Open Education Handbook/Open Data & Institutions
Open education is fundamentally about removing barriers to education. Opening up data of any sort fits with this agenda and activities around open licensing in particular are both important and hugely supportive. But secondly, and possibly more importantly, opening up education data gives us the potential to see education and its components differently. This new perspective provides us with an opportunity to revolutionise education and make it better.
As David Lassner, Interim president and former chief information officer at the University of Hawaii explains:
“Our opportunities for improvement are immense, and data provide a powerful lens to understand how we are doing internally and relative to our peers. This applies across all segments of what we do, from teaching and learning to administrative support. Performance metrics and dashboards are the beginning, but using data to understand deeper correlations and causality so we can shape change will be critical as we strive to advance our effectiveness.”
The movement for open education is ultimately about wanting better education for all. Open education data is proving to be an important instrument in achieving that goal.
The charitable mission of education can be helped through a commitment to open data, help educators and institutions to engage with learners more effectively and in better ways. Data openness and exchange can drive quality research (collaboration, testing, replication) while promoting the social role and place of institutions themselves, helping maintain public and political commitment to the institution and making it more transparent.
Education institutions are already subject to freedom of information, but new open research data policies (such as the HEFCE consultation on inclusion as part of next Research Excellence Framework) may alter obligations. Large amounts of institutional data (finance, student performance, etc.) are already collected by HESA and UCAS and made widely available, and this is a trend which can be observed in many countries. The next logical step is for more open data about institutions to be made available. With agreed frameworks and metrics in place it will be easier to substantiate comparisons and claims about widening participation, or student performance, for example.
Institutions can use their own data to inform decisions and management practices, and improve business and pedagogical intelligence. By linking across other open data sets and curating the most relevant information staff and students can be supported in teaching and learning.
Always check with your institution before releasing any institutional information openly!