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Feedback from the 2016 Summer Camp: Precious

- August 16, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From May 15th to 21st, 40 people from 24 countries gathered at Ibúina in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp. Precious Onaimo, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Nigeria, shares his thoughts about the event.

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Aerial view of venue for Summer Camp 2016, Ibiuna, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Amidst Sao Paulo, Brazil’s alleged presidential fiscal irregularities scandal and the ravaging Zika Virus global health concern was a serene gathering of data literacy practitioners. They convened in Brazil at the occasion of the yearly School of Data Summer Camp.

As it is the goal of School of Data to enlist new data Fellows into her global family of data journalists, 10 Fellows from 9 countries and 3 continents were among the enthusiastic audience that gradually trickled into the beautiful and peaceful reserve that would be the venue of the 2016 Summer Camp with heightened expectations of an educative and refreshing data journalism seminar.

The first School of Data Summer Camp took place in 2014. It is an occasion for School of Data to evaluate the activities of the previous year and develop blueprints for the next year. And of high priority amongst the yearly goals for School of Data is the data literacy training for the newly inducted Fellows. In the mornings, the School of Data Summer Camp 2016 attendees were divided into two tracks:

  1. The Governance Track

  2. The Fellowship Track

The Governance track consisted of representatives of member organisations of the School of Data network, former Fellows, members of the School of Data Steering Committee, Marco Tulio Pires, School of Data Programme Manager and Dirk Slater, the official event facilitator. Participants held several sessions dealing with administrative and oversight duties for the year 2016 and finally elected the Steering Committee who would be saddled with oversight function for the year 2016 / 2017.

The Fellowship track comprised all the new Fellows – Nika, Omar, Malick, Danny, Ximena, Kabu, Raisa, Vadym, Paul and myself, representatives from Fellowship partner organisations (Katarina, Tin and Sergio), senior Fellows and some members of the School of Data coordination team (Cedric, Katelyn and David). To get us equipped for the task of promoting data literacy, and informing public debate and policy through data journalism in our respective countries, the track facilitators organized series of data skill training sessions. Some of the topics developed during these sessions included: “Community Mapping How to”, “Setting Fellowship Roadmaps”, “School of Data’s Data Pipeline”, “Event Planning and Anchoring”.

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School of Data’s New Data Fellows

During the afternoons, everyone took part in the Data Literacy track which was filled with additional training sessions. These included sessions such as ‘How to sell your Ideas’, ‘Responsible Data’, ‘Impact Assessment’, ‘Offline Data Collection’ and ‘Simple Statistical Analysis’.

These sessions trained me on how to convincingly sell my development ideas or initiatives to relevant stakeholders by concentrating on how the suggested initiative would help them save money, save time or make money, make time. Ability to attach cost saving analysis to discussions or argument makes a far reaching impression on the minds of listeners. Impact assessment, another skill that I learned about in these sessions, helps a project manager evaluate the effect a project would have on the intended community based on the opinions and preferences of the target audience. This is done by a series of iterative developmental feedback assessment from the target community. This approach would ensure that the project properly reflects the needs of the community and ensures its continued relevance and sustainability.

At the end of the 5 days, we had our heads filled with new data skills to be transferred to a diverse audience in our respective countries. We also left the camp with lingering memories of newly formed friendships, bonds and networks that would last a life-time.

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Bottle time with friends

Saturday May 28, 2016, as part of an educative summit organized by Escola de Dados (School of Data Brazil), facilitators from almost all journalistic realms came for one day to Sao Paulo to share their experiences, skills, knowledge, challenges and failures with a very enthusiastic audience. Though major parts of the programme were conducted in Portuguese, which were consequently not accessible to the Anglophone audience. A few sessions however, were conducted in English including Introduction to R Programming, Advanced Statistical Analysis and Data and Digital Security.

