Data-driven development and its potential to transform lives: A new online course explores how data can benefit marginalized populations

Sheila Jagannathan, The World Bank

Malarvizhi Veerappan , The World Bank

Global data flows are expanding at an unprecedented rate, with data becoming ubiquitous and therefore, making it critical to solving development problems. Yet much of the value of data remains untapped.

While data are becoming an integral part of the lives of most people everywhere, it’s important to think about how it matters for marginalized people. There are more than 700 million people living in extreme poverty; it is crucial to understand how the explosion in data can improve their lives. It can be a powerful tool to decrease poverty in low- and middle-income countries and change lives.

What needs to be done to harness the tremendous potential of data for development, while also acknowledging data’s potential to harm individuals, governments, businesses, and societies? What kind of governance arrangements are needed to create and use data in a safe, ethical, and secure way while equitably delivering value? What kind of data literacy is needed to improve and encourage data use and reuse to solve development challenges?

The World Bank Group’s (WBG) new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), "Data for Better Lives: A New Social Contract,” will address these questions and give course participants an opportunity to learn from global experts, from October 6th to November 16th 2021.

This free course is based on the World Development Report (WDR) 2021, Data for Better Lives.

Haishan Fu, Director of the World Bank’s Development Data Group, emphasises the relevance of this course: “What’s even more important than the data that can transform the lives of the most marginalized amongst us? The people who use it. It is only by making sure that people understand the transformative value of data in solving development problems that we can realize the new social contract for data [envisioned by the WDR 2021]. This course is thus absolutely essential in turning our aspirations into reality and harnessing data as a potent driver of economic and social progress.”

World Bank Video

The MOOC gives insights into the following areas:

  • How to get more value out of data while protecting people against harm and ensuring access and representation,
  • Discusses data governance improvements necessary to implement the principles of the social contract for data and achieve the ambitious vision of the Integrated National Data System (INDS),
  • Focuses on data literacy and takes a step forward in advocating for improving data use for development purposes,
  • Explores how data-driven development can be fostered by analyzing where public and private sector investments are the most critical,
  • Presents a rich program for policy reform and technical assistance,
  • Highlights areas where global initiatives and partnerships can help to convene and facilitate cooperation at regional, bilateral, and international levels,
  • Identifies inadequacies in the current data landscape and reviews ways to resolve them.

The course is relevant to development professionals, government officials, academic institutions, businesses and civil society organizations, working or interested in data driven development, as well as individuals interested in learning about what data changes and challenges lay ahead.

Participants will:

  • Learn from and interact with global experts and practitioners.
  • Collaborate with thousands of development and policy experts.
  • Build a global development professional network.
  • Have the option to earn a World Bank Group–edX certificate.

8 Terrific Features of the Course

  1. 21 video talks by the authors of the World Development Report 2020 and other renowned global experts.
  2. Video captions available in six other languages: French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and Portuguese
  3. Peer review and collaborative assignments wherein learners produce written material to synthesize practical learnings in their own contexts.
  4. A final digital artifact (project) to summarize key lessons learned from the course.
  5. E-discussions as well as social media channels, such as Twitter, to enable learners to communicate and share resources.
  6. Live chats with experts, who engage in a Q&A with learners.
  7. A library of reading, resources, and optional exercises for those who choose the “Development Specialist Track,” which provides more technical information.
  8. A recognition program to acknowledge learners who take on additional tasks to be considered a “Course Hero.”

Role of MOOCs in Global Capacity Building

Since its inception in 2015, the World Bank Group’s Open Learning Campus has aimed to become one of the world’s leading references and go-to destinations in:

  • International development education to increase development effectiveness and share knowledge about development themes in flexible and accessible ways.
  • Raising awareness of global, regional, national, and local development challenges and the approaches and programs underway by the World Bank Group and its partners to tackle these.
  • Creating online knowledge exchange, learning, and capacity-building programs that bring together global-national-local public and private actors to catalyze finance, investment, and know-how in support of the World Bank Group’s twin goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

This MOOC exemplifies the power and potential of online engagement and capacity building. Our World Development Report MOOCs have benefited more than 100,000 learners across the globe. Our goal is to continue growing this program by offering free access to world-class knowledge on the most pressing development topics and challenges. We hope that you will join us in exploring them – register here for the 2021 World Development Report MOOC ‘Data for Better Lives: A New Social Contract’.

The course is offered through WBG’s Open Learning Campus (OLC) on the edX platform with generous financial contributions from the Republic of Korea as part of OLC’s Korea Program for Operational Knowledge.