Open Data for Learning: A Case Study in Higher Education

Juliana Elisa Raffaghelli
Open University of Catalonia - University of Girona, Spain


Nowadays there is increasing public pressure to open the data generated by public administration and the scientific system, being these activities maintained through public funding (Zuiderwijk & Janssen, 2014). In fact, the so called movement of “Open Data” embraces a philosophy of democratization of knowledge that can be considered in line with the prior movements of Open Access and Open Science. The most enthusiastic discourses on the availability of data and the feasibility of appropriation by the civil society are based on politic ideals as empowerment, public engagement and political monitoring, from one side; from the other side, big (open) data can be the base for new business models and crowd-work models towards economic development (Baack, 2015). However, this utopia could be hindered by an already well-known problem in the digital society: the need of skills and knowledge to navigate within the digital abundance that is continuously produced by the digital and open world. Some have compared the problem of appropriation of open data to the phenomenon of digital divide(Gurstein, 2011). As Zuiderwijk, Janssen, Choenni, Meijer, and Alibaks (2012) claimed, for the access to open data become civic monitoring and empowerment, it would be necessary for citizens to have minimal skills that lead them to understand which are the social problems monitored through data and to read the eventual representations already available to formulate new questions (Zuiderwijk et al., 2012).

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