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  • This blog is written by specialists from the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to provide arguments and ideas that will spark debate about how to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This blog is a call to action for the reader. An idea, a project, or a question can make a difference.

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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    6 open knowledge initiatives that are improving education

    By - 30 Jun 2016

    by Antonio Moneo
    Knowledge and Learning Sector, IDB


    Bringing down physical barriers. Getting rid of requirements and extra paperwork. Allowing easy access to all the information we generate. These are the pillars of the open knowledge movement, a trend that is rapidly gaining momentum and that soon will become an important engine for the economy of many nations.

    Information plays a key role in education, and therefore it is no surprise that the latter has a lot to gain from the increase in free access to knowledge sources. In the United States alone, the open knowledge movement could bring almost 1 billion dollars to the education sector.

    Taking this into account, we show you 6 projects that showcase the huge potential that open knowledge platforms can have in addressing complex problems in education:

    • CIMA

    CIMA (an acronym derived from the platform’s Spanish name, Centro de Información para la Mejora de los Aprendizajes) is the Inter-American Development Bank’s Education Statistics Portal. This innovative platform contains information on 40 indicators, all of which are comparable across educational systems in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as country-specific profiles that summarize the state of education in each nation. CIMA seeks to promote the design and implementation of effective, evidence-based education policies that can improve the quality of learning in the region.

    • Open Text Book

    Open Text Book is an initiative started in the United States that advocates for free access to textbook materials through the flexible Creative Commons license. This movement started taking shape in 2010 and its impact has been seen on American college campuses: studies report that, in some cases, students have managed to save up to 80% in textbook costs.

    • Open Data Portal – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

    UNAM’s Open Data Portal is proof of the potential of open knowledge to create pedagogical tools. For instance, information on the more than 1 million animal and plant species identified by the university worldwide is available for browsing for students, researchers, and the general public.

    • The Chilean case: Designing education policy through big data analysis techniques

    In Chile, a project from the Center of Advanced Research in Education was declared a winner in the IDB’s Gobernarte, which recognized projects that exploited the potential that data can have to support public policy making. The project analyzed population census and enrollment data to understand how students traveled to school. It found that there were clear disbalances in the educational offer and that, oftentimes, underprivileged students had to cover longer distances to get to school. It also found that often their trajectory included transiting through high-crime areas, allowing to predict and prevent social phenomena such as school drop-out.  

    • Mexico’s Mejora tu escuela platform

    This successful platform allows citizens to access information about the performance of schools in the country. Through a data analysis method that employs aggregate results from students in Math and Spanish, the platform is able to generate a performance index per school. Results are then translated into a color code — similar to that of a traffic light — that allows schools to be compared. The project generates information that is relevant for parents but also for policy makers, who are able to identify schools in need of additional support. This application also allows users to browse through the specificities of public programs developed to improve education.  

    • Open Badges

    This initiative was created by the Mozilla Foundation to create a more precise categorization of professional skills through a system of digital certificates that are easy to access and reuse. In the education sector, these certificates have been used to recognize the efforts of innovative teachers and educators and to ease students’ transition from university to the labor market.

    These are just a sample of the many successful initiatives. Do you know any project that employs open data to improve education? Share it with us via Twitter, just mention our name: @BIDEducacion

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