Open Education Handbook/Using Open Data

Well-defined use cases are starting to emerge but can be still hard to find. It would be good to find use cases for policy makers, university managers, academic instructor, researchers, policy and education departments and in the vocational area. This section discusses some case studies and provides information about a range of projects using open data for education.

Open Discovery Space Case Study


The EU-funded Open Discovery Space (ODS) project aims to create a platform for teachers across Europe for sharing and repurposing of open educational resources. This objective is covered well in the resources section of this handbook. However, ODS, also deals with mining data and usage for further improving the value chain of educational resources and open education. It creates a social data layer around education resources that crowd sources appreciation and usage data. Social data in this context is appreciation metadata that further describes a resource. It comprises intentional user inputs such as Likert scale star ratings, comments, free or guided tags, shares, etc. From these datasets aggregations can be used in an infinite number of mashups to provide e.g. resource recommendations or karma measures. In addition, ODS also uses tracking data (called paradata) which collects users’ activities in the ODS portal (e.g. looking at a resource, downloading, etc). This allows for other statistical analytics such as most looked-at, or most downloaded resource. In more sophisticated ways it also permits to draw conclusions about the similarity of users that looked at or downloaded the same resources or that follow similar type users. Analogous methods are well known from social networks (Facebook: “friends you may know”, Twitter: “people who you may want to follow”), sales sites (Amazon: “people who looked at this also looked at…”), or review portals (Tripadvisor: “most popular or most highly rated hotel”).

ODS goes beyond collecting data from users of the portal alone, but also harvests social data from other OER portals. This is to say that if a user star-rates a resource in a sister portal to ODS, this rating will enter the ODS ratings data through a data harvesting cycle. In this way, opinion mining is not restricted to a single portal alone and enhances the value of the resource descriptor no matter where the users tag it. Harvesting social metadata from other portals encounters no legal obstacles, even if this data is not linked open data, because: (1) it is anonymous data and cannot be connected to a user’s identity, (2) there is no copyright associated with protecting user expressions like star ratings, bookmarks or keyword tags. This is because it does not constitute an act of (substantial) creativity on behalf of the author of such social metadata.

ODS not only re-uses social data from associated repositories, it also aims at exposing its own data as open linked data to other third party service providers. It has to be said, though, that paradata (recording user activities in the portal) is not going to be exposed due to ethical and privacy reasons.

