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!
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!
Wende School Project – Part 5 (Localized TuxTyping)
We have been looking for a Free and Open Source typing application for kids for quite some time. We found TuxTyping appealing and decided to localize the interface and the 43 typing exercises that come with it into Chinese. TuxTyping is an educational typing tutor for kids starring Tux, the Linux penguin. This educational game comes with two different games for practicing typing, and allows you to create exercises according to students needs. Of course we already brought this good news to Wende School. After two hours of training, Miss Liu was already mastering TuxTyping. She will incorporate it into the school program starting from 2010.
Fred is now submitting the Chinese version upstream to make it available for everybody. The TuxTyping developers have been very responsive and helpful with our translation problems and fixing minor bugs we found. We are now even working with them to make it workable for Chinese input method, as only pinyin typing is available currently. Hopefully we will have something ready to test soon.
In no time thanks to volunteers and passionate people like us, we went from nothing available in Chinese to a great looking software that will even deal with the Chinese language specificities. That’s the reason why I love Open Source; its community and its spirit definitely ROCK!
An event helping the Migrant Workers Families
As a volunteer of the Greenboard Free and Open Teaching project, I was invited to join the charity event hosted by Friends of New Citizens and 10 other NGOs on December 13 Sunday. The event objectives were mainly to:
- give awards and recognitions to volunteers and migrant schools teachers (and RMB 50,000 red pocket will go to 99 teachers during the coming Chinese New Year, it was announced by Mr. Xu from Narada Foundation during the event)
- give subsidies to Migrant workers’ families (a total of RMB 600,000 to 300 families)
- enjoy the day with nice songs and dance (it was definitely a very nice show for all of us)
- panel discussions trying to solve problems
It was a very successful event with over 400 participants. The whole venue was seated with migrant workers families and migrant schools teachers as well as volunteers coming from different NGOs all focusing on helping migrant workers families. It was also full of touching stories and hot discussions about how to improve the quality of living for migrant workers families. It was very nice to see that so many organizations were concerned about this society problem. But we all know that subsidy can only help in the short term, policy and education are the only long term solution. In order to solve the root problem the society should provide migrant workers with trainings in order to be able to access better job opportunities and their children with free and decent quality education. We should definitely invite the government and Ministry of Education to participate in these kinds of events and panel discussions 🙂 Yes, it’s time to nurture and be responsible for migrant workers!
Wende School Project – Part 4
Just back from Cambodia and Vietnam, I returned to Wende School to see how things were going. With the help of Julien and Jason, they already incorporated computer classes into their existing curriculum, once a week for grade 3 to grade 6 (grade 1 and 2 should have it soon) teaching children how to use the keyboard and mouse with Gcompris and giving Art classes with Kolourpaint. Miss Liu already scheduled each grade classes until the end of the school year. When we arrived grade 5 was actually using the computer lab, it was so cool! At the end of the class, we discussed again with Miss Liu and gathered more comments.
The main reason of our visit was to give formal training to the English teacher (whom I mentioned in my previous blog post). For this session, we tried to deliver a class that would enable her to teach at the end of the course. We managed to build a new 2 hours class focusing on:
- Concepts of Computer, FOSS and Open Education in education (10 mins)
- Hardware and Operating System introduction (30 mins)
- Apps to teach English (30 mins)
- Italc classroom management system (30 mins)
- Q&A (20 mins)
The purpose of the shortening of the initial teacher training class is mainly due to the high turn over rate of teachers in Migrant Schools. After 2 hours of training, the teacher take the Gdium home and practices with it during her spare time. Any question is then directed to either Miss Liu who is already trained (and of course ourselves).
This time again, at the end of the training section, the Maths teacher this time popped in and expressed her interest to join the training next time. It seems that word of mouth is doing wonder at Wende School hopefully we can spread the word all over China soon!