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Free Software in Education NEWS – January

Here’s what I collected in January. If you come accross anything that might be worth mentioning in this series, please drop me a note, dump it in this pad or even better: drop it on the edu-eu mailinglist!

FSFE Edu-Team activities

We are still working on the edu pages on FSFE although I haven’t had much time for it this month. Although I did manage to grep the SVN of to find edu related articles that are scattered around the site. Now, we can start to sort and consolidate what we currently have and embed in what we want to have in the future. This and everything else we’ve been planning will be put in a separate posting. If you have any input on that, please drop us a line!

We received and replied to a few inquiries, one was if the content of our edu leaflet may be used in derivative works. They may. We will relicense them under CC-BY-SA 4.0 eventually to make this obvious to everybody.

Sebastian pointed me to CodeCombat, a game designed to learn programming. I haven’t had the chance to look at it yet, but it sounds cool. 🙂


Great article by Gregg Ferrie on how to Upgrade your school to Free Software! I read it only once, but I definitely have to get back to it soon. Among a lot of other things, it contains a link to scientific research on the benefits of thin clients.

Another great report on Joinup about a Croatian group conducting Software workshops and attract students. I’d like to contact these folks and hope that I’ll get to it some time.

University of Graz, Austria awarded the E-Learning Champion 2013 – their highest remunerated award for excellence in teaching to Gerald Senarclens de Grancy for his courses “Computational Management Science” 1 and 2. Both courses teach basic programming skills to business students. However, it is to be pointed out that the price was awarded because the courses fundamentally use and promote Free Software, open (web) standards and open content (German). This benefits, among others, platform-independent mobile learning. Congratulations!

Charlie Reisinger explains how they prepared 1725 laptops in a two day weekend using the the FLDT system. Pretty impressive… The procedure is also discussed on the Debian/edu mailing list.

On the edu mailinglist of Apirl (French), they discuss if the switch-off for MS XP support isn’t a perfect opportunity to switch to Free Software.

The KDE edu list gained quite some momentum. This months several people offered help on developing edu applications, namely parley, labPlot 2 (see software news), kgeography and kmplot.

Santiago Ferreira Litowtschenko pointed to USB4butia, a free (as in Freedom) input/output board. The project BUTIÁXhas more info (in Spanish). took place on January 18

RoboSchool, a 5 day workshop dealing with robotics, is taking place in Chemnitz, Germany. I don’t know how much Free Software will be used there, but as Markus Dittman is involved, I guess FS will be used. Does anybody know more about it?

The General Assembly of FRISK  took place in Oslo-Trondheim, Norway

An Arduino workshop for teachers took place in Damme, Germany


Edu software

Alexander Semke announced the first stable version of LabPlot2 on the KDE edu mailing list.

Distro news

Skolelinux: Petter Reinholdtsen asked if anybody knows how the Skolelinux Live 7.1 was made. There was no response on the mailing list yet. Anyone?

Aseem Sharma had a look at four kids distros (namely Quimo, Ubermix, Edubuntu and Sugar) and explains his argumentation why kids should be exposed to Free Software early

Other news

Google Research ran a pilot to teach kids computer science and shared their findings after 31 after-school programs for 4th-12th grades.

First and not so surprising but still worth mentioning:

Students were most engaged when they had a creative outlet or where there was a big “wow-factor”. They were less engaged with tools that were strongly scaffolded for learning and did not result in a creative result. In this initial set of pilots, students were most engaged with Scratch and App Inventor.

Pretty much in the same direction goes this interview with a teacher and these four projects for parents to teach their kids about open hardware and electronics by Dave Neary.

Not directly related to Free Software, but it is still interesting to keep an eye on the current market development:Microsoft loses marketshare massively to Chromebooks in the US schