We took the open data party to the Southwest of Nigeria with the goal of building a data literate community in Nigeria. School of Data collaborated with the Nigeria Open data Access (NODA) team of the University of Technology Akure, to host the first open data event in that region.
It was a 7 hours awareness and skill share session. Similarly to our previous event, the participants had little or no knowledge of open data. one of the participant said:
I only just saw the post about the open data party and came out of curiosity to know what it is all about
Their interest was in knowing what open data is and how they can apply it to their work as a business or in advocacy. Some misconceptions had first to be cleared, as some of the participants thought of open data as a tool, a specific project or even a software. So, how do you explain open data to a group of 30 where no one knows exactly what is it?
We split the event into two sessions : one was about awareness while the other was focused on skillsharing. The awareness session featured talks about open data, its relevance and case studies. We took a practical example of a participant who is currently working on a project to automate course attendance in her school. She said afterwards –
I now have a better perspective and will work towards automating and opening attendance data. Students will be able to access it for monitoring their performance.
We introduced them to our data Pipeline and gave them success stories. For those without projects, we succeeded in spurring them to research their options as they appreciated the leverage they could get using open data.
In the skillsharing session, participants were more interested in learning how to visualize the plenty of rows and columns they had stacked up in folders. Sessions in visualization, storytelling, advocacy and even fund raising for NGOs, were held concurrently.
Participants were really excited to meet new tools like Tableau, CartoDB, E-draw and even Excel. Links to resources that could make their work easier were also highlighted. We were worried about the receptiveness of the participants but were eventually amazed by their engagement and the innovative concepts about data harnessing they came up with for their various fields.
Strengthening the community.
Rounding up, we had a Google Student Ambassador from the University of Technology of Akure explain to the participants how to use the Google Drive collaboration tools. They learnt basic –intermediate skills of working with Google docs. So great! We now have a working group in the South-West of Nigeria with the NODA team to continue keeping the community vibrant.