Thanks to Education Freedom Day, we started a conversation with a local NGO here in Shantou, Teach For China which is non-profit working on Chinese education inequity and founded in 2008. They are currently looking at developing some e-learning solutions with the schools they are involved with this year and we have been invited to present Greenboard during their mid-year professional development conference. The conference is happening this weekend (22/33 February) in Shantou, China and we will most likely spend the whole Sunday discussing with their fellows. As we already had a pre-meeting last weekend we feel there are a lot of things which could be used from the work we did in the Beijing area and we are looking forward to share our experience on the matter. Hopefully, we’ll have more to tell soon!
Education Freedom Day celebrations 18 January 2014
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.
Meet the Guangzhou LUG
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!
DFF going into Open Education
Being part of the Digital Freedom Foundation, I would like to share with you some good news!
DFF is announcing its inclusion of the Greenboard project, an Open Education project started in China and focusing on adding FOSS equipped computers to primary schools as a tool to their current curriculum. With years of experience pushing Free Software and OER in poor schools the DFF board has acquired great knowledge of the challenges associated with OER in general and specific educational constraints in particular, assets it is taking to promote around the world.
The first phase will be to publicize all its content into English so it is easily transferable to other places in the world with minimum efforts. Once this is done we will then be able to improve and develop more content while eventually starting to localize our resources to specific regions where opportunities arise.
Our current three international days celebrating and promoting Free Software, Free Culture and Open Hardware will be completed by a fourth day to enhance our efforts as well as bring light to the already existing hundreds of similar projects that the world counts today. The first instance of Education Freedom Day will be on January 18th, 2014.
Speaking at OpenSym + WikiSym 2013
During my last visit in Hong Kong I met a few of my usual friends and about 2 weeks later received an invitation to speak at the OpenSym + WikiSym 2013 which will be hosted in Hong Kong from 5 to 8 August 2013. Of course I’d thank Haggen for passing the message and the team behind the conference for the invitation.
I have decided to present my work with Open Education which happens to match the conference rather well (I was told), and will therefore summarize what has been done around Beijing since about 2006. The interesting part is that this project (named greenboard) covers a lot of different pieces ranging from hardware donation, curriculum design, using Free Software and customizing or translating the possible solution. It will of course talk about GNU/Linux, some of the GNOME and KDE educational applications we are using as well as putting it all together and allowing teachers to control the classroom. Since there will be researchers and communities flying from all over the world to participate for the event, I look forward to receiving good insights, get further ideas to improve what we have done so far and why not, expand to new territories.
As a side note the conference call for talks is still open, the submission deadline being on May 17, 2013. So feel free to either come and talk about something interesting or just drop by and say hi in early August if you are in town!