Open Education Handbook/Open data for education: LinkedUp Challenge

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The LinkedUp Project organised the LinkedUp Challenge: three consecutive competitions looking for interesting and innovative tools and applications that analyse and/or integrate open web data for educational purposes. Here are some of the highlights from the shortlists.

LinkedUp Veni Shortlisted Entries - use cases[edit]

There were 8 shortlised entries in the LinkedUp Veni competition. They offer real-world examples of how linked and open data can be used in an educational way. Three of the shortlisted demos and tools show how linked data from various resources allows learners to explore resources, concepts, ideas and objects in various areas.

  • Knownodes is a collaborative websites that enables relating, defining and exploring connections between web resources and ideas, making use of graph visualizations. Knownodes scored high on educational innovation.
  • Mismuseos connects museum data with sources including Europeana, Dbpedia and Geonames. With Mismuseos, learners can browse and explore the backgrounds and relations between objects from multiple Spanish museums.
  • ReCredible is a browsable topic map with wikipedia-like content next to it. The topic library showcases interesting topics varying from dog breeds and alternative medicine to nanotechnology and information systems.

Another focus, which can be seen in the next three shortlisted candidates, is how open and linked data can be used for enriching resources, making it easier to share and find them, and how to personalize the way they are presented.

  • DataConf is a mobile mashup that enriches conference publications. The reviewers applauded its nice and effective design. DataConf is especially useful at the graduate education level.
  • We-Share is a social annotation application for educational ICT tools. We-Share can help educators to find tools to support teaching at all educational levels, and received high scores on educational innovation.
  • YourHistory is a Facebook app that makes history tangible by showing historic and global events that are related to your own life events and your interests.

Last but not least, the next two applications are less generic than the previous ones, but both of them are great examples on how effective use of linked data can help to learn about and make sense of the world we live in.

  • Globe-Town is a ‘fun to use’ tool that lets users find out the most important trade partners, migrant populations and airline routes of their own countries. It also provides infographics on issues regarding society, environment and economy.
  • Polimedia connects transcripts of the Dutch parliament with media coverage in newspapers and radio bulletins. Polimedia employs innovative information techniques and provides an attractive front-end that invites exploration and browsing.

LinkedUp Vidi Shortlisted Entries - use cases[edit]

In the LinkedUp Vidi Competition we asked for tools and demos that analyse or integrate open web data for educational purposes. We received fourteen submissions with innovative ideas in areas such as agriculture, arts and medicine.

Apart from innovative aspects, attractiveness, usefulness and other forms of ‘awesomeness’, our evaluation panel also looked at the relevance for education, the usability and performance of the tools, the data it uses or provides, and the way privacy and other legal aspects were dealt with.

It was not an easy task to select the nine submissions for the shortlist, and not all of the panelists’ personal favorite submissions are included. What we do all agree upon is that the following demos and tools are really outstanding examples on how to use open data for education.

Open track submissions[edit]

The open track received seven submissions that all aim to make it easier to find or explore data. Some tools even allow you to connect data.

Two submissions seem to provide just a simple search box, but there is far more behind it.

  • AGRIS links bibliographic references from the agricultural domain to external datasets, among others DBPedia, World Bank and nature.com. For end-users – researchers, scientists, cataloguers – it is simply a single point of access to these resources. AGRIS also provides a Sparql endpoint. Read more about AGRIS
  • Solvonauts is an open educational search engine, which searches over 1,500 open educational resource end points. All resources are licensed Creative Commons or Public Domain. They also have plugins for Moodle and WordPress. Read more about Solvonauts

The following tools have been made for connecting things and people with one another.

  • Rhizi is the revamped version of KnowNodes, which was submitted to our Veni competition. Rhizi allows users to make connections between things, such as blogs, research data, video segments and people. The site is interactive, with chat, commenting, notifications, voting and a reputation system. Read more about Rhizi
  • Konnektid is all about connecting people for educational purposes. When you want to learn something you can ask the people nearby to help you. If you allow the system to do so, it creates your personal profile based on data from Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Linkedin. Read more about Konnektid
  • LOD Stories lets you connect artworks, artists and places into a chain that functions as a storyboard.

