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10 years of School of Data

- February 8, 2022 in Announcement, Update

10 years ago exactly, the School of Data project was announced on the Open Knowledge blog by our founder, Rufus Pollock. Over the last decade, the School of Data team and network facilitated trainings for over 6,000 individuals around the world, designed innovative training resources and methodologies and influences several dozens of organisations around the world which are now using our open resources; and we aren’t done yet!

At the time of its launch, School of Data was inspired by the model of the Peer to Peer University (P2PU; specifically the School of Webcraft, a defunct partnership between P2PU and Mozilla), but with a focus on more curated content. The project was also rooted in the Open Educational Resource movement, to which OKF contributed through its Open Education Working Group.  School of Data was a product of its time: 12 days after our announcement Udacity started offering online courses and was followed three months later by edX. As the New York Times said at the time, it was “The Year of the MOOC”.

But the project – sustained in its early years thanks to funding from Shuttleworth, Open Society Foundation and Hewlett- quickly pivoted: it became clear that for an NGO aiming to promote open knowledge across the world, publishing learning modules and tutorials online was not enough. The people who needed data skills the most were often the ones least likely to come to our website and learn by themselves; we needed to go to them.

So we got to work. Starting with conferences, such as Mozfest, our team travelled around the world to teach data to journalists and civic actors. At the same time, we developed and tested the methodology and learning resources, which would become a backbone of our work: the data pipeline methodology, the data expedition format and our online learning modules. We produced several pieces of research to better understand the field of data literacy. We partnered with NGOs from other countries who shared our vision, such as SocialTIC in Mexico and Code4SA (now OpenUp). We kicked off a Fellowship programme which ran for 6 years and worked with a variety of organisations such as Hivos, NRGI, Internews, Transparency International, IREX, Publish What You Pay, IDRC, the World Bank or Code for Africa.

All this work contributed to the growth of, and was made possible by our single most important asset: the School of Data network.

map of the School of Data network

The global School of Data network is visible on the map, with former Fellows as triangles, partner organisations as circles and coordination team members (current and former) as stars

Made of former Fellows and partner organisations sharing our vision and methodologies, the School of Data network was a necessary step to address one of the biggest challenges that we had identified: the lack of mentors with the data literacy skills needed to implement our vision on the field, around the world. Today the network allows the School of Data to deliver trainings in fifteen languages across the world, ensuring that our trainings are inclusive and culturally relevant.

What’s next

Those who follow the project know that the School of Data has been quiet in the past few years. Although the work never stopped, we are very much aware that our public activity fell short of the expectations that our friends and partners had come to expect from us. But this anniversary comes at a perfect time: under the leadership of our new CEO, Renata Ávila, OKF will once again invest in reimagining and launching an updated School of Data, combining knowledge, technical tools and critical thinking about the present and future of technology. With this renewed focus, we will be able to support our network better, continue innovating with better training and learning resources, and, more importantly, speed up our work toward achieving our vision: a world where everyone, from civil society organisations, to journalists and citizens,  are empowered with the skills they need to use data effectively, transforming into knowledge, leading to change.

If you want to work with us on what’s coming next, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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Our Data Literacy Research Findings

- January 8, 2016 in Impact, Update


In 2015 School of Data started its first research project to understand data literacy efforts around the world. In the lead up to the publication of the final report, we’re publishing a series of blog posts to share our findings. The goal is to provide them in an accessible format, benefitting both data literacy practitioners and a wider network of peers. Hopefully, this examination of techniques and methodologies currently employed by actors within and outside the network can provide with a pool of knowledge to be used in building and developing data literacy efforts.

For this research project we aimed to examine the effectiveness of current data literacy efforts, particularly in relation to social change work. This research is specifically aimed to empower the School of Data Steering Committee to take strategic decisions about the programme going forward and along with the School of Data network members, build on the successes to date.  We specifically looked to answer the question: What are the recurring topics when speaking about data literacy in social change/justice work?

We have conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with data literacy practitioners, and desk research to collect data and literature on data literacy. This has been analysed with the goal of improving data literacy practice in the short term, informing efforts to provide data literacy in the long run.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing our findings here under the following topics:

  1. Defining Data Literacy – January 8th
  2. Data Literacy Methodologies – January 14th
  3. Measuring the Impact of Data Literacy Efforts – January 21st
  4. Which Business Models for Data Literacy Efforts? – January 28th
  5. Improving Data Literacy Efforts – February 4th
  6. List of resources we used during our research – February 11th


Mariel Garcia provided research assistance and Dirk Slater from FabRiders provided research advisory. Guidance for their work was provided by Marco Pires, School of Data Coordinator; Milena Marin, former School of Data Coordinator and Katelyn Rogers, Project Manager at Open Knowledge International.

