Country for PR: United States
Contributor: PR Newswire New York
Wednesday, November 11 2020 - 06:33
Microsoft and the Open Data Institute announce an Education Open Data Challenge to help close the digital divide
LONDON and REDMOND, Washington, Nov. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

Microsoft and the Open Data Institute (ODI) announced today the launch of an 
Education Open Data Challenge to shine light on the relationship between 
broadband access and K-12 (ages 5 to 18 years old) education outcomes. In the 
wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Education Open Data Challenge will help 
educators and research organizations better understand the potential long-term 
impact the ongoing disruption to traditional learning will have on the world's 
most vulnerable learners. 

Logo - 

Microsoft and the ODI are encouraging teams that wish to participate in the 
challenge to help generate innovative solutions to close the digital divide in 
K-12 education to go here ( 
) to learn more. The winning team will be invited to elect a non-profit 
organization of their choice to receive a GBP 50,000 award, with the runners-up 
electing non-profit organizations of their choice to receive GBP 30,000 and GBP 
20,000 awards. The challenge is open to teams and individuals based globally. 

"As students around the world increasingly rely on technology and connectivity 
to succeed in school, we must find ways to allow every student, everywhere, to 
succeed. Combining datasets in new ways can help unlock solutions to expand 
equitable and robust access to broadband," said Jennifer Yokoyama, Microsoft 
Vice President and Chief IP Counsel. "We're excited to join in the launch of 
this Education Open Data Challenge to help close the digital divide and level 
the playing field for students around the world."

Participants will receive access to tools and resources from Microsoft, the 
ODI, and BroadbandNow, as well as data made available for the first time as 
part of this challenge:

    -- Participants will have access to a more granular version of 
       Microsoft's U.S. broadband usage data, this time with differential 
       privacy applied. Microsoft will make available documentation that 
       demonstrates the impact that applying differential privacy has had 
       on the data. 

    -- The ODI will provide access to several eLearning modules on 
       Open Data Essentials ( 
       Finding Stories in Data ( 
       Guidance for data users on data licensing ( 
       and How to anonymize datasets ( 
       for participants who wish to contribute their own data, as well as 
       mentorship. Participants are also able to access free 
       MS Learn ( 
       training resources and training modules. 

    -- From BroadbandNow, participants will be able to access U.S. 
       broadband terrestrial provider data. 

The use of privacy-preserving technologies will become more prevalent as 
organizations seek to collaborate across the spectrum of data ( 
). The datasets that will be made openly available with the challenge will help 
participants to assess and understand the effect that technologies such as 
differential privacy can have on data insights and analysis.    

"Organizations like Microsoft and BroadbandNow possess a wealth of interesting 
data that can be used to provide insights and support decision-makers in the 
education sector and beyond, especially as they face unprecedented challenges. 
This Challenge will stimulate the exploration of innovative uses for this data, 
outside the boundaries of the organizations that hold it," said Jeni Tennison, 
Vice President & Chief Strategy Adviser of the ODI. "The ODI is here to help 
organizations that want to ensure the data they hold brings the most value to 
the sectors, communities and societies they work in."

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted learning for more than 1.6 billion children 
and youth worldwide, as governments across the globe have closed educational 
institutions to stop the spread of the virus. In response, schools and teachers 
have made an unprecedented effort to reach students remotely through distance 
learning tools and platforms.   

As the digital divide is expanded by the abrupt global transition to remote 
learning, understanding how and where the digital divide affects communities 
will be critical for managing the short-term delivery of education and ensuring 
a sustainable, equitable economic recovery. 

"We are thrilled to participate in providing data for the Open Data Challenge 
and look forward to discoveries made by the participants," said John Busby, 
Managing Director of BroadbandNow. "Access to affordable broadband internet is 
crucial to education and digital equity." 

Participating teams will be asked to identify gaps in digital infrastructure 
that affect the delivery of education services online, pinpoint potential 
impacts on learning outcomes, and suggest innovative and realistic solutions to 
address these gaps in a cost-efficient way. Some of the questions the challenge 
seeks to answer include:

    -- How do students access remote learning, especially those who may not 
       have easy access to digital infrastructure (e.g., technology and 
       internet connectivity)? 

    -- What level of digital access to learning do students from 
       disadvantaged groups have, relative to more advantaged groups? 

    -- What is the relationship between levels of digital skills and 
       learning outcomes for different demographics?

Participants will have four months to complete the challenge from the opening 
date. Individuals and teams interested in participating in the challenge can 
learn more and register interest here ( 
). Once registered, individuals will be invited to attend dedicated activities 
to preview the data, learn more about it from the involved partners, and get 
equipped on how to best use it ahead of the public release on December 10, 

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT" @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era 
of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower 
every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

About the Open Data Institute
The ODI was co-founded in 2012 by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee 
and artificial intelligence expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt to show the value of 
data, and to advocate for the innovative use of data to affect positive change 
across the globe. We're an independent, non-profit, non-partisan company 
headquartered in London, with an international reach. We work with companies 
and governments to build an open, trustworthy data ecosystem, where people can 
make better decisions using data and manage any harmful impacts.

SOURCE Microsoft Corporation

CONTACT: Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, +1 (425)