When I talk to people as a member of FSFE’s education team, there’s always the question what we are actually doing. It is not so easy to come up with something specific. I know we’ve been busy all the time, but ad hoc, it’s difficult for me to name examples, that are worth mentioning. A lot of work that’s being done just doesn’t provide a presentable outcome (more on that below). With this post, I’ll publicly report what we’ve done in 2011 and give a brief overview of what is about to come in 2012.
For me, the main task was drafting the mission statement. It took us a few months, but finally we had something to point at when people asked. And by people I don’t mean only distant strangers, I also mean us. Everybody had his own vague idea what we are supposed to be doing. There was no way to tell if we really had that much in common at all. So, we drafted the statement, asked the public (friends) in various mailing lists for feed-back and at the end agreed on the final version. And from that point on, every new edu-team member knew what he may expect from joining. The statement may evolve over time, so I rather conserve the current version here:
The goal of FSFE’s Education Team is to bring the benefits of Free Software to all education-related activities and institutions. In accordance with FSFE’s Self Conception, we shall bring the use of Free Software in education to political agendas across European borders, and inform administrations, teachers, students and their parents about the benefits Free Software provides.
We shall foster communication and cooperation among these groups, and establish and extend dialogue between them and Free Software developers and advocates. We shall establish a legal framework that shall prohibit discrimination against Free Software and its users, and make available FSFE’s extensive expertise to all parties involved.
The second big thing for the edu-team was our involvement in the NLedu campaign. The preparation took some time and since the main discussions are done in dutch, it’s hard for non dutch participants to follow it. But Jan Stedehouder published the first newsletter about it recently also in English. If you read dutch, his blog is currently the best resource for news about it. Come join us!
Edu-Team members were also busy giving talks at events in 2011:
- I gave a talk aimed at kids and youths explaining Free Software at FrOSCon, St. Augustin, Germany.
- Sebastian gave a talk at Ubucon, Leipzig, Germany (Update: there is a video available on Youtube)
- and so did Thomas with a different subject.
- Sebastian again, this time at BLIT (Brandenburger Linux Info Tag), Potsdam, Germany
- while I was at FSCONS explaining the work of the edu-team, Gothenborg, Sweden
- and in December, Elias Aarnio at Online-Educa, Berlin, Germany
That is not all, there are quite a few other things we did:
We worked on a few of our leaflets. We are constantly fine tuning them and want to tailor them to address specific target groups. If you have any feed-back or want to help with that, please let us know!
We got asked if we had some teaching material for explaining Free Software to kids. I thought that should be easy to find, since there are so many people out there trying to bring Free Software into schools. I really tried hard, but surprisingly with no success. If you know of any freely usable materials in this direction, please let us know! We may end up creating such material eventually, but I still can’t believe that there is nothing already out there and would like to prevent the duplicate work.
The Finnish National Board of Education has funded a project in which edu-team member Elias Aarnio and others were searching a Learning Management System that would work together with Ubuntu based LTSP used in the schools of Kemi.
We helped and came up with edu related questions for the “ask your candidates” campaign that were sent to parties in various countries. Edu-Team member Peter Beck sent the questions to the political parties in Liechtenstein.
We started collaborating with the edu group at gnu.org.
Sebastian published an article in Freies Magazin, November edition (German).
Chris Woolfrey interviewed me for the Fellowship interview in June.
After the one in November 2010, there was another freedroidz workshop in Berlin (Germany).
I created and identi.ca group “eduteam” just for the sake of it, but I have no plans on how to use it yet. Would you follow it?
We were also working on our internal infrastructure, mailing lists, etherpad, wiki and managed to arrange some personal meetings among edu-team members.
And of course many little brief contacts and general networking, like providing feed-back to an ICT principle of a school in UK, looking to engage girls 11-14 with Free Software, help a Russian school to provide their materials in Free formats and reply to various other questions.
I have to work on my blogging habit which got less and less during the year, but I blame the preparations for the talks for that I began with publishing summaries of edu related news in Europe bi-monthly, but discarded that approach in favor of a more regular post-it-when-you-see-it method. Unfortunately, this didn’t work and led only to three more edu postings, which is less than the number of postings if I hadn’t changed my bi-montlhy routine.
Thus, all the news I found and sent to the edu-eu mailing list after March, didn’t make it into this blog . To name a few:
- IT: DossierScuola – Promoting the use of free software in public education
- CH Parliamentarian: Schools should use open source to inspire students
- FR: Open source-based digital working spaces for French primary schools
- NO: Friprog makes appeal to promote free software in Norway
- Learning programming to change the world (German). Nice article by Andrea Hemetsberger in an Austrian magazine.
- UNESCO launches second version of Miftaah, set of FOSS in Arabic
And of course there were a few things that didn’t work out. Luckily, most of them can be called rather postponed for 2012 than canceled.
I couldn’t attend the general assembly of FSuB e.V. in Berlin.
I heard that the organizers of the OpenRheinRuhr had planned to invite teachers to inform them about Free Software. We offered our help, but somehow this didn’t work out. The good thing about this was, that I could then attend FSCONS instead .
We got contacted by Martin Ebner, university Graz, co-author of L3T (textbook for lerning and teaching with technology) who invited us to an OER conference. Unfortunately, nobody was able to participate.
we followed quite a few hints suggested by others but had to discard them. This was partly very time consuming, but didn’t produce any visible or measurable result, but we gained some experience what might be worth pursuing in the future which will save time eventually.
A talk for teachers had to be postponed because the conference got canceled and so was a freedroidz workshop with kids in Stuttgart.
And my excuse for everything I didn’t get to in 2010 is the birth of my 2nd child, Kanoa Tayne, in May
So, what’s next in 2012?
We’ll continue what we’ve been doing, like working on the NLEdu campaign, improve the edu pages on fsfe.org, the leaflets and the wiki, plan more FreeDroidz workshops (Berlin, Bonn and Stuttgart are in the works), give more talks, publish more articles in magazines and blogs, share edu related infos and network with activists throughout Europe.
So far, so good. Anything new? Yes.
Hooked up at FSCONS’ accessibility track, I got interested in the matter and also a little concerned that the Free Software that is already being used, might be banned from class in the future if strict accessibility requirements are set by law (which I’d consider generally as a good thing, btw). Developing the necessary tools will require money. The EU is currently spending some for the AEGIS project, but this will run out soon. What’s missing is a sustainable, continuous flow of money for the development of Free accessibility tools, according to Mats Lundälv in his talk. But all this might be worth a separate posting once we gathered enough information about the matter.
We’ll also spend some time investigating what can be done in Extremadura where more and more concerning news emerge.
And we might very well chose to pick up any subject you suggest!
Update (Jan 12, 2013: Miguel Ángel Pereira Baz informed me about the following edu related blog posts by CEDEC (all in Spanish):