Why run a School of Data workshop?

Recently I have discussed the reasons for running a workshop like the one we did ahead of a hackathon this spring.

Among the possible outcomes of a School of Data workshop, I would include:

  • Familiarizing participants with Open Data principles, licenses, formats and tools;
  • Collecting basic feedback on topical interests and overall accessibility of Open Data resources;
  • Obtaining specific feedback on any usability issues, documenting any points of confusion;
  • Promoting certain high interest datasets, adding annotations and tips for future users;
  • Opening potential feedback loops with data publishers, encouraging contact and exchange;
  • Improving the basis for future application development through tutorials and examples.

The experience from dozens of workshops and expeditions, as well as materials from the School of Data network help us to be able to quickly prepare to facilitate another.

Nevertheless, running a high quality workshop takes preparation, promotion and dedication. We may wish to involve people outside of our own community, and this requires preparing material for a general audience. We may wish to keep the barrier to entry low, and charge a minimal fee - or no fee at all. Basic amenities like Post-Its and writing materials, drinks and snacks, go a long way to help create a productive, creative atmosphere.

I hope that more organisations and especially grassroots initiatives like hackathons and civic challenges will consider embarking on data expeditions with the School of Data, and pledge to continue supporting such efforts for the foreseeable future.