We are especially thankful to the following people who advised us during this process:

  • Javiera Atenas (Management Science and Innovation Department, University College London, United Kingdom),
  • Becky Faith (Department of Computing and Communications, Open University, United Kingdom),
  • Rahul Bhargava (Center for Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States),
  • Silvana Fumega (University of Tasmania, Australia)
  • Fabrizio Scrollini (Iniciativa Latinoamericana por los Datos Abiertos, Uruguay).

The following people were gracious enough to provide us with insightful interviews that helped us develop our research:

  • Allen Gunn, Aspiration;
  • Ariel Merpert, Chequeado;
  • Emma Prest, Data Kind UK;
  • Eva Constantaras, Internews;
  • Fabio Campos, Oi Futuro;
  • Gabriela Rodriguez;
  • Jason Norwood-Young, Raymond Joseph and Jennifer Walker, Code for South Africa;
  • Juan Manuel Casanueva, SocialTIC;
  • Maya Ganesh, Tactical Technology Committee;
  • Natalia Mazotte, School of Data Brazil;
  • Nisha Thompson, Data Meet;
  • Rahul Bhargava, Data Therapy;
  • Rebecca Kahn, P2P University;
  • Ye Sheng, IREX;
  • Zara Rahman, the engine room.

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Contribute to our data literacy research!

- September 10, 2015 in Update

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The Future of School of Data

- June 15, 2015 in Community, Update

School of Data World

The School of Data World: Local School of Data, Other organisations implementing School of Data activities and fellows!

Over the last few years, School of Data has seen impressive development and growth, going from a simple idea to an internationally recognised data literacy programme which has trained thousands of people, worked with dozens of CSOs and has multiple regional instances.

School of Data was conceived in early 2012 by Open Knowledge in collaboration with Philip Schmidt of P2PU and the project was officially launched to the public in January 2013.

Since then, it has grown to be an amazing network of data literacy practitioners, both organizations and individuals, implementing training and other data literacy activities in their country or region. Our local implementing partners are Social TICCfAfrica, Metamorphosis, and several Open Knowledge chapters including Spain, Brazil, France, Greece and more. In addition, we have worked in many countries thorough our dedicated fellows.

The Growth of School of Data

We have also worked with multiple funding partners including the Shuttleworth Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Hewlett Foundation, Hivos, the International Development Research Centre, the World Bank and more. Finally, we have also had the opportunity to collaborate with literally dozens of CSOs, governments and other institutions both in developing materials, doing investigations, and providing training.

A network owned by its members

Members of School of Data work to empower civil society organizations, journalists, governments and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively in their efforts to create better, more equitable and more sustainable societies.

Our members truly make School of Data unique!

After nearly 3 years of growth and shared successes, the time has come to formally recognise the growing array of School of Data partners and stakeholders and share ownership and decision making of School of Data with them.

We are very happy to announce that we have started the journey towards transitioning the ownership of the School of Data by establishing a governance structure. After intensive meetings, debates and voting during our last Summer Camp in Ottawa, the School of Data members elected a Steering Group and empowered them to represent the entire network, manage shared assets like the School of Data brand and fundraise for the network going forward. Our newly elected Steering Committee members are:

  • Juan Manuel Casanueva, Director of Social TIC
  • Bardhyl Jashari, Director of Metamorphosis, Macedonia
  • Natalia Mazotte, Programme Manager of School of Data Brazil
  • Sander van der Waal, Projects Director at Open Knowledge International
  • Antonio Cucho Gamboa, Senior School of Data fellow and Open Data Activist in Peru
Congratulations to our brand new and amazing Steering Committee!

Congratulations to our brand new and amazing Steering Committee!

The Steering Committee is supported by the School of Data coordination team whose work remains invaluable in managing programmes and running data literacy activities in close collaboration with our local partners.

Legally, School of Data will still be homed at Open Knowledge, who remains a key stakeholder. However, the goal of having a governance structure is to ensure long term sustainability and empower our community to participate in School of Data’s development.

What’s next?

The Steering Group and the School of Data coordination team have a lot of work ahead, especially as they establish this new model. One of their most important priorities is to set up a membership scheme and define a clear process to join the School of Data network.