Looking back at the many events of this Summer Camp, I will remember the very educative and informative Fellowship sessions, the “all-eyes-on-you” morning go-arounds anchored by Dirk, the different but surprisingly delicious meals, the chilly cold mornings and the enchanting Escola de Dados summit. So worthy of mention and appreciation is the hard work, careful planning and forethought of Marco, Natalie and Meg (the invisible hand) in putting together this very memorable event. Once again, “Thank you!”

Summer Camp 2016 has come and gone but its values and ideals continue to grow.

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Feedback from the 2016 Summer Camp – Kabu

- August 12, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From May 15th to 21st, 40 people from 24 countries gathered at Ibúina in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp. Kabukabu Muhau, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Zambia, shares her thoughts about the event.

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SCODA 2016 Fellows. Left to right; Raisa, Danny, Ximena, Omar, Malick, Paul, Kabu, Vadym, Nika and Precious


Yep I know one Portuguese word thanks to the School of Data summer camp held in Ibiuna Brazil! Exciting right? But don’t you dare judge me for learning only one word. There was so much happening I could barely keep up! Plus the food was amazingly delicious; my mouth was always full with it!

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Omar and I getting more food ☺☺☺

Members of the community were exceptionally welcoming. I’ve never met so many people with such a passion for data! The camp brought together people with different data-literacy backgrounds and it was really awesome to learn about data from different perspectives.

So you may ask, what did you learn? Well, my main purpose in applying for the School of Data Fellowship was to learn new data skills that could be applicable in my home country Zambia, specifically in the health sector. To better explain the skills I learnt in the various data-literacy sessions (wish I could’ve attended more!) I attended, I will use the data pipeline: A data pipeline simply shows the different processes involved in data management. There are six main stages in the data pipeline;

  1. The the data pipeline starts with the DEFINE step, which is the same as problem identification; it is usually the first step in research. Defining a workable research problem, usually involve three steps:
    1. Selecting a topic area

    2. Selecting a general problem

    3. Reducing the general problem to a specific, precise and well delimited problem by listing possible answers to the general problem.

  2. Next comes the FIND step, wherein you have to find where the data you need is available. This involves various techniques, from using Google Search operators to identifying how the data could be collected in your environment.

  3. Then comes the GET step. In this part of the pipeline, you are required to collect the data that relates to the selected/identified problem. Different methods can be used to collect data depending on the selected problem.

  4. Data VERIFICATION is done after collection, to prove whether the data collected is valid or not

  5. CLEANING is done to remove inconsistencies in the data

  6. Data ANALYSIS is a process of evaluating the data and converting it to something more meaningful that could be used for decision making.

  7. PRESENTATION is the final stage in the data pipeline, where the analysed data is displayed by use of maps, graphs or tables or any other means.

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Various knowledge exchange sessions were held throughout the camp, which allowed me to learn many amazing skills that I will use through my fellowship and beyond:

“How to sell”, by Nika, another School of Data fellow from Latvia, was a sessions about the skills required towas a sessions about the skills required to sell a project idea to potential partners. It mainly focuses on four key points; NEED, FACT, ATTRIBUTE and BENEFIT.

  • Needs: talk about what has to be addressed

  • Fact: give evidence of similar projects you have done in the past and any results yielded

  • Attribute: mention any qualifications that you hold

  • Benefit: simply mention what the person or organisation will gain from partnering with you.

Yuandra Ismiraldi, a 2014 School of Data Fellow from Indonesia, Ismiraldi, a 2014 School of Data Fellow from Indonesia, and Malick Lingani, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Burkina Faso, Lingani, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Burkina Faso, conducted a session on how data can be collected using sensors. They explained how sensors can be used to measure the PH of water to determine its quality; and also measure temperature and humidity for weather forecast. The information collected from sensors is temporarily stored in a SIM card via a GPRSbee, a SIM card socket which allows the use of SIM cards as a temporary storage solution. The geocoded information is then sent to a central server at defined time intervals (every minute, hourly, daily).

