Monthly Archives: June 2012

Notes from the Education Seminars #5: How could we learn from each other and collaborate around the topics of education*?

Auli Toom, Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences in the University of Helsinki blogs about the importance of collaboration in education

The discussion around the topics related to (Finnish) education and schooling seems to be lively, although it has started several years ago after the first PISA results. We have already got used to the thousands of questions that researchers, policy-makers, journalists and other visitors have in their mind when they come to our educational policy institutions, teacher education departments at universities as well as our local schools. We have many relevant and definite answers to the presented questions, but we also have areas that we don’t know anything about – yet. We also have some serious signals, like teachers’ and pupils’ well-being, emotional load and stress related to school work, that should be taken into account immediately.

Based on these conversations and thoughts, I have started to consider how we as researchers and professionals of education could learn from each other effectively and collaborate more innovatively, rather than only compare each other. How could we take a step further from mere comparison and start to work towards shared aims and aspirations? I have also thought what should be done now in order to guarantee the best possible basic education and teacher education also in the future. Future learning environments, teaching and learning methods, instructional tools and equipments as well as professional practices should be created during the next coming days. The efforts from policy makers, educational researchers, teachers as practitioners as well as pupils and parents are truly needed.

I’d like to share some thoughts and topics that could be valuable on all levels mentioned previously as well as a way towards the education and schooling of the future.

Trust between each other and in education

Trust between individuals and groups, is required to provide the basis for social order, and it is a foundation of solidarity and integration within societies. It facilitates stability, co-operation and cohesion and it is the basic premise upon which different approaches to educational policy and educational practice can rest. Trust is of prime importance in education: it ensures that participating individuals at every level of the educational system can be allowed greater freedom and be expected greater autonomy. I consider especially important trust relations between persons (administrators, teachers, students, parents) in all levels of schooling. These experiences of trust (and distrust) in daily schoolwork have deep and lasting impact on individuals and their communities.

Hope for a better society and life

Hope refers to a desire for positive futures that are considered possible, but not guaranteed. The term consists of understandings of future-oriented thought, feeling, and action. It is “an element of human nature, way of knowing, form of action or behavior, [and] learned orientation to the future”. As Inglis states, “a society’s education entails (in all senses) its future”. Hope is premised on the idea that human beings are capable of shaping the forces that structure their lives. In educational literature these themes connecting education and hope are echoed by many authors. These idealistic tones relate closely to education’s tasks and ability to promote social hope in societies.

The language of hope is a powerful tool to move teachers and students in their educational settings. Teaching as teacher’s primary work can also be seen both as a practice and as a “discipline of hope”. Conceptualizing education as a resource of hope gives us an insight to the power it can have for people in general, and people in educational institutions in particular: the hope that education can promise brighter individual and societal futures. Uncovering this idea allows us to better recognize how hope works to orient people’s social action – in this case, shaping the character of educational practices and its’ outcomes.

These themes are enormous and they really demand collective responsibility and continuous negotiations between everyone – but so are the matters of education as well. I think that they are Big Issues, important for us all – and worth the collaboration.

Auli Toom, PhD, Adjunct Professor
Faculty of Behavioural Sciences
University of Helsinki, Finland

* Toom, A. & Husu, J. (2012). Finnish teachers as ‘makers of the many’: Balancing between broad pedagogical freedom and responsibility. In H. Niemi, A. Toom & A. Kallioniemi (Eds.), Miracle of Education: The principles and practices of teaching and learning in Finnish schools (pp. 39-54). Rotterdam/Boston/Taipei: Sense Publishers.

Open Data Monthly Review 05/2012

A review of latest news and blog posts in the field of open data. 


Open Data Powers New Citizen Engagement Strategies
Code for America recently launched Engagement Commons to bring together information and solutions from across the country on innovative new strategies for government engagement with citizens. The landscape of tools and strategies for engaging citizens is changing rapidly, as more and more governments implement new ways for citizens to make their voices heard in the governance process.

Open source enables high-volume searches
Computerworld – Twitter, Facebook, the Library of Congress — all of these institutions have mind-numbing amounts of structured and unstructured data that must be indexed and searched quickly. In Twitter’s case, that’s about 300 million new pieces of information to index every day.

Why the “Open Data Movement” is a Joke
A government can simultaneously be the most secretive, controlling Canadian government in recent memory and be welcomed into the club of “open government”. The announcements highlight a few problems with the “open data movement”

What Does It Take to Make Open Data Really Open?
While I was thinking about this post, I have seen Tom Slee’s one titled “Why the Open Data Movement is a Joke”, which has raised some discussion and understandable outrage in the open government circles.

Open data bridging hard-to-reach gap
Open data is an internet thing. It’s all about building more and better apps to deliver digital public services. So what use is open data for people who aren’t online?

Open Data for (Big) Kids?
This afternoon Emma Mulqueeny asked on twitter if anyone had any ideas about fun, exciting datasets to inspire kids new to Open Data hacking. I asked whether she was interested in downloadable datasets or just APIs, or both. The answer was both. 

U.K. Leads Europe on Open Data says Web Founder
The U.K. is leading Europe in opening up government data, and the opening of an Open Data Institute [ODI] will cement that lead, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, president of the Institute said Tuesday.

Best bits: Open data for charities
We round up our experts’ advice on how open data could help your charity and the voluntary sector more widely. 

Open Data, Open Standards, and Community Activism
Over at the United State Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) blog there was a great piece posted a few days ago, “Using the Toxic Release Inventory to Build Power in Communities.


Open Data and The New Divide
Over the last four years open government and open data have been at the forefront of the debate on how governments can become more transparent, participative and efficient. The theory is well known: rather than (or alongside) providing the government’s interpretation or packaging of public data, this data should be made available in raw, open format for people to build their own views and applications.

Open Data and Mapping for Disasters and Development
“Openness is critical for inclusive development and a thriving civil society”
The above words from Suzanne Kindervatter of InterAction underscored the theme running through a unique gathering at World Bank headquarters in Washington on May 3, 2012.  

Unleash the power of open financial data – join the Development Data Challenge!

The World Bank wants a “world free of poverty.” Facebook wants a world that’s more “open and connected.” Can we help realize both these dreams with open financial data? With ever more open data on the finances and activities of development organizations and governments available (and with much of that data becoming available in standard formats like IATI), how do we go beyond transparency and get to development impact?

Get started with research data management using open source applications
Researchers generate ever-increasing amounts of data when performing their research and they need to find new ways of managing this data properly. This process is accelerated by the research councils and other funders in the UK, who are increasingly requiring bids to indicate how they will manage the data that is part of the research that is to be funded.

Open data: solutions for problems
t’s been a while since I blogged about open data, but there’s been lots going on. I was very excited to take part in a Guardian Voluntary Sector network Q&A this afternoon, with lots of really interesting people on the panel.

Mapitude: Open Data, Open Platforms, Open Communities?

I was fortunate to be invited to give a talk at Mapitude. Unsurprisingly I spoke about community mapping, spatial data infrastructures in developing nations and Taarifa. I also touched upon open data and how services and platforms using open data need to be developed. I think that open data is great – for more info watch this TED talk by Tim Berners-Lee – however I believe open data is only the beginning not the end point of data development.

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