Tactical Tech has been working with the Open Knowledge Foundation on a new project of theirs called School of Data. In our never-ending quest to support rights advocates to work with data and create visual stories we are contributing three courses to this new online learning platform. The first course - A Gentle Introduction to Cleaning Data - is up and ready to guide you through how to clean a dataset using a spreadsheet.
In the course we start with a ‘dirty’ dataset containing lots of common errors. We walk you step-by-step through the process of making it to ‘clean’. We’ll show you how to use a range of common spreadsheet features to find and correct problems such as invisible or inconsistent data, missing values, a bad data structure and so on. By the end of the course, you should leave with a better view of what the spreadsheet can do, a practical process you can repeat on your own datasets and a good idea of how to better find help online about how to use spreadsheets.
The course dataset is interesting too. It’s about ‘land-grabbing’, or the commercial buy-up of agricultural land in the developing world by investment companies and governments to grow biofuel and other commodities, turfing people off land they need for their survival and (some analysts reckon) driving up food prices around the world. The data was produced by GRAIN, an excellent research organisation; I hope they accept our apologies for picking on their data in this course!
There are two more courses in the pipeline. The next one is entitled A gentle introduction to descriptive data analysis.