Ketty's story: Evolving through data expeditions

In 2013, Ketty Adoch became a Fellow for the School of Data. Ketty, who is based in Kampala, Uganda, is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist and has a background in mapping. She first came across Open Knowledge International in early 2013, when she saw a twitter post on an upcoming online data expedition (School of Data’s MOOC) on global carbon emissions. Passionate about the environment and feeling the need to expand her skill set, Ketty signed up for the course. She found the data expedition to be very useful.


“What I liked about it is that it involved skill sharing among the participants. I shared my data and mapping skills and learnt other skills from my group. I enjoyed it so much that after that I attended three School of Data data expeditions in a row!”

Ketty Adoch, School of Data Fellow

Inspired, Ketty signed up to be a community fellow for the School of Data, and since then has been involved as a facilitator in many online and offline data expeditions and training sessions around the world. Ketty feels that these sessions have been very successful and through them a lot of interest has been generated about open data and data journalism.

“For most of my sessions I have shared my knowledge on mapping. What feels rewarding is that afterwards people ask questions about what I shared during the session, and they want to understand more about it. People show genuine interest and these sessions do create an impact within the communities,”

Ketty Adoch, School of Data Fellow

The sessions have also been a good learning opportunity for Ketty herself. She also points out that they provide an excellent networking platform for people who want to work in the field of open data.

“You learn a lot of new skills and tools, that's one thing. Two - you get to network, and know where to get help from when you need it. For example, I can now ask for help from some of the other fellows or trainers, that I met at these sessions, who are proficient in a certain field that I am not so good at,”

Ketty Adoch, School of Data Fellow

Following the data expeditions, Ketty has been working in collaboration with others on a new national data portal, www.data.ug, which runs using Open Knowledge International’s CKAN, and was launched on the 2014 Open Data Day in Uganda. Using the skills she has acquired she is now focusing on the cleaning, analysing and visualising some of the datasets to be hosted on the site. She also hopes that through the regular meetings that have been planned this year, they will be able to to teach more data skills, present the available data better, and get the larger community in Uganda involved.


School of Data’s MOOC: Impacting data journalism in Russia

Like Ketty, Irina Radchenko and Anna Sakoyan participated in the 4 week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), also known as Data Explorer Mission, held by School of Data in early 2013. Irina is a consultant on open data and an Associate Professor at Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Anna is working as a data journalist for both Russian analytical publication, Polit.ru, and Infoculture, a Moscow based not-for-profit organisation aiming to establish and promote the open data and open government concepts in Russia.


“Before this, I had had no experience with data processing whatsoever. It was completely new to me, as well as fascinating.  I knew about the open data and open access movements, and I had even written about data driven journalism, but I knew very little of how it is done technically. Last spring, I read Open Knowledge International’s Data Journalism Handbook and decided that I would like to learn something more practical. I must say that using the MOOC course as a starting platform was the right choice, and a great introduction to online learning and the sharing of knowledge.”

Anna Sakoyan

Both Anna and Irina found the course to be extremely beneficial to their work. Apart from the skills and tools they learnt, they both stressed the importance of the peer learning approach of MOOC, and the opportunity they got through the course to meet people around the world working in the field of open data.

“First, thanks to it, I gained some data processing experience. I also had a chance to measure my knowledge and figure out in what direction I should build my further learning path. Second, I got my first glimpse of what peer learning is about and how it works. Last, but definitely not least, I got to know wonderful people from all over the world - like Ketty -  with whom I still keep in touch and work on other projects,”

Anna Sakoyan

Irina explained that the School of Data’s data expeditions have inspired their recent projects. After participating in the MOOC, Irina and Anna collaboratively organised open data educational projects both offline and online. They also launched a volunteer based Russian language data journalism project, DataDrivenJournalism.ru, under which they have run several data expeditions in Russian over the last year.


“Here in Russia we had no educational resources in Data Journalism and Open Data before we had launched our educational projects, and there definitely were no similar projects in Russian yet. The main features we used for the Russian data expeditions - like collaborative work - were inherited from the School of Data’s data expeditions. Data expeditions are highly powerful instruments for teaching, researching and for collaborative work with open data. Also, they often provide opportunities to establish connections with people of similar interests,”

Irina Radchenko

In the last year, Irina and Anna have both been in close contact with Open Knowledge International and its activities in Russia. Soon after MOOC, Anna participated in one of School of Data's online expeditions, and later in October 2013, she helped in preparing another online data expedition.  

At the time of interview, Irina and Anna were starting to work with some of the other participants of the School of Data’s data expeditions on a collaborative international project aimed at presenting lists of recommended national informational resources. They were also working on completing the third data expedition launched by Datadrivenjournalism.ru in Russian. The expedition was focused on orphan diseases, and organised in a partnership with another non profit, Teplitsa of Social Technologies, who helped them connect with experts in the fields of rare diseases. Irina pointed out that this was the first time that the combination of peer-learning and research were used in Russia for a project of this scale.