I also also learnt about about a very important data cleaning tool called OpenRefine, which can be used to highlight inconsistencies in the dataset, then go on to clean them. It is so easy to use and I’ve already started practicing cleaning datasets with it. I think it is much better tool for data cleaning than the Excel I am used to.

Finally, while Finally, while I usually use SPSS for data analysis,, II was introduced to the statistics software the statistics software R at the camp and will soon be exploring how it works! Tableau is a data visualisation is a data visualisation tool I was also also introduced to and I plan to explore it it more. In addition, whenever I find myself in a situation where I need to present my data without using a computer, I will always refer the work of the work of Sylvia Fredriksson, from Ecole des données (School of Data France)Sylvia Fredriksson, from Ecole des données (School of Data France)on how to present data physically.

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Silvia’s physical data presentation session

During the Summer Camp, Fellows had a specific set of sessions tailored for their need: the Fellowship track. It was run by three amazing coordinators – Camilla, Cedric and David – and itand it introduced us us to the FFellowship programme. Thankfully, they guided us patiently, making the whole programme seem manageable. It was really exciting to meet people from different countries, to learn about their cultures and what they use data for in their everyday lives. I now have a bigger data-literacy family, all thanks to Summer Camp!

Muito obrigado SCHOOL OF DATA for this awesome opportunity!!! I guess I learnt more than one Portuguese word…

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We had a whole lot of fun!

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SCODA African team

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SCODA 2016 African fellows.

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Feedback from the 2016 Summer Camp: Malick

- August 6, 2016 in Event report, Fellowship

From May 15th to 21st, 40 people from 24 countries gathered at Ibúina in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the 2016 School of Data Summer Camp. Malick Lingani, a 2016 School of Data Fellow from Burkina Faso, shares his thoughts about the event.

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Photo: Hill climbing by the Campers, a good way to start the day

Summer Camp is the beginning of the eight-month School of Data Fellowship, where new members of the family learn from elders and work to set the goals that will govern their work in the coming months. In a private residence at Ibúina, Sao Paulo, the new data explorers found an ideal environment in which to stimulate their brains. The location was relatively quiet and entirely green, in the middle of Amazonia and next to a lake where Escola de Dados (School of Data in Portuguese) welcomed us. Despite the limited internet connection, I will say the continuous flow of great Brazilian cuisine, prepared by the most humble chefs, definitely made the camp a success. Before getting into the nitty-gritty, it is appropriate to present School of Data.

School of Data: what is it?

School of Data is a project of Open Knowledge International, launched in May 2012, which aims to empower civil society by teaching the skills necessary to use open data. The project was birthed on the fact that civil society (citizens, NGOs, journalists, associations, etc.) could greatly benefit from the power of open data but lack the skills needed to understand, analyze and utilise it effectively.

What happens at Summer Camp?

A typical day at Summer Camp began at 9:00 AM, after breakfast, with a gathering next to the lake called “opening circle”, a session designed to provide an overview of the day’s objectives. Dirk Slater, Summer Camp facilitator, lead this session in a pretty relaxed way, just to put everyone at ease and encourage the participation of all:

“What is the first thing you will do once you are back home?” – Dirk; and Kabu replied: “Find my cousin and have fun”. (Laughs…) it was on day 5; just imagine?

After the Opening Circle, participants dispersed to either the “Governance Track” or the “Fellowship Track.” The Governance Track gathered mentors who have the task to work on the governance of the organization, make last year’s review, set new goals and elect the new Steering Committee. I participated in the Fellowship Track in which we worked to set our fellowship objectives.

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Photo: Paul explaining his objectives to other Fellows and mentors

Overall, each of the Fellows will work to promote the use of data by journalists, CSOs and other interested parties by communicating and organizing training sessions, and also by producing online training modules, tutorials and blog posts. In doing this exercise, we were also assisted by experts in the topic in which we will be promoting the use of data. To recap, the topics for this year are: extractives, health, ethical uses of data, data journalism and gender issues.

