, politics and news. They also plan on using this platform to analyze the content to find which stories get mainstream attention and from which sources.


Some of the parts of the AgendaSetter application have been completed, including a visualisation of the top newsmakers in the country using Dexter data (, as well as monitoring Twitter for the top South African journalists’ tweets (

Lessons learned

Proximity matters

Managing a project and a fellow remotely is very difficult. Siyabonga didn’t always let us know when he was struggling, and with what, and tried to make everything seem rosy when we he needed help. If he was closer, and we saw him physically more often, I think it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. Even though we didn’t see Hannah every day or even every week, the occasional sit-down was much more valuable than our regular Skype stand-ups. We also regularly had our Cape Town partners at our offices, often for the entire day. As a result, I feel that the Cape Town projects benefited from the entire Code4SA team, and from extra hands-on attention.

Technical solutions aren’t always the right solutions

The outcome I’m most proud of isn’t a website – it’s a poster. For the audience, it is clearly the right medium, and communicates in a way that a website cannot.

Making the most of a short amount of time

Hannah suggested in her report that we could have selected the partners before the programme started, which would have let us organise the workshop much earlier. It took us until September to get through the selection phases, and by then we had very little time to produce outputs.

You’ve got to get stuff out the door

Siyabonga quotes the following from Twitter in his report: “#ThingsToLiveBy: You are judged by the work you complete, not how much work you take on”

We encouraged our participants to come up with one grand project, which was often extremely ambitious. Rather, working with data every day and using the tools every day (such as NU is now doing) creates a much greater organisation change that will have long-term benefits. NU now reports that they use Open Refine extensively, and that it has saved them weeks of work.

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Learn data visualization and data-driven journalism in a real “Data Jam”

Happy Feraren - February 17, 2015 in Events

[Cross posted from GMA News Online; Press release by]

On February 21 (International Open Data Day),, a platform that uses technology in mobilizing citizens to demand good governance, will host the very first citizen-initiated “Data Jam.”

Done in partnership with the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI), the Data Jam aims to get citizens to participate in governance via data analysis and visualization.
The event also aims to teach the general public and journalists alike the fundamentals of data visualization and data-driven journalism through a real hands-on experience.
“Data Journalism in the Philippines is still a wide-open field,” notes TJ Dimacali, Philippine Cyberpress president. “It’s an exciting frontier, especially for tech-savvy journalists. But it’s also something anyone can do, given the right tools.” co-founder and 2014 School of Data Fellow Happy Feraren explains: “The information that we hope to mine from the activity can give us an insight on how and where exactly our systems of governance are failing. It can help us identify what exactly is going wrong and instead of pointing fingers,  we can use this information to improve the lapses of the bureaucracy.”
The Data Jam hopes to introduce the frontier of using data to raise awareness and give feedback to government. Feraren adds, “We will group writers, graphic designers, and data analysts together to come up with questions and find the answers together.”
The program and activity flow will be based on the international School of Data toolkit. Using the open datasets of and the Civil Service Commission, the event wants to get people with the right skillsets to work together and discover new stories from the raw datasets provided. Overall, it’s a new way to shed light on national issues and is a slicker and more efficient way to give feedback to government.
The Philippines has been a signatory of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) since 2011, which essentially encourages participatory governance and openness in the bureaucracy. One way that the OGP suggests is the use and application of open data provisions. Given the amount of public data, there should be a conscious effort to make these datasets available and easily accessible. And at the same time, citizens should make use of these datasets to ensure transparency is met.
“We want to promote that kind of culture where we make data-driven decisions, especially when it comes to matters of governance. There is so much we can do to track what government is doing and how they are performing. It’s one concrete way to tell them, as citizens, that ‘we are watching you,’ ” says Feraren. “It’s one way we can promote a culture of active citizenship – where we don’t just rely on mainstream media to know what’s really happening. There’s a whole lot of data out there that we don’t look at and given the right training and awareness, citizens CAN mine their own insights out of publicly available data.”
The Data Jam is organized by and SEATTI, co-sponsored by the Open Knowledge Foundation, The School of Data – Philippines, and the Philippine Cyberpress.
Interested data analysts, storytellers, and graphic designers can RSVP via – LIMITED SLOTS ONLY and RSVP is a must. It will be held in on February 21, 1-5pm at the AIM Conference Center. Full details will be sent to confirmed participants.

