Can anyone point me to some folks in the open data community who are working on projects exploring ways to use open data to improve educational outcomes for underrepresented groups?

(Jonathan Brown) #1

In Ontario, Canada we are looking for examples of where educational, transportation, childcare and other types of social assistance and program data are being mashed at the municipal level to help citizens access what they need to achieve their education and career/life goals.

(Jose Serrano-McClain) #2

This is not exactly education-related, but housing-related:

These are cases of open data used in anti-gentrification organizing in Oakland.

(Steven Ryan) #3

Professor Peter Bergman at the Teachers College in Columbia, along with some co-authors, is doing some work with, a rental listing website for folks with housing vouchers, to include additional information about school quality in different neighborhoods where listed properties are located. Right now the study is ongoing, so there’s no working paper available yet, but I think it will be very interesting to see how including publicly available information about school quality changes people’s decisions about where to move using their voucher.

(Richard Culatta) #4

One of the projects we worked on at ED was making the US higher ed performance data available for students to make more informed decisions about college choices. Might want to check out:

(Jonathan Brown) #5

Thanks for the feedback. These are good suggestions, just need to figure out how the different pieces of information can help plan an educational pathway at the community level that includes creative ways to address support issues like transportation, housing and child care.

(Stephen Midgley) #6

Open Data in education is obviously fraught, as in health, b/c a lot of key/interesting data is PII, and so restricted to schools and contracted vendors and researchers. Releasing that data, even in aggregate form, turns out to be expensive and time consuming - so certain kinds of data aren’t often available or used effectively as open data sets…

With that preamble, I’ve worked on the problem of opening up metadata about learning resources. We’ve barely scratched the surface but some related projects are: GoOpen and Learning Registry.

I’m also working on the Credential Transparency Initiative which is designed to open up data about credentials which can be earned (incl plumber’s certificate and PhD in Astrophysics).

I’m working with a non-profit called UnboundEd on opening learning resources themselves. There are issues here are opening the data while presenting the resources with a coherent structure. Opening data permits local agencies and teachers to adjust the materials to their local circumstances, and use the tools they choose to manage and deliver the resources, but if the data aren’t inclusive of sufficient context it becomes hard to say that the sharing of open data is doing much good.

All of the above are partial solutions, but all depend on open data or information of one kind or another in education… I hope that’s helpful!

(juan siles) #7

buen dia : diseñe una estructura de manejo de datos que va desde los datos mas generales a los mas particulares de un sector escolar considerando en inicio un modelo prototipo de multiples entradas de datos , estas entradas en inicio fueron los siguientes , asistencia puntual de profesores y alumnos ,temas vistos , temas revisados , respuesta a preguntas de clase , preparación de tareas , resultados de calficacion de tareas , calificaciones de examen .
se inicio con hoja de calculo excel comĂşn de uso en escuela de educacion secundaria , se utilizo un escaner una computadora portatil aportada por direcciĂłn para captura de datos , esta operacion se ejecuto durante seis meses , pertenecientes a un grupo de 30 alumnos
los requisitos por parte del profesor sólidos conocimientos de captura , interpretación de datos y conocer conceptos básicos de estadística , media , rango y desviación estándar .
El propĂłsito final es colocar los datos que por encuesta se solicitĂł a los padres de familia y profesores de los cuales decidieron cuales serian los mas representativos , esto a razĂłn de que no existen los criterios por polĂ­tica pĂşblica para este efecto
un inconveniente es utilizar materiales que no sean posibles escanear .
Por el momento este modelo es esta replicando para otros grupos del mismo plantel y se trabaja en la secretaria de EducaciĂłn para establecer los criterios normativos
He de mencionar que este proyecto lo dirigir como voluntario para trasladarlo a una persona en relaciĂłn a la educaciĂłn ya que mi campo de acciĂłn es otro . el cual de relaciona con la energĂ­a .

(Jonathan Brown) #8

Useful resources, Stephen. How do they use open data? Is the process similar to the CollegeScoreCard that Richard posted? I’m also familiar with federated repositories that can search for Open Education Resources. Is that similar to the way you have done it with Unbounded? For example, could you combine Khan Academy resources with your platform?

(Stephen Midgley) #9

Hi Jonathan. CTI is sharing open data for purposes of enabling systems and information innovation “on top of” the data. They are “backing up” the open data onto’s collection system ( I think this is a notable innovation in open data, as it allows a community to ensure that its data set will far outlast the life of the systems that hold the data (the servers, databases, api’s and similar).