In a second step, we worked to determine the tasks and scheduled them in order to achieve our objectives. Here, David reminded us that we have just 10 days a month for our Fellowship work and, because of this, we should avoid scheduling important activities successively, in one month.

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Photo: Cédric Lombion commenting on our programmes

Topic experts also assisted us in this phase. My topic is Extractives and Katarina from Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) helped me identify workshops and conferences in which I could participate as a Trainer or Speaker.

During the afternoon, we shared our experiences of data-literacy activities. Every day, 2 sessions were held during which 5 workshops were ran simultaneously. I learned some socio-economic and environmental analyzes on EITI data of some African countries. Katarina facilitated this session.

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Photo: Katarina presenting some analyses from Extractives data

Many other sessions have hugely enriched me during the five days of Summer Camp. Among others, there were:

  • ‘How to sell ideas?’ by Nika Aleksejeva,

  • ‘Introduction to Tableau’, by Daniel Villatoro,

  • ‘What visualization for what purpose?’, by Dirk Slater and

  • ’How to mobilize data journalists in Turkey’ by Pinar Dag.

(The Data Literacy Pipeline I found on a wall, by accident).

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Photo: Data Literacy Pipeline

Around 7:00 p.m., came the “Closing circle”, a moment to make a brief review of the day. Dirk asked everyone to give their most remarkable experience of the day, including the difficulties they may have encountered. The ‘Closing Circle’, is also the moment when surprise announcements are made. I remember particularly when Marco announced on May 20th that we will have a party that night. Samba, Tango and Salsa were the highlights of the dancefloor. Yes, that’s also part of the SCODA Camp (School of Data Camp). Another flagship announcement was the program of the Conference of Data Journalism of Brazil, to be held on May 21st.

The #CODA-BR: The Conference of Data Journalism of Brazil

On the evening of May 20th, we left the camp, the green paradise. Three hour drive to reach the metropolitan city, Sao Paulo. We alight with our suitcases in the center of this city, which is the symbol of the emergence of Brazil. Our friends from Escola de Dados carefully arranged everything. On May 21st from 9:00 a.m, we were gratified with a rich and memorable conference. Experiences of data journalism in Brazil and Latin America were shared in plenary sessions.

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Photo: Juan presenting data journalism experiences from Latin America.

Afterwards, various workshops took place, focused on data processing tools and techniques, data analysis and visualization. Analysis of data with Google’s tools, encryption and digital security for journalists, data visualization with d3.js, introduction to R and Python for journalists and OpenRefine for fast data processing were among other sessions not to miss.

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Photo: Data analysis for journalists with Google tools by Marco.

I left the Summer Camp filled with confidence that our contribution, as modest as it may be, to a more “Data-Literate” world will spread like wildfire. I must give back this knowledge to my community as prescribed. So, it is with pleasure that I will work with journalists, CSOs, students and researchers to advance Data Literacy back home.

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Video: School of Data Summer Camp

- September 15, 2014 in Community, Events

We’re proud to share a video all about School of Data. In 5 minutes, you will learn about School of Data with introductions to School of Data Network members, Fellows and staff. You will get a window into the spirit of School of Data Summer Camp 2014.

About School of Data Summer Camp

The School of Data Summer Camp brought together local initiatives and School of Data Fellows to build the foundation for a buzzing and productive coming year. Last year we kicked off a Spanish, French, Portuguese and Greek site as well as local initiatives around the world. On a more individual level we’ve been working with fellows worldwide to bring data skills to their communities. With a new round of fellows coming we want to get together and unify our vision, goals and methods. Our goal was to make everyone go home with better skills and a clear vision where we’ll take the School of Data together!

Special thanks goes to our funders who made all of this possible: Partnership for Open Data (World Bank, Open Data Institute, and Open Knowledge), Hewlett Foundation, Open Society Foundations, IndigoTrust, the British Embassy Skopje, Hivos, and SEATTI.

(Video Created by Sam Muirhead of Camera Libre)

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