Support grassroots data literacy this summer!

One year after the idea was announced in open further education and in the data journalism community, then incubated in the Swiss chapter of Open Knowledge - I am super excited to share that we have received an invitation for a representative from Switzerland to take part in the annual School of Data Summer Camp together with fellows and leads of established chapters around the world.

Thanks to support from and, our colleague on community projects Florian Wieser has stepped up to represent us in Brazil, where the Summer Camp takes place this year. Next week we hope to formally launch the Swiss School of Data chapter (schoolofdata.CH) through a two-year Memorandum of Understanding with the other countries involved. Stay tuned for his reports and insights on this exciting next step for the initiative!

There are going to be lots of opportunities this year to connect to the data literacy movement, interact with the masters, and get international support. A great way to support this is to take part in the upcoming 2016 conference in the middle of June.

We will create documentary material to share through our blog, this forum and social media followers - as well as, of course, future data literacy workshops. You should consider taking part in upcoming data expeditions and other events.

Please donate to or via Bitcoin using the button above to support our campaign - all proceeds will go to launching expeditions and free or low-cost data literacy workshops. Thanks!

Florian will join the Summer Camp this Sunday - please send him any thoughts or questions you have to the School of Data community - watch this forum for his posts about the experience. And in the meantime, check out our latest Data Expedition and revised Concept paper which we are going to be intensively developing and promoting with the wider community this summer.

We had a Skype chat last weekend with Florian during the Ecovillages hackathon, during which his Portugese was briefly tested by a native speaker taking part in the hackathon (result: não compreendo :wink:). ​His first impressions​ from the Summer Camp​ which began on Sunday, with my comments in-line:

​​I wanted to give you a short feedback about the first day here. Already, I have to thank you to sending me here. It’s definitely a very interesting gathering of people!

The implied people are 36 individuals from around the world, representing Open Knowledge International and its French, Spanish, Greek, German chapters, as well as steering committee members, facilitators and representatives from organizations that include Code for South Africa, SocialTIC, Metamorphosis, Fab Riders, Connected Development, Dağ Medya, National Resource Governance Institute and The Engine Room. Several Senior Fellows and of course each of the new 2016 Fellows of the School of Data are there accelerating their data competency at the Summer Camp.​

Today, we were mainly talking about what school of data is. What are the states of the different chapters and the network as a whole. I joined the governance track – hope to be able to contribute here.

There are 3 tracks: ​Governance, Fellowships and Data Literacy​.

Stated goals of the Governance track that Florian is attending are to:

  • Deepen our understanding of how we provide value and benefit as a network.
  • Assess past efforts of establishing a governance structure for the network and lay groundwork for the future.
  • Explore avenues towards continued building of sustainable School of Data chapters and network.

Florian notes, in his first face-to-face encounters with the global team:

Structure: What I see is that the organization is still quite young and that the structures are still quite weak and in progress to be built.

​As with many grassroots organizations in the Internet age, there is a tendency to hit the ground running and build ​up enormous momentum overnight. The School of Data started under the wing of Open Knowledge and has been making good progress to stand on its own footing last year. Clearly there is a lot of ground to cover, or as Florian puts it, necessary structures to build. I wonder what role we ​can play in this process.

Potential: However, I have the impression that there is a great potential within the organization to develop further. In case, we are going to build School of Data Switzerland, I think we are quite free to define the exact focus of our chapter.

Great creative possibility comes out of great constraints​ (source). We have been struggling to find our ‘exact focus’ for over a year now. Or, you could also say, we have several focii and no consensus on which should take priority - supporting the open (government) data movement, running low cost accessible public workshops, generative/data art projects, working with young people, and so on

Unfortunately, there is almost no internet, so having a skype will be very difficult​.

There is much to be said about taking the time to disconnect. I’m glad Florian is finding the time for these updates.

​Another letter​,​ late last night:

​_​​We finished the second day of the Summer Camp. It’s really intense with a lot of sessions._

The session on governance today was on creating a shared vision with all the member organizations. We haven’t finished the conversation but it’s going in the direction of: “An international community of people dedicated to building a knowledge-based society with accountable governments and trustworthy media.”

The afternoon sessions were on how to foster data-literacy so I took part in a first session on how to conduct a data-expedition, which was quite interesting. The second session in the afternoon was on how to give a training and some insights on learning of adults.

_Last but not least, tomorrow I ​[am going to] hold one of the afternoon-sessions presenting a case study on a international network on early childhood education I did last year and see how this can be translated into the institutional development of the School of Data Network._​

Part of this session later today will be to talk about collaboration of the European Chapters. I have asked Florian and the others to bring back 3 challenges for the next 3 years of our initiative - can’t wait to hear what they will come up with.

We can follow the group which continues together until Friday at #ScodaCamp16. If you would also like to send questions or notes to Florian for his last days in Brazil, now would be a perfect moment to do that.