Community docs

Educator quickstart

As part of's Public Benefit Mission, we offer additional features exclusively for educators at no extra cost.

By using the platform, educators and students gain access to hundreds of thousands of open datasets, integrations with the tools you already know and love, in-browser environments to create data visualizations and practice SQL queries, and tools to aid collaboration between classes and peers. You can find an Example Classroom with demo assignments on to give you an idea of what you can create with your class.

This guide exists to help get you up and running with in your classroom. Before getting started, you'll need to set up your classroom on

Setting up your classroom

  1. Visit our Classroom Setup process. If you don't already have a account, this process will also help you set one up.

  2. Invite your students to join you in the classroom. You can either copy and send the invite link to your students all at once, or have your students sign up for independently and then request to join your classroom. Either way, your students will need to each create free accounts to join you on the platform.

  3. Click "Finish" when you're done.

  4. Check out your new classroom by clicking on your classroom under the "Activity" pane on the left-hand side and then selecting "View organization".

  5. Take a few minutes to add some information about your class to the "Summary" section of the page by clicking + Add summary. This could be a useful place to provide links to relevant resources, your syllabus, or any other information that you think your students would find useful. You can view the introduction to our Simple Data Documentation Editor documentation for more information.

On, we refer to the classroom you've just created as an organization. This is a space where you and your students can add content, collaborate, and create new things together.

Finding and Creating Resources is designed to easily share resources with your students. In many classroom situations, educators will either want to find data or upload their own. We'll walk through both scenarios shortly, but first, it's helpful to understand that houses two primary types of resources: datasets and projects.

  1. Datasets are collections of data files, documentation, scripts, metadata, and any other supporting resources to help other people understand the data. Datasets can include one file or several related files. While our platform can host a wide variety of file types, spreadsheet files (e.g., .csv, .tab, .xlsx) are likely to be the most useful for you.

  2. Projects are spaces to help you collect multiple datasets, query data, create data visualizations, collaborate on analyses, and share findings.

In a classroom setting, it may be most useful to think of projects as a place to provide details of an assignment. Datasets would then be connected to individual projects as you need them. Refer to our datasets vs. projects documentation for more information on this topic.

Finding data

The platform is host to hundreds of thousands of open datasets. The way to access them is to type a search term into the "Search" bar at the top of your page.


If you have any resources inside of your organization, typing a term in the search bar will display your classroom's resources by default. To search the entire open platform, select "Include all community results" under the "Results" header.


Once you've made your search, you can explore the results or utilize some of our advanced search features by clicking "Advanced" to help you narrow them down. For educators, you may want to try selecting dataset from beneath Resource Type, limiting your search to only include dataset resources. You can then filter further by selecting specific Owners or Tags that match what you're looking for.

Evaluating data you found

Now that you've found data on the platform, you'll want to make sure that the data you've found meets your needs. Here are a few things that you may want to check:

  1. Recency: when was the data uploaded? When was it last updated?

  2. Documentation: does the dataset have a full description? Is the Data Dictionary completed?

  3. License: does this dataset license allow you to use the data for your purposes?

  4. File size: if your students will not be working with the data on the platform, you'll want to check the file size before asking them to download since some programs struggle to open large files. If you're interested in file size limits on, refer to our file size documentation.

While these are not meant to solve every use case you may have when evaluating a dataset you found for use in your classroom, hopefully this has provided you a good place to start.dataset license

Saving a dataset

If you find a dataset that you like, you can bookmark it to save it for later. Bookmarks are attached to your individual profile, not your classroom organization, so your students won't be able to see the things you bookmark.

If you find a dataset that you want to incorporate into a project or assignment, you can link that dataset directly to a project. We'll get into more detail on how to do that in the section on Creating an Assignment.

You also may find following particular organizations helpful. That way, you'll be notified whenever that organization adds new data or updates any of their existing datasets. Here are a few examples of some organizations you may be interested in following:

Data Journalism Organizations

Collections of Data Curated by the Team

To follow an organization, you can visit their profile then click the "Follow" button. When organizations you are following make any updates, you'll receive an email notification about those updates.