Higher Education



  • London Schools Atlas: The London Schools Atlas is an innovative interactive online map providing a uniquely detailed and comprehensive picture of London schools, current patterns of attendance and potential future demand for school places. Data behind the atlas is available from the data store.
  • RM Schoolfinder: School Finder allows you to compare and contrast different schools, find out about what they excel at and how well children do academically. Most of the information comes from official statistical releases published by the Department for Education and Ofsted including School Performance Tables, GCSE Subject Results, school information from Edubase and summaries of the Ofsted school inspection report.
  • Guardian GCSE schools guide: The Guardian GCSE schools guide is designed to help parents find and research local schools in England. Search by postcode to find which schools offer individual subjects, and compare how they have performed in GCSE results. Data is supplied by the Department of Education. School impact measures are based upon FFT contextual value-added scores by permission of FFT Education Ltd.
  • OFSTED School Data Dashboard: The School Data Dashboard provides a snapshot of school performance at Key Stages 1, 2 and 4. The dashboard can be used by school governors and by members of the public to check the performance of the school in which they are interested. The data is available in RAISEonline - you will need to login to access the data and not all is openly available.
  • presents Tanzanian Form 4 exam results in some very interesting ways., the site was put together by a group of young Tanzanian software developers, led by Arnold Minde, with some support from Twaweza. The site uses open data from the Tanzanian government.
  • E-school Estonia - Provides an easy way for education stakeholders to collaborate and organize teaching/learning information. The system has a range of different functions for its various users. Teachers enter grades and attendance information in the system, post homework assignments, and evaluate students’ behavior. Parents use it to stay closely involved in their children’s education. With the help of round-the-clock access via the internet, they can see their children’s homework assignments, grades, attendance information and teacher’s notes, as well as communicate directly with teachers via the system. Students can read their own grades and keep track of what homework has been assigned each day. They also have an option to save their best work in their own, personal e-portfolios. District administrators have access the latest statistical reports on demand, making it easy to consolidate data across the district’s schools.
  • Education GPS - the OECD source for internationally comparable data on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes. Accessible any time, in real time, the Education GPS provides you with the latest information on how countries are working to develop high-quality and equitable education systems.
  • The Learning Curve Index combines national data and a number of international rankings - including PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS - to provide an interpretation of how countries systems are performing relative to each other.
  • The Open Institute based in Nairobi worked on KCPE Trends which aggregates and visualizes education performance data for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) from 2006 to 2011.
  • In Brazil the school census collects data about violence in school area (like drug traffic or other risks to pupils). Based on an open data platform developed to navigate through the census, it was possible to see that, in a specific Brazilian state, 35% of public schools had drug traffic near the schools. This fact created a pressure in the local government to create a public policy and a campaign to prevent drug use among students.
  • In Burkina Faso they have opened their open data portal ( The open data team of the government have worked with civil society and some start-up to realise a pilot project that consist on visualizing on a map the primary schools of a municipality. In addition, some important indicators for Burkina were present. Those indicators (proximity of canteen, latrine, or potable water point) can help parents choose the best school for their children, investors to choose the better place to build a school, or the government itself to measure the impact of its actions. They also have information on success rates in examinations, the number of classes, the number of teachers, the number of girls and boys, the geo-localisation of the school, and we also displayed a picture of the school.
  • Kenya - Using data that we collected from the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) and the Kenya Open Data Portal, the Open Institute released KCPE Trends, a simple tool designed to visualise Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) performance records of primary schools in Kenya from 2006 to 2011.
  • Social Accountability for the Education Reform in Moldova - website enabling the public to monitor the schools' performance. We've put up the planned expenditures for all the schools in Moldova (2014), on, until we build the new website. There is budget expenditure for 2013 and investment for capital repairs, data displayed using OpenSpending's treemap.
  • Open Government Data: Helping Parents to find the Best School for their Kids (World Bank)
  • Discover Your School, developed under the Province of British Columbia of Canada Open Data Initiative, is a platform for parents who are interested in finding a school for their kids, learning about the school districts or comparing schools in the same area. The application provides comprehensive information, such as the number of students enrolled in schools each year, class sizes, teaching language, disaster readiness, results of skills assessment, and student and parent satisfaction. Information and data can be viewed in interactive formats, including maps. On top of that, Discover Your School engages parents in policy making and initiatives such as Erase Bullying or British Columbia Education Plan.
  • The School Portal, developed under the Moldova Open Data Initiative, uses data made public by the Ministry of Education of Moldova to offer comprehensive information about 1529 educational institutions in the Republic of Moldova. Users of the portal can access information about schools yearly budgets, budget implementation, expenditures, school rating, students’ grades, schools’ infrastructure and communications. The School Portal has a tool which allows visitors to compare schools based on different criteria – infrastructure, students’ performance or annual budgets. The additional value of the portal is the fact that it serves as a platform for private sector entities which sell school supplies to advertise their products. The School Portal also allows parents to virtually interact with the Ministry of Education of Moldova or with a psychologist in case they need additional information or have concerns regarding the education of their children.
  • RomaScuola, developed under the umbrella of the Italian Open Data Initiative, allows visitors to obtain valuable information about all schools in the Rome region. Distinguishing it from the two listed above is the ability to compare schools depending on such facets as frequency of teacher absence, internet connectivity, use of IT equipment for teaching, frequency of students’ transfer to other schools and quality of education in accordance with the percentage of issued diplomas.
  • Open Data for Education in Brazil
  • In New Zealand: open government data on schools in an app to help you find schools in local area
  • provides a wealth of information about education in the USA. The Open Data inventory provides more data reported to the Department of Education.
  • Brazil example where local schools analysed data on crime in the local area and used this to encourage government intervention.
  • Bahawalpur Service Delivery Unit (BSDU), an initiative by the Government of Punjab province in Pakistan, aims to engage citizens in the governance of service delivery. Led by Imran Sikandar Baloch, District Coordination Officer of Bahawalpur district in Punjab, this initiative is built on open data and has already delivered increased attendance of teachers and students over the past year. Technology and design partner for this initiative is Technology for People Initiative based at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. It features a mobile app that allows officials and citizens to monitor attendance by teachers and students at school. The information is aggregated online and made publicly accessible. The aim is to enable and motivate citizens to collect, analyze and disseminate service delivery data in order to drive performance and help effective decision making. The initiative has led to improved teacher attendance, which in turn has led to improved pupil grades. By showing how open data can help in the developing world, BDSU won the Making Voices Count global innovation competition.
  • Check My School is a social accountability initiative designed and instituted by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP), and uses a blended approach through on-the-ground mobilization effort and community monitoring, tapping modern technology as a key tool. The CMS project is supported by the Open Society Institute and the World Bank Institute.
  • Open Education Challenge is an EU funded initiative to support projects who receive mentoring and seed funding through the European Incubator for Innovation in Education. Their ten finalists present different approaches to the use of open data in education.
  • Using open data relating to the UK education system. As part of the Open Data Challenge Education, the Open Data Institute has compiled a set of interesting resources, including a list of potentially interesting datasets.