We already have the basic principles of a membership model:

  • We strive for autonomy for our local partners and trust in our members
  • We will be united by shared values and passion for data literacy
  • We will continue to develop materials with open licence to encourage anyone to use, re-use and re-distribute them
  • Membership will be determined by shared values, intention to become a member and contribution to the network
  • The membership will be continuously validated though feedback and some quality control mechanisms
  • The benefits of membership are, among others, shared knowledge and projects, visibility and brand, peer support and solidarity and a vote for the steering committee or representation in decision making

Do you want to become a School of Data member? Please get in touch – this is the perfect time for us to explore new frontiers and build the foundations of an amazing network of data literacy practitioners around the world!

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School of Data Fellows: Applications are CLOSED!

- June 11, 2014 in Community, Update

Yesterday – 10th June, we closed our first ever round of applications for fellows. We are astounded by the response and wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who applied and everyone who helped with the outreach!

This is a quick post to slice and dice our applications data and to let applicants know about the next steps!

Image credits: Alex France on Flickr

We received over 200 applications from 51 different countries, here’s how they sliced up:

Applications by region:

Africa – 55
Asia- 45
Europe – 30
Latin America -52
MENA – 8
Not eligible/ Duplicate – 11

We’re also delighted to announce a large number of female applicants – approximately ⅓ of applicants. While we will clearly work to make sure we achieve even better than this in terms of equality, we are delighted to see such a promising start from our first round of applications!

What’s next?

The School of Data team and the crack team of local experts from each region will be combing the applications in the next few days. Shortlisted applicants will receive an email in the next few days requesting an interview with the team.

All candidates will be evaluated according to the same criteria. As a refresh, here’s what they are:

  • Overall impression
  • Teaching potential
  • Skills and experience
  • Potential to support NGOs and/ or journalists
  • Bonus points (as we mentioned before – things like superb videos or quirky application methods etc will be looked upon favourably)

What if I didn’t get selected or wasn’t eligible?

Don’t despair! We’re working on two major areas:

1) An enhanced community programme, which will outline lots of ways to get involved with School of Data. Watch this space or sign up for the newsletter below.
2) The next round of fellowship applications, we hope to be able to run this programme again – hopefully with a wider selection of countries. Watch this space!

Don’t want to miss an announcement? Sign up for the School of Data newsletter!

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How to earn a Badge at the School of Data (screencast)

- March 11, 2014 in Update

How to Earn a Badge at the School of data

This is a short screencast on how to earn a Badge at the School of Data.

You can earn Badges by completing the following modules:

Also you can get badges by attending events or participating in a data expedition!

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Badges are Here! Get yourself some.

- February 28, 2014 in Update

Starting today the School of Data supports Open Badges to acknowledge and reward your efforts to use data effectively. Get them for learning, participating and special achievements and show what you are doing around the School of Data.


Open Badges are a fantastic way to track and reward all the informal learning you do around the web. At the School of Data we decided to use them as a main tool for you to keep a record what you’re doing. We are not alone: Around the world educational institutions and other groups are awarding badges for learning and engagement – the School of Data now joins in, allowing you to better show skills you gained and things you did.

You’ll ask yourself – so what exactly do I have to do to be awarded a badge? Depending on the badge you’ll have to:

More possibilities will come.

To display your badges you’ll need to sign-up to a backpack – don’t worry you can do so on the way. The backpack is a virtual accessory that collects all your badges and allows you to display subsections of it. If you’re proud that you participated in a Data Expedition e.g. you can select to show that badge off to everyone!

Now what are you waiting for? Get yourself some badges!

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Help us alpha test the School of Data

- February 24, 2014 in Update

Exciting times are ahead at the School of Data. Currently we’re working hard behind the scenes to implement Open Badges. Badges will allow you to show (informally) what you’ve learned and done at the School of Data.

To get badges we’re revamping the Quizzes found on the bottom of some courses – if you answer a quiz and give an email address, you’ll receive a badge!

If you have 5-10 minutes spare, your help in getting the new infrastructure ready would be greatly appreciated! You can test the new quizzes, and/or the feedback form.

Both will be embedded into the School of Data website – and if you play it right you’ll be awarded an exclusive “alpha tester” badge! To claim the badge you’ll need to sign up for Mozilla’s backpack – don’t worry you can do this along the way.

If you find any bugs or unintended behavior: Please notify us either on schoolofdata [at] or post an issue on github

Thank you, dear community!

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