Uploading Data

If you have found open data elsewhere that meets your needs but isn't on the platform, you can upload it to the platform. You can either upload the data resource directly to your personal account or to your classroom. The process is the same.

  1. Either way, you'll want to click on the +New button located on the header bar right beside your profile picture.

  2. Select "Create new dataset"

  3. Give your dataset a name. This should be "human readable", meaning that it doesn't have to match the file name or omit spaces. Name your dataset something descriptive so that other users know what it's about, particularly if you plan to share this openly on the platform. Keep in mind that datasets can be connected to several projects, so instead of naming a dataset "Assignment 1", it's better practice to name your dataset something based on the contents of the data.

  4. Decide whether you want your classroom organization to be the "owner" of this dataset, or your personal account. If you plan to use the dataset with multiple classes, it may be better to make your personal account the "owner."

  5. Decide who to share the resource with:

    1. If you don't want to share this resource with anyone, select "No One"

    2. If you want to only share this resource with the students in your classroom, make sure the classroom is the owner of the resource and select "All of _____" (where the ____ is the name of your classroom)

    3. If you want to share your dataset with the larger community, click "Make public to community"

  6. Then click "Create dataset". Refer to our Creating Datasets documentation for more information.

  7. Next, add a brief description of this dataset. What data is included? What is the goal? Why would someone want to explore your dataset? This description and the title of your dataset will be visible when people on the open platform find your dataset in their searches.

  8. Then, upload your data by clicking the "Add data" button. You will be given several ways to add a data resource, including uploading from your computer, syncing from a URL, or integrating with other tools like Google Drive. When you're done, click "Continue".

  9. Now, add your documentation. Use the "Summary" area to provide any additional information or materials about where the data came from, how it was collected, any caveats involved etc. The dataset Summary area can be edited using Markdown syntax or our Simple Text Editor. Refer to our Document your data documentation for more information on data dictionaries, tagging, setting license types and more.

  10. For each file that you've uploaded to a single dataset, you can select "Add description" to add a brief description to each file. You can also add labels to indicate whether the data you've uploaded is "raw" or "clean".

  11. If your file is tabular (e.g., a spreadsheet), you can provide information about how to interpret each column of data in the data dictionary. You can access the data dictionary in the "Add a description" menu, under the "Column details" tab.

  12. If your dataset is open to the public, you'll want to make sure that you add both Tags and a License. You can do that by clicking "Edit" next to "About this dataset". Tags make your dataset easier to find when users are searching for it, and licenses let other users know what they are allowed to do with your dataset. Refer to the "Setting a license type" and "Tagging" sections of our Document your data documentation for more information.

Creating an Assignment

On the platform, projects can be used as spaces to share or collaborate on a particular assignment. For more details on the differences between projects and datasets, see the documentation on resources.

To create a new assignment within your classroom:

  1. Click on the +New button located on the header bar right beside your profile picture.

  2. Select "Create a new Project"

  3. Give your project a name. This should be "human readable", meaning that it doesn't have to match the URL or omit spaces. Name your project something descriptive so that other users know what it's about, particularly if you plan to share this openly on the platform.

  4. Set the Owner of the project to your classroom organization.

  5. Decide who you would like to share this assignment with:

    1. If you don't want to share this resource with anyone, select "No One"

    2. If you only want to share this resource with the students in your classroom, make sure the classroom is the owner of the resource and select "All of ____" (where the ___ is the name of your classroom)

    3. If you want to share your project with the larger community, click "Make public to community"

  6. Click "Create Project"

  7. Add a brief description of your project. What is the overall goal? Maybe add the due date here for easy reference.

  8. Next, you can connect data to this project. You can also connect data later, if you don't know which resources you want to connect yet. There are a few ways you can do this:

    1. Connect to a dataset that's already on Click "add data" and then select "Link a dataset". Find the dataset you want to link either by searching, looking at your resources, or looking through your personal bookmarks. Once you find the dataset you want to add, click "Connect".