The cool thing is that you can actually transform the storyboard into a narrated video. In order to get this done, LOD Stories exploits DBPedia. Read more about LOD Stories

Finally, the next two tools help you to make sense of data with various visualizations.

  • DBLPXplorer is a browsing and exploration interface for the DBLP computer science bibliography, which provides insight in research published at conferences. The attractive visualizations are made with D3 and based on DBLP data, annotated using WikipediaMiner. They also expose the DBLP data via a Sparql endpoint. Read more about DBLPXplorer
  • TuVaLabs has a growing number of interesting datasets on various topics, including drought in California, AIDS and Barbie. Students and teachers can explore and visualize these datasets and teachers can create activities or assignments around them, to stimulate them to think critically about data. Read more about Tuvalabs

Focused track submissions: Simplificator[edit]

The Simplificator track called for applications that make access to complex information easier by summarizing them in a simpler form. We received two interesting submissions.

LinkedUp Vici Shortlisted Entries - use cases[edit]

The LinkedUp Vici Competition is the last competition on tools and demos that use open data for educational purposes. This time we asked for mature prototypes that are actually in use or that have been used.

We received thirteen submissions that have been evaluated by a panel of experts, who rated the submissions on their innovative aspects, attractiveness, usefulness, usability, performance, use of data, and the way privacy and other legal aspects were dealt with.

We are happy to announce the shortlist of ten submissions, which are all running sites or apps that you can try out yourself.

Several submissions bundle and offer open educational resources to growing educational communities.

  • AGRIS from the FAO of the United Nations provides access to publications on food and agriculture. Linked data and mash-up techniques are used to create one hub for different repositories. “Even though the application displays a lot of information in a single page, it is still easy to use”, according to one reviewer.
  • Didactalia, developed by the people from GNOSS (who participated before), helps you to browse, find and use learning material on many different topics, for different age groups and from various educational repositories. The reviewers found it an outstanding initiative. Currently, most material is in Spanish.
  • LearnWeb-OER gives users the opportunity to search for resources from the Web and to reuse them in a learning context. The platform allows for collaborative searching and sharing. The reviewers could see that the tool would be very useful to students and teachers alike.

Two other submissions use and enhance existing material to provide users with novel opportunities for learning.

  • FLAX is a site that helps you to learn a language by reading and watching open source material, varying from TED talks to academic collections. Learn to distinguish different word types and the context in which particular words are typically used. The reviewers called it a “very sophisticated application that is also easy to use”.
  • As the name already indicates, HyperTED lets you explore TED talks. It automatically annotates the textual material, recognizes where the main concepts and topics are discussed and provides quick links to reference sites while you watch. The reviewers found it a great addition to watching ‘talking heads’ online.
  • GroupMOOC is not a site but an app (for the iPhone) that you can use for creating course plans based on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). You can check your workload and deadline, and connect and collaborate with groups of friends. The reviewers noted that “A MOOC agregator with social network functionality addresses a real need”.

The final two submissions to the open track use visualization techniques for making it easier to find and connect information.

  • ResXplorer focuses on scientific publication and shows you relations between authors, papers and conferences. By clicking on an author, paper or conference you make it the center of the next round of exploration. The reviewers found it “a good looking site with actionable information’.
  • Histropedia lets you interactively build and publish timelines that give an overview on events in history, based on data in Wikidata and Wikipedia. Teachers can create their own timelines by combining events that they think should be included. “A powerful tool for fast timeline creation.”

Last but not least, the shortlist contains two submissions to the Focused Tracks of the competition. The creators of these submissions spent a great of effort to work with the data required for these tracks and to address the track-specific goals.

  • ISCOOL is a serious game, submitted to the focused track ‘Supporting Developing Countries’. It is an informal learning environment that creates a visual game based on the text that you provide. The reviewers found it “a very innovative idea that could help particular aspects of the learning very well”.
  • The visualization of Water Resources & Ecology provides rich means to search journals, tweets and Wikipedia annotations. The interactive visualizations address the targeted content track, proposed and supported by Elsevier, to see how linked data can be used for making the learning experience more appealing and enhanced. The reviewers spent quite some time clicking around and were “overall happy with the interface and with the data”.