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Highlights from the Ask Us Anything hangouts (part I)

Zara Rahman - February 17, 2015 in Fellowship

We carried out a couple of video hangouts with 2014 fellows to talk more about last year’s fellowship programme, and about the upcoming programme which has an open Call for Applications, closing on March 10th. For those who prefer reading to watching, here are some highlights and questions that came up during the video hangouts!

Question: What is the typical day of a School of Data fellow?

Happy: As a fellow, I spent a lot of time learning! The Fellowship really helped me to be brave and dive into the data… other than the events you have to do, a lot of it is a learning experience. It really never stops!

Yuandra: Usually, I meet with a lot of people – working with data is very new in my country, Indonesia, so there was lots of interest. I spent lots of time going from organisation to organisation, raising awareness of what they can do with data. Then, planning training – the materials, preparing them, thinking about how to package the materials in a way that people will understand.

Question: What skills are needed to be a School of Data fellow?

Milena: We’re looking for a diversity of skills among the fellows, we’re hoping each fellow will have a strong skill that they’ll be able to teach others, as well as be able to identify gaps in their own knowledge. We only have 7 spaces this year, which is fewer than last year, so it will (hopefully!) be a competitive process.

Codrina: It’s important to have some connections in your region, because the Fellowship (and School of Data) is not just about learning things for yourself, but then to take what you have learned and what you know, and spread it in your own geographical context. Or if you don’t already – be prepared to go around and meet lots of new organisations and build the community around you!

Yuandra: Community building is really important, you’ll be working with other organisations around you who definitely have the need for data. So is communication: my background is very technical, but this Fellowship taught me how to put my technical jargon aside, and explain issues in a simple way for newcomers to the topic.

Question: What kinds of projects did Fellows carry out?

Yuandra: I worked with Publish What You Pay (who work on extractive industries transparency), who previously only used data in Excel, and for reports. When I went there, one of my main points was to show them how they can use data in other ways, for example in visualisations and infographics. They’re still in an early stage of working with data, but they’ve come a long way!

Codrina: I’m a mapping person, so much of the work I did involved either building maps or teaching people how to use them, and how to stay away from usual map problems. I went to Bosnia & Herzegovina, and worked on election maps. If you’re ever curious about the most horrible election system in the world – take a look! We spent a week trying to work out how it works, we ended up asking people to explain the system in a 3 minute video, which worked really well.

Happy: I found that it’s hard to ‘sell’ open data to different CSOs just by explaining – so, I wanted to use my own organisation as a model, to demonstrate what exactly people can do with open data. It was a really good way actually for us to engage with government – you build trust, and partnerships with them, by teaching them what they can do with data. Now, the government are opening up datasets that they’ve never opened before – so this is really exciting for me.

Nisha: We did a data journalism workshop for people who are really not very technologically savvy – it was really rewarding because after a while of working with people who want to know more advanced stuff, you can forget there’s lots of people who still want to know the basics, so you get to open this whole new world to them. We also did a data expedition with an organisation that’s working in the urban space in Hyderabad, with data that they’d collected.

If you like the sound of what last year’s fellows got up to – why not apply yourself and join us as one of the 2015 Fellows? More details are available here, and if you have any further questions please drop us a line on info[at] or on @SchoolofData. Applications close on March 10th, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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Ask Us Anything – watch it online now

Zara Rahman - February 16, 2015 in Fellowship

To talk through the fellowship programme and hear from last year’s fellows, we held a couple of online hangouts: you can watch them here, and if you have any further questions, feel free to drop us a line on, or tweet us @SchoolOfData

On Monday 16th February, our 2014 Fellows Codrina, Happy and Yuandra, from Romania, the Philippines, and Indonesia respectively, joined myself and Milena to talk through their experiences in last year’s fellowship.

Here’s the video online (just under an hour long):

And on Tuesday 17th February, Olu and Nisha, from Nigeria and India respectively, joined us to discuss their fellowship. Here’s their video, which is just over 30 minutes long:

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