Digital Freedom Foundation is at it again as we announced last August and we are finally launching our new celebration around Free Educational Resources called Education Freedom Day. The day selected is January 18th 2014 (Saturday) which we believe to be mid school year and a good time to evaluate what has been done and to look at what else could be added. We really hope this can provide a great introduction to educators, professors, teachers and anybody else involved in the education industry about what Free Educational Resources (FER) is, its benefits and how vibrant your local community is.
In the meantime, we are getting more involved with Polytechnic University in Hong Kong thanks to Graham and started to work on our EFD event in Hong Kong. We plan to cover Free and Open Source Software, Hardware and Content for educational purposes by introducing Arduino, Raspberry Pi, GNOME educational software (e.g. Rur-ple & GCompris) and of course some great international and local Free Educational projects.
Please help us to promote EFD by using our EFD countdown and banners. If you have contacts with either your local schools, colleges, universities or some open education projects please visit the EFD wiki, create your event page and register your event! If you have any question, please join and ask our EFD mailing list or IRC channel #efday @ Freenode.
Happy Education Freedom Day!
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I would like to share with you that Google (long term sponsor and supporter of the Digital Freedom Foundation) has launched its Code-in 2013 program, an online contest to introduce 13-17 year old pre-university students to free and open source software development. The contest is similar to the Google Summer of Code program for older students in that it gives participants the opportunity to work with mentors from carefully chosen free and source software projects on real-world coding and related tasks like QA, documentation and more. Over the last 3 years over 1200 students from 71 countries have participated. Google hope to expand the program this year and would appreciate your help and that of the members of your community to spread the word to girls and boys around the world.
The contest begins on Monday, November 18th 2013 and runs through January 5th, 2014. Prizes for participating – online only! – in the contest include certificates, tee-shirts, and an all-expenses paid trip to Google headquarters in California, USA for 20 Grand Prize winners with a parent or legal guardian.
You can learn more by watching a screencast and/or a short video describing the contest here and by visiting the program site for complete details here. You can also download a flyer about the program here. Please help to spread the word and get more students involved in FOSS by joining the Google Code-in program!
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We happened to be in Guangzhou earlier this week and spent a wonderful evening with the core members of the local GNU/Linux user group in Guangzhou. They gave us an overview of their group history and progress: basically it is a two years old group with over 700 people subscribed to their mailing list and around 5 core members to manage the group activities. They host regular meetings on a monthly basis in different locations such as restaurants or classrooms. They also organized Software Freedom Day events the past two years and recorded over 100 participants in 2012. While we shared our experiences of how we ran and grew the Beijing GNU/Linux User group with them.
They also mentioned that half of their members are interested in “free” hardware highlighting the growing connection between two movements that we feel very linked. In fact we cannot ignore the fact that hardware needs software to operate and a bit of free culture to make those logos, the documentation and the potential courses that go together to bring it to more people. Each of the movements (software, hardware, culture, OER) should care equally about each others in order to exist as they need one another to thrive. I truly believe that bringing those concepts as one within our communities and to the world will create a bigger impact for everyone.
To conclude, Guangzhou LUG wants to grow in terms of attending members and meeting frequency so we offered to put them in touch with the Shantou Linux Association as they are planning for their upcoming activities right now, and sharing ideas can’t hurt. Besides, there are five universities in Guangzhou with computer science classes which are located in the same area and could become a very prosperous ground for cooperation and activities. That’s another lead right there!
In light of all those discussions and plans we will be hosting a round table discussion mid December on our next visit to Guangzhou. We hope that getting members from each university and setting up a plan together will create a more diverse group in the area with a more balanced workload for everyone.
I am always very happy to meet passionate people from different communities and can’t wait to meet them again soon!
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End of October saw us visiting Hong Kong another time. While we will not attend the OpenStack Summit the main purpose of our visit was to attend a round table discussion on the government’s digital 21 consultation organized by Charles Mok office and Hong Kong in-Media. We were actually introduced to in-Media by our nice friends from Google and asked to give an overview on Open Data and Open Source, while other participants covered the other fields mentioned in the document.
OpenData has already started in Hong Kong and the government seems to be interested to push the adoption further. While this is a rather positive move, the government probably needs to put some efforts on standardization and improving both the quality and the feedback loop on the available data. On our side we were lucky enough to be assisted by Pia Waugh, former president of Software Freedom Internation and now working for the Australian government implementing Open Data.
(Free and) Open Source unfortunately is not mentioned at all in the document and we covered how important it is for governments to support the effort and what others have been doing for the past ten years. Hong Kong is probably a place where software is mainly imported and the only way to get tailor-made applications which Hong Kong companies can expect specific functionalities to cover their needs is by using Free Software. Not to mention that the government is also planning to bring programming to primary and secondary schools as well as boost start-ups and the SME business in general.
Overall we had a thorough and lengthy debate on those matters and I felt our points were well perceived. We have been recommended to push the discussion directly with the department who wrote the proposal and are now preparing for our next meeting.
In the meantime you can take a look at the slides I wrote to guide the debate here: digital21hk-comments-on-opendata-opensource
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Group photo with the STU Linux Association members.
After organizing the SFD event in Hong Kong in PolyU, Fred and I were invited to join another SFD event hosted by the Linux Association from Shantou University (STU). We had the pleasure to meet an associate professor of the Computer Science Department, Mr. Liao who is actually a Free Software user himself. The three of us gave presentations about different topics related to software freedom: Fred began with introducing what is Free Software and why it is important, he gave an overview on how the audience could benefit from using and contributing to any Free Software project, including GSoC for next summer. Then I talked about who and what makes Free Software, I started with a quick history review of Free Software and followed by how the audience could get involved and contribute to the community (I reused the slides created by Mathieu for SFD Hong Kong 2013). Mr. Liao presented his experience with Free Software and GNU/Linux as well as introduced a lot of great Free Software projects to the audience.
The event ended up with local desserts and lots of great discussions about how to strengthen the Shantou Linux Association. We also agreed to follow up with core members meetings and mailing list in the following weeks. From what we learnt, they are having a meeting today to kick-start the discussion! By having a professor involved in the process, I believe it can definitely help to build awareness of Free Software in STU. We are definitely looking forward to our next meeting together and committed to help them grow stronger and bigger.
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