Open Cities Summit (II). City leaders panel: local issues and open data solutions, lessons learned, and setting short and long terms priorities

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

City leaders panel: local issues and open data solutions, lessons learned, and setting short and long terms priorities
Moderator: Alex Howard, Sunlight Foundation, What Works Cities initiative

Juan Prada, City of Montevideo (Uruguay)

The main reason to open data is the belief that data belongs to the citizen, not to agencies. Why should the citizen be charged for the use of their own data?

In 2008 the government began its open data strategy. After an initial publication of data, the government focused on enabling the creation of open data based services developed by the citizens, such as the adaptation of Fix My Street for Montevideo.

The service behind the open data initiative acts as thus, as a service, and so has a help-desk and an analysis unit to monitor usage and make proposals of new data sets to be published, etc.

Víctor Morlán, City of Zaragoza (Spain)

Same belief as Uruguay: access to data and public information is a basic right for citizens.

Now, all services that the City Council website creates use open data as a main source. Thus, there is no need to maintain different databases and services: open data becomes useful for the City Council itself.

Privacy is dealt with in the open data initiative, and everything that is published has gone through a thorough process of compliance with the law.

Stephane Contre, City of Edmonton (Canada)

After a first deployment, the big effort now has been publishing a “data analytics website” so that people that are neither tech-savvy or data-savvy can query the data themselves.

One of the big impact has been the internal use of open data. Using specific algorithms you can use open data to improve municipal services.

4th International Data Conference (2016)

Open Cities Summit (I). Keynote: Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer, New York City

Notes from the Open Cities Summit, part of the International Open Data Conference 2016, and held in Madrid, Spain, on 5 October 2016. More notes on this event: opencitiessummit and iodc16.

Keynote: Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer, New York City

After several milestones on open data and open governmetn, in 2015 New York City released its Open Data For All programme. Its aim, to actually increase the use and reuse of open data by all citizens, not just a bunch of them. Open data has to be available for all, meaning that data should be able to be used by anyone, anywhere and anytime.

Start with users

NYC made some research on who the users were and how did they use data.

Human-centered design was applied to improve the portal, and think on the portal not as a repository, but as a service.

In partnership with New York University, the portal made that you —as an individual, as a community— you could find yourself in the data, you have to feel that you are represented there. If a policy is implemented and you are not there, the policy will not affect you. So, main issues/problems/needs were identified and the date was put into motion to illustrate or lay the foundations of these issues and the policies to address them.

For instance, an Open Data Powerty model was designed using data on community concerns, infrastructures, representation, demographics, etc.

Encourage purposeful engagement

e.g. Organise hackathons and other ways of constructive engagement that has a meaning not for the city, but for the individual citizen too.

Empower agencies

Agencies have many missions and goals, and opening data usually is not one of them. Thus, they will not dedicate a part of the budget to it, no matter how insistent you are on that. So, how do we bring agencies to open up data? And make it meaningful to them?

First thing is to address standards. Try and have agencies applying standards in their data management, so that they can be reused elsewhere, or that they can “talk” to other data sets. This will sooner or later create synergies and help agencies not to open data but to achieve their own goals, which is what they really care about.

Treat publishing as the middle of opening data

When you get data from an agency, most of it does not make sense to you, out of the agency’s context. So you partner with them and try to understand their data so that you can bring them to light. For the agency, publishing data is the end; for you, publishing data is just the middle, as there is a lot of work to be done still.

Integrate Open Data into citywide processes

Case: The NYPD Was Systematically Ticketing Legally Parked Cars for Millions of Dollars a Year — Open Data Just Put an End to It. If citizens can have access to open data, they can help improve the city in many ways. So, it is not only about “data journalism” and publishing news, etc. but also about engaging in citizen processes.

You have to work to change the complexion of the community. You have to work to empower people to believe that they can make a change, that they can participate, that they can help to improve the city.

Learn, test, standardize — and learn again

Reflect about the whole process and improve it.

4th International Data Conference (2016)

eLearning Africa 2016 (VII). Back up for Online Tutors and Mentors

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Back up for Online Tutors and Mentors

Chairperson: Robert Kisalama, Belgian Technical Cooperation, Uganda

Ismael Peña-López, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain
eSupervision: A Four-tier Applied Model


eLearning Africa (2016)

eLearning Africa 2016 (VI). Creating Communities of Practice for Teachers

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Creating Communities of Practice for Teachers

Would you like to hear about the methods and tools to enhance teachers’ pedagogical skills? Learn how communities of practice, by and for teachers, can influence professional development.

Chairperson: Mohamed Ahmed, Mansoura University, Egypt

Hela Nafti, Tunisian Education and Resource Network TEARN, Tunisia
Achieving Peace by Building Sustainable Global Online Learning Communities

SDG Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Learners have to acquire skills and, most especially, attitudes and values — because information is everywhere.

iEARN: 130 countries, 30 languages, 40,000 educators, 2 million youth. iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is the world’s largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Learning Circles promote theme-based project work integrated with the classroom curriculum. Working with Learning Circle partners from around the world help students develop important interpersonal skills. Learning Circles also encourage interactions among teachers providing a very different model of professional development.

A Learning Circle is created by a team of 6-8 teachers and their classes joined in the virtual space of an electronic classroom. The groups remains together over a 3-4 month period working on projects drawn from the curriculum of each of the classrooms organized around a selected theme. At the end of the term the group collects and publishes its work. Then, just as any class of students does, the Learning Circle comes to an end. Each session begins with new groupings of classes into Learning Circles.

Created a Tunisian circle to deal about peace and sustainable development.

Capacity building, teacher training is the most relevant thing for teachers: you can not teach if you do not know how to.

Paul Waibochi, CEMASTEA, Kenya,
Using Social Media (Whatsapp) in Enhancing Teacher Pedagogical Competencies: Case Study Cemastea – Lesson Study Model

How can we improve teachers’ competences in how to deliver the curriculum through m-learning: how to use Whatsapp for education and learning purposes.

In infrastructure matters, Kenya is ready: 80% mobile uptake, high bandwidth per person, familiarity with mobile services (e.g. m-pesa), etc.

Process of teachers working in teams to develop lessons to adress an identified problem amongst learners. The developed lesson is taught by one of the teachers while others observe. The team discusses the taught lesson and make improvements.

The purpose of m-learning is more access (you save travelling of both students and teachers), more efficiency and quality. Now lessons are not only face-to-face, so they are not so much time-constrained, and happen instead on a blended-learning basis.

Another good thing about Whatsapp is that it supports multimedia: the teacher can teach and videotape the lesson and then share it through Whatsapp where other teachers can observe and comment.

Finally, the idea is to create a community of teachers that engage in the project, help each other, share their outputs. In parallel to that, the teachers acquire or strengthen 21st century skills, like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, etc. in addition to constant professional development and regular orientation and training.


Q: How do we select the teachers? Waibochi: they come from the same grade, and from the same topic to be taught at a particular class.

Q: how do you eliminate “noise” from Whatsapp groups? Waibochi: it is about defining well what is going to be the topics of conversation, and stick with them.

Q: how do you measure the expected outcomes in the communities of practice? How do you evaluate results? Waibochi: there are screening surveys that are used to evaluate what the students knew before and after the intervention.

Q: Why not your own chatting platform? Waibochi: not only Whatsapp, but also Facebook accounts. The technology is already there and everybody is using it.

eLearning Africa (2016)

eLearning Africa 2016 (V). Entrepreneurialism, Capacity Development and the Role of Education in Accelerating Change

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Plenary: Entrepreneurialism, Capacity Development and the Role of Education in Accelerating Change

Economic growth and technological innovations are beginning to change Africa but how can the transformation be made permanent? How can the pace of change be quickened? How can we ensure that Africa is not just transformed but able to compete in tomorrow’s markets? How can we encourage a new spirit of entrepreneurialism? How can we boost capacity development, to ensure that Africans are ready to seize new opportunities in the future? How can we empower African educators and give them the tools they need to teach new skills? How can we enable students to make the most of a new world of learning? How can we put education and training at the heart of Africa’s transformation? These are just some of the questions which our panel of experts will address.

Chairperson: Hossam El Gamal, Chairman of the Information and Decision Support Centre (IDSC), Egypt

Dr Tarek Shawki, Secretary General of Presidential Specialised Councils, Egypt,
Keynote Address

Education in our lifetime requires great innovation and collaboration. We need to understand what is required from the ecosystem.

What is the relationship between the economy and education? We have to make this issue surface and take over the public debate. And the the social justice that should come with education.

It is likely that the assessment system is quite guilty for this dissociation between education and the economy, between earning a diploma and learning.

People lack autonomy because the system is ruled with a totalitarian approach. This lack of freedom implies that some decisions are left unmade.

A new project by the Egyptian government, the Egyptian knowledge bank, has been buying a massive amount of digital content (scientific, educational, etc.) from major publishers and put it online for free (for Egyptian IPs). But not only that, new textbooks are pointing at these resources, so that the content of the textbooks is enhanced by the one online.

The project is framed within a macro strategy to redesign Egyptian Education as an Education 2.0.

Prof Moses Oketch, Professor of International Education Policy and Development at UCL, UK
Perspectives on ICT, Lifelong Learning and Endogenous Development in Africa

Besides moneraty benefits of human capital, there are non-monetary benefits, like better health, etc. And, in addition to that, there is non-monetary social benefits (vs. individual benefits). It is time to put these concepts in the forefront of the public debate.

And technology has become crucial in the human capital formation. And not only human capital, but endogenous development. And this is crucial for sustainable development, while also reducing diminishing returns of investment.

Last, technology is changing the very concept of lifelong learning: you are actually learning all the time.

Four key connections:

  • Identify and support incentives for ICT and lifelong learning.
  • Overcome barriers arising from investment externalities.
  • Encourage and support endogenous technology/applications that are locally relevant and scale them up.
  • Enhance ICT inclusivity in learning and teaching to overcome structural inequalities and skills deficit.

Dr Rania Reda, Founder & CEO of ITQAN for Smart Solutions, Egypt
We Can Dream Bigger Now

To transform education we have to take into account all education stakeholders: students, educators, parents, administrators, etc. And entrepreneurs come and try and fill the gaps that these stakeholders might have to unleash their full potential, to optimize performance. Assessing the stakeholders’ needs is the first step for transforming education.

Augmented reality can certainly help to improve education. By projecting things that do not exist into real life, learning can be much more engaging, a requisite for real learning. Visualization, quite often, helps to understand complex concepts, eases the assimilation of content.

How to use augmented reality in schools: help with homework (e.g. a video is displayed when a page of homework is scanned), book reviews (e.g. the student can annotate a book and anyone can read/hear/see it), parent virtual inspiration (e.g. record parent encouraging their child), yearbooks (e.g. bring photos back to life), word walls, lab safety, deaf and hard of hearing flashcards.


Oketch: how do we measure the impact of technology in matters of learning outcomes? We have to begin to measure learning in different ways as we do now. We haven’t figured out yet how to do it, and it will certainly be the next frontier.

Rania Reda: besides infrastructure — which is crucial — mentoring is very important: many times one knows what to do, but does not exactly how. And here is where coaching an entrepreneur can lead to very good results.

In a very near future, learners will be much more learner-centered in their learning. When information is abundant, one begins to learn how to access and manage information, and to use it for learning.

eLearning Africa (2016)

eLearning Africa 2016 (IV). Researching Learner Centred Methods

Notes from eLearning Africa 2016, organized by ICWE GmbH and held in El Cairo, Egypt, on 24-26 May 2016. More notes on this event: ela2016.

Researching Learner Centred Methods

If you manage to engage and encourage students to take an active role in their learning, you will find that creating education together is possible. Speakers in this session share their experiences in co-creation.

Chairperson: Francisca Oladipo, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria

Paxton Zozie, Mzuzu University, Malawi, Using Real-time Response Systems to Enhance Participative Learning in Higher Education at Mzuzu University

How to encourage active participation of each and every student, especially in large classes. And even more, how to enhance collaborative learning and active learning.

Cloud-based student response systems will be used to address the issue, based on clicker technology, like Participoll or Socrative.

Polls do make students more engaged in the lecture, and they prompt interactivity between the student and the teacher, as the teacher can see in real time whether students got something right or not, and can ask for questions, doubts, etc. but tailored depending on the return of the poll.

Challenges: need for Internet connectivity. Notwithstanding, some software can be used on a local network, with no need to be connected to the Internet but only to the computer acting as a server.

Another challenge is that sometimes less content is covered, as more time is devoted to participation.

Students would like to have more detailed feedback for student self-assessment.

Abdul-Majid Nkuutu Kibedi, Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports, Uganda, Exploration of the Linkage Between ICT Use and Implementation of Learner-centered Pedagogy

General goal: to contribute to the increase of quality and equity in access to post-primary education and training, by providing an improved teaching and practice-oriented learning environment, supported by strengthened active-teaching methods.

It is a teaching training education project, with a multi-layered approach:

  • Infrastructure: laptops, projectors, connectivity, etc.
  • Aggregation of digital tools and links to resources for teaching and assessment.
  • Teacher for self reflection and better research, conference, training tailored to integration of ICT in the teaching and learning.

Some college staff members received a short video training course on shooting and editing video, with low cost equipment. A secondary goal is to tape one-self and see how one is teaching, in part to fight the isolation from peer support where teaching often occurs.

On the other hand, videos allow the observation of alternative teaching strategies, allowing time for reflection, as one does not have to respond immediately.

Access to offline Wikipedia and digital books was used to increase the available content.

Also research from Internet through mobile phone helped the group to engage in discussions and brainstorming sessions.

With active teaching and learning methods (ATL), learners develop some of the critical 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration or creative thinking.

Teachers who often use ICTs tend to implement ATL methodologies in their teaching and, on the other hand, ICTs easily support adoption of ATL by students.


Q: can you assess the students through response systems? Zozie: yes, you can. If you force them to log in with their users before answering, all data is stored including who answered what. Then data can be downloaded and treated for any purpose, such as assessment.

Zozie: the teaching staff needs experience in stating questions, relevant questions. Formulating questions is not easy, especially higher order questions, such as the ones that address concepts and not just the factual.

eLearning Africa (2016)