    2. Upload your own dataset. See the Uploading Data documentation for more information.

  9. Tip

    When you connect to an existing dataset, rather than upload files directly into a project, the dataset can be reused for other projects. If the dataset and associated projects are public, you can also find queries that have been run and other projects that have used a dataset on that dataset's profile page.

  10. When you're finished, click "Done"

  11. Click "Project summary" to add additional information about this project. For assignments, include any information your students would find helpful or relevant to completing the assignment.

If you have finished creating your assignment and want to connect more datasets, you can:

  • Click on "Home" in the project directory and then click "Upload files or connect to data source". Refer to Steps 8-10 in the above section to continue.

If you've found a dataset and want to add it to a project:

  1. In the top right of the dataset overview page, you can click the arrow next to "Explore this dataset".

  2. If the project for your assignment has already been created, click "Connect to existing projects" and then search for a project that you have access to. Select the assignment you are looking for and click "Save".

  3. If the project for your assignment hasn't been created yet, select "Create a new project". This will walk you through the process of creating a new project with the dataset you've selected already added. See the Creating an Assignment section for more information.


Analyzing Data

The platform provides several ways for educators and students to explore and analyze data on the platform as well as connect to some of your favorite tools.

Exploring Data

It is often helpful to begin data exploration by looking at a "high-level" view of the data. The easiest way to do that on the platform is to:

  1. Navigate to a particular dataset that contains tabular files (e.g., .csv, .tab, .xlsx etc.)

  2. Click the button labelled "Switch to column overview" on the bottom right for each file you'd like to explore.


The column overview gives high-level information about each column in the dataset, including how many rows are empty, the number of distinct values in the column, a distribution of values for numeric columns, and either samples or most common values for text-based data columns.


Users can also click on the information icon next to any column name for more information about that column, including a text-based description of the column from the data dictionary.

Querying data with SQL or SPARQL

The platform provides sandbox environments for your students to practice their data querying skills without leaving the platform or having to deal with complicated installations and setups.

If students are practicing their querying skills unrelated to an assignment or project, they can navigate directly to a dataset that they're interested in and click "Explore this dataset". This will generate a new, untitled project for them with the dataset already connected.

If students want to practice their querying skills in an assignment you've already created, they can:

  1. Navigate to the project

  2. Click "Launch Workspace" to open up an editable and collaborative workspace

  3. Next to "Project Directory" click "Add"

  4. Then select either "New SQL query" or "New SPARQL query" depending on your querying language of choice

  5. This will create a new, untitled query. Students can then type directly into the workspace and click "Run query" whenever they want the query to run. They will see the results of their query directly in their browser window. Information about all datasets connected to the project is available in the panel on the right-hand side of the workspace to remain accessible.

  6. If students wish to save a query so that their classmates can also run it or so that they can access the same query again at another time, click the "save" button. Adding a detailed title and description detailing the purpose and output of each query will make them more reusable.

For more information about querying data on the platform, refer to our SQL and SPARQL tutorials.SQL

Visualizing Data

Just as users can query data directly on the platform, they can also visualize data without leaving the platform using our Chart Builder tool.

If you'd like to use a different tool for data visualization (e.g., Tableau, Excel, R, Python etc.) jump ahead to our documentation on Integrations .

Users can access the Chart Builder tool from a few locations:

From a dataset

  • Click "View" in the upper-right hand corner of a file. This will open a project workspace.

From a project workspace

  1. Select a file from a connected dataset, if one isn't already selected

  2. Click the arrow next to "Open in app" and select "Open with Chart Builder". This will open a new window with the data automatically uploaded into the chart builder tool


Chart Builder comes with two options for creating and modifying charts: a Visual Builder and a Vega-Lite Editor. The easiest way to use it is to create your initial chart on the Visual Builder tab and then switch over to the Vega-Lite Editor to make any changes outside the scope of the Visual Builder. See our article on using Vega-Lite or the Vega-Lite website for more information.


You can find more information about using our Chart Builder tool in our Data Visualization with Chart Builder article.