Microsoft, Open Data Institute Announce Broadband Data Challenge
- By Dian Schaffhauser
has co-launched the "Education
Open Data Challenge,"
to establish the link between broadband access and K-12 learning
outcomes. The company will be working with the Open
on the initiative, with support from Broadband
The ODI is a London-based nonprofit, non-partisan organization that
works with companies and government agencies to build "open,
trustworthy data ecosystems." Broadband Now is a website that
helps people compare the services offered by internet service
providers in their community.
challenge will task individuals and teams to evaluate the state of
the global digital divide in K-12 and come up with innovative
solutions for bridging the gap in a "cost-efficient way."
solutions need to cover three areas:
steps that government, education providers, businesses and society
at large can take to help students gain access to education where
digital infrastructure is lacking;
school leaders can "improve digital access to enable equal
learning" for all of their students; and
to build the skills required for making online learning programs
"inclusive and effective" for students in disadvantaged
help participants in their work, they'll receive access to tools and
resources from all three organizations, as well as data made
available for the first time as part of the challenge:
more granular version of Microsoft's U.S. broadband usage data than
is normally made available; the data will have differential privacy
applied. Microsoft will also provide documentation that demonstrates
the impact that applying differential privacy has had on the data.
Participants will also able to access free Microsoft
training resources and training modules.
ODI will provide mentoring and access to several digital learning
modules, covering open
to find stories in data
and guidance for data users on data
to anonymize datasets
for participants who wish to contribute their own data.
Broadband Now, participants will be able to access U.S. broadband
terrestrial provider data.
winning team will be allowed to choose a nonprofit organization of
its choice to receive a $66,000 award. First and second runners-up
will be able to designate nonprofits to receive awards of about
$40,000 and $26,000.
participants must be registered to gain access to the resources made
available for the challenge and attend various online programs where
the data will be previewed. Those are taking place in November. The
challenge officially opens on Dec. 10, 2020. Proposals are due by
Jan. 31, 2021. The winners will be announced on May 1, 2021.
than ever, reliance on access to broadband has the potential to
determine whether students thrive or struggle in their educational
journeys," wrote Jennifer Yokoyama, chief IP counsel for
Microsoft, in a blog
about the competition. "If we want to level the playing field so
all students have access to the technology and connectivity, they
need to be successful, we need to work together and collaborate
around data that has the potential to unlock truly promising
the Challenge website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.