UnboundEd is trying to figure out how to convey more structured information about their learning resources in metadata so they can be shared more broadly. So the structured information (a kind of metadata, probably based on could be used by Khan Academy or other orgs that have structured learning resources (and not just point solutions for a given problem).

UnboundEd also has to figure out how to convey the content itself to other systems, whether via IMS Common Cartridge or custom approaches via systems’ existing APIs… They are trying to get out of the business of managing PDF files and distributing that way…

The goal is to make learning resources in general more “web compatible.” Khan Academy has a done a pretty good job of this, and it’s easier for them (and UnboundEd) than for-profit organizations b/c authorization requirements for access make it harder to make metadata open…

I hope this is helpful…

(William Huang) #10

Hi Jonathan,

This year, My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) and the White House Office of Social Innovation are collaborating to highlight and support MBK’s focus to build on "what works.” To advance that focus, they continued the MBK “What Works” Monthly Technical Assistance Series to build MBK communities’ capacity to better integrate evidence and data into the execution and evaluation of their social interventions.

The fifth session in the TA webinar series was titled “Evaluation and Evidence-Based Decision-Making” was held this past July, with the following speakers:

  • Moderator: Ursula Wright, Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary for Special Projects, U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement
  • Robert W Simmons III, EdD, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA)
  • Alexandra Resch, Associate Director, Mathematica Policy Research
  • Lisa Soricone, Senior Research Manager, Jobs for the Future
  • Valtena G. Brown (Deputy Superintendent/Chief Operating Officer) and Luis Diaz (Administrative Director), School Operations, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

You can view a recording of the webinar here.

Two projects you might find interesting/relevant:

  • Robert Simmons spoke about CBMA creating the Black Male Achievement (BMA) City Index, which scores 50 US cities based on their visible level of engagement and committed action on behalf of black men and boys, a demographic within the US that faces unique challenges on the path to success in education, work and life. The BMA City Index uses a telescopic lens, relying on vetted publicly available data and information sources to score a city’s level of engagement and committed action helping Black men and boys achieve. In doing this, it also sets a benchmark for what strong engagement and committed action looks like in any city or town, and allows individual cities to assess their current status and take action to accelerate their work.

  • Luis Diaz spoke about how Miami Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) looked at data from the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that showed black students were suspended at a rate three times greater than white students. This data prompted M-DCPS to rethink school discipline, including getting rid of out-of-school suspensions and implementing alternative methods. These changes have led to a variety of positive outcomes, including a year-over-year drop in suspensions and improved achievement and attendance data for the district.

In addition, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), a partner in our What Works Cities initiative, is active in this space. A project that might be of interest to you:

  • GovEx is one of more than a dozen nonprofit and private organizations supporting the Opportunity Project, launched out of the White House in March 2016 to catalyze the creation of new digital tools that use federal and local data to empower communities with information about critical resources, such as affordable housing, quality schools, and jobs. You can view the education-related projects out of the Opportunity Project here and read more about GovEx’s involvement here.

Hope this is helpful.

(Aden Van Noppen) #11

Hi Jonathan,

I’ll pile on here. As part of the most recent launch of Opportunity Project tools, a handful to teams built new digital tools to expose equity gaps between schools. They did this using a new Department of Education “Civil Rights Data Collection” API. The tech teams who built the tools (including Great Schools and Linkedin) did so in collaboration with federal employees, local governments, subject matter experts, and non-profit implementors. The White House and Census bring together these cohorts and facilitate the software development “sprints” over the course of eight weeks.

I help to lead this project and I’m happy to go into further detail.


(Jonathan Brown) #12

Yes, this is helpful. Are you aware of xAPIs and Learning Record Stores? I wonder if there might be a connection.

Here’s an example:

(Jonathan Brown) #13

Miami Dade County example of one-stop community resource for those transitioning from incarceration back into the community who face multiple barriers and the Black Male Achievement City Index lifespan indicators in combination with the Opportunity Project survey would make for an interesting community-based open data project based on the rapid fire experiment Lisa described in the webinar ( ).

Roberts point about the experience of Black Male Achievement’s reporting requirements when working with higher-levels of government is so true. The further away from where the rubber hits the road, the more onerous the reporting based on quantitative data to meet the results-based planning and program outcome measures used by policymakers. It would be good to see how Baltimore’s open data dashboard could be used to support small, rapid program improvement initiated at the school-neighborhood level through community partnerships. The challenge would be targeting a highly mobile population whose educational lifespan events are non-linear within and across neighborhoods.

(Stephen Midgley) #14

Hi Jonathan,

Yes - I collaborated with ADL on the early structure of xAPI. IMS has “Caliper” which is a similiar/competing approach. Learning Tapestry (my company) released an open source LRS designed to accept Javascript activity statements.

We also released the Metadata Registry as open source, which is designed to make sharing open metadata in public much easier - that’s the code that runs the CTI “Credential Engine Registry”. - CTI’s staging metadata is here:

Finally, we’re also working on a proposal for how orgs can use “sitemap.xml” files to help open up the public metadata that are sitting inside their websites - making it easier for smaller orgs to “crawl” and find relevant resources. Input welcome on that too:

Best, Steve

(J. Albert Bowden) #15


This is pretty cool! LD is the bridge from 2.0 to 3.0! Or rather, to get from the web of documents to the web of linked documents, we are going to have to link them via linked data.
A few thoughts: open search does many of these things out of the box; I think you should definitely look into the benefits of simply setting up the service in a site.
I have to ask, why aren’t microformats being considered as an option?
To that point, I know Google prefers JSON-LD, but that doesn’t sell it for me. A year or two ago they preferred, so its not unheard of for things to change.
Again, I could say more…but really like the initiative! Nicely done!


(Jonathan Brown) #16

Any examples of how CTI partners would use open data so that clients could crawl local job opportunities based on their profile?

(J. Albert Bowden) #17

virginia state government had a hackathon this past year specifically for job location/opportunities. i’m not sure of the outcome(s) entirely, but might be worth your while to search for it and the winners/outcomes.

(Jonathan Brown) #18

Here’s an idea I adapted to the energy sector. I discovered it in the posted recording of the Open Mapping Mapathon and ODINE workshops. I think it is easier to get buy-in for open data fron the educational sector if they are invited to partner with municipalities and upper tier regional governments to support sustainable community development.

  1. Mashing GridWatch real-time data with local environmental data from Stats Canada and provincial open data catalogues similar to what Plum Labs has done for monitoring air quality in Toronto.
  2. OpenStreetMap would be a good platform to use because it is non-proprietary. See how Pinterest is using it to allow developers to create Place Pins for users to map Pinteresting Things. The idea of a Mapathon comes from the folks at MapBox. Here is an example that was used to support humanitarian relief efforts in Jamaica and Haiti
  3. Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is one possibility for funding (see below).There is also a government-wide initiative led by the Ontario Treasury Board that requires all ministries to identify potential savings in their budgets to support innovation. The process, referred to as the “Program Review and Renewal Transformation” or PRRT Opportunity, is designed to address the need for greater efficiency in the public infrastructure.

With the cost of hydro on everyone’s mind, a mapathon challenge would be relevant to both students and employers. Also, this kind of “experiential” event would support the government’s goal of promoting 21st century teaching and learning, a highly skilled workforce and more experiential learning outside the classroom. A possible outcome would be to demonstrate how municipalities and upper tier levels of government can use open data to “extend the reach of resources and amplify the potential for impact.”

For example, GeoSpatialNiagara is doing some interesting projects that use local data to support teaching and learning

They also participate in the Niagara Knowledge Network powered by Niagara Connects, a Niagara-wide network for collaboration, planning, learning, innovation and community action.”

A Mapthon event could increase awareness of how federal and provincial resources can be leveraged to improve energy conservation at the community level. One indicator of success might be the uptake in government grants that support local job creation and sustainable development through Channel Allies

Here is an example of how grant money could be mapped. This was developed by one of the Toronto Open Data Book Club members using OTF open data:

(Jonathan Brown) #19

Richard, are you familiar with this resource ? I can see a role for open data in fostering community-based education that makes the credential fit the learner not the learner fit the credential if curricula standards can be mapped to experiential learning opportunities and real-time data at the local level. For example, under-represented groups could be shown how to use a Learning Record Store like the Learning Locker to track their experiential learning for equivalent credits, similar to the open badges started by Mozilla Desire2Learn has a proprietary resource called the Achievement Standards Network that is machine readable. You can request an API for curricula standards from different jurisdictions. What is missing are real-time machine readable datasets at the municipal level that can support cooperative learning experiences outside the classroom. This would help those on social assistance to self-advocate for the resources they need to break out of the poverty cycle.

(Jonathan Brown) #20

Here is an example of how Open Data is being used in postsecondary teaching and learning in Ontario:

Here’s how professors are using for research projects with their students: