Knowledge against inequality

A paper of Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) shows how Open Data uses can lead to a improvement facing social crisis.

According to the World Bank, despite numerous efforts children with a migrant and refugee background are increasingly facing a low prospect of accessing adequate education. The provision of quality education for migrant children not only depends upon institutional factors such as school quality or support, but also on attention to culturally responsive pedagogies and openness to diversity. And additional factor of importance is educators’ inability to provide quality teaching when dealing with students from a different socio-economic and demographic background.

The paper “Critical pedagogy and open data for educating towards social cohesion”, published in Italian Journal of Educational Technology, shows how a critical pedagogy approach could be used for developing educational activities based on the use of Open Data (data that is universally available for anyone, without boundaries or restrictions) from real world scenarios, both to nurture social cohesion and to educate towards complexity and uncertainty. Critical pedagogies refer to educational experiences which promote transformation and empowerment, and that expose the power dynamics perpetuating social injustice. The critical pedagogy movement is guided by the intent of nurturing students’ ability to recognise and challenge these dynamics, enabling them to become engaged citizens while expanding and deepening their participation in the promise of a susbstantive democracy.


Los Datos Abiertos pueden ayudar a visibilizar información hasta ahora mantenida en segundo plano para ayudar a la transformación social./ CC0 Photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash
Open Data can be understood as OERs, which can be employed to engage learners in collaborative activities aimed at critically analysing contemporary real-world problemas./ CC0 Photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash


The authors of the paper, Fabio Nascimbeni, from Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) and Annalisa Manca, Javiera Atenas and Chiara Ciociola, envisage how Open Data can help to make visible information about socio-cultural and power dynamics. The authors analyze what pedagogical approaches could be adopted in techonoly-enhanced interventions dealing with teaching and learning for migrant learners, their teachers and the school community, and what roles could Open Data play in the related teaching and learning process.

The wave of openness that is expanding and touching all sectors in society is also influencing formal and informal education at all levels. Open Education represents an aim and a challenge for society as a whole, as witnessed by the increasing interest in Open Educational Resources (OERs), term coined by UNESCO on the occasion of the First Global OER Forum in 2012. It follows that in educational contexts Open Data can be understood as OERs, which can be employed to engage learners in collaborative activities aimed at critically analysing contemporary real-world problems.


Colaborative experiences

This is not just a hypothesis: it is currently being implemented in various Italian secondary school trhough an iniciative called A Scuola di OpenCoesione. The main objectives of this project are to engage participating schools in active use of Open Data to develop civic awareness and engagement with local communities by monitoring the effectiveness of public investment. Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR) is developing the project Open Educators Factory (OEF), directed by Fabio Nascimbeni and Daniel Burgos, director of the Research Institute for Innovation & Technology in Education (UNIR iTED). The OEF patform allows university educators to self-assess their capacity and level of development in terms of Open Education and provides some guidelines to further adopt openness in all dimensions of their activities.

As general realisation grows about the multiple affordances of OD, so do the ways in which these are being explored and harnessed. Open Data represent vital information that can lead to knowledge for society as a whole; this is the basis for empowerment and for tackling challenges such as inequality and poverty.

El siglo XXI ha venido marcado por la tecnología y los avances que ésta nos ha permitido en todos los ámbitos. A medida que la sociedad se conciencia del potencial de los Datos Abiertos, más se investiga con respecto a sus posibilidades. “La Investigación Abierta representa conocimiento que puede llegar a toda la sociedad: esta es la base del empoderamiento y el inicio para abordar retos como la desigualdad y la pobreza”, señala Nascimbeni.


Manca, A., Atenas, J., Ciociola, C., & Nascimbeni, F. (2017). Critical pedagogy and open data for educating towards social cohesion. Italian Journal of Educational Technology, 25 (1), 111-115. Doi: 10.17471/2499-4324/917


November, 17th.- Eva Ferreras