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How Open Data, data literacy and Linked Data will revolutionise higher education

May 25th, 2011 by Graham Attwell
This paper is an excellent introduction to the potentially transformation role of Open and Linked Data in education and research. Derek McAuley, Hanif Rahemtulla, James Goulding and Catherine Souch point to the importance of data literacy – defined as “the ability to identify, retrieve, evaluate and use information to both ask and answer meaningful questions.
They quote Meltzoff et al.who reported that “insights from many different fields are converging to create a new science of learning that may transform education practice.”
Linked data, they believe, will be central to such a transformation.
However they point to many challenges that have to be overcome citing Bechhofer who argues that we must bring our attention to bear on publishing requirements such as data provenance, quality and attribution.
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Linked Data, which uses familiar web-based URL addresses to provide links between Open Data sources, allows higher education to benefit from a ‘network effect’ as educational data is liberated from its traditional silos. Richer interconnected information environments will produce richer learning environments and a host of new opportunities: simplifying resource discovery and promoting personal exploration of material; supporting integration of distributed discourse while encouraging referencing skills; enhancing construction of both personal and group knowledge while promoting self-actuated learning; facilitating better argumentation and critical thinking skills through advanced reasoning over large volumes of resources; and because Linked Data represents a powerful tool for independent learning, it does all this with the added benefit of further disintermediating educators.

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