We have organized three spreadsheet workshops in Budapest in the course of September and December 2014 as part of the Be Smart with Data project (site in Hungarian). The initiative aims at promoting the use of open data and building data skills among NGOs and journalists in Hungary to make them more effective in their advocacy work, as well as in assessing their impact and communicating their results. The participating organizations work in a variety of fields from international development through media monitoring and human rights to lobbying for transparency of local governments, and the project has an added focus on monitoring public spending in these fields.
The first trainings took place on September 9 and 11. Before the events, we sent out a questionnaire to get an idea of what skills participants already have and what they are interested in learning. It turned out from the responses that tools for data analysis and visualization would be the most useful for their daily work, so we decided to cover formatting tricks, functions, pivot tables and visualization with charts. To make the work more effective, we separated a beginner and an advanced group, and customized the material to the different skill levels, covering basic formatting and functions in the former and advanced formatting, pivot tables and charts in the latter group. We have worked with real world data on school performance and on migration, published by the Office of Education and the Hungarian Central Statistics Office.
A slight piquancy is added to the events by the fact that we were holding the workshops during the hours when the Hungarian police saw fit to raid the offices of NGOs distributing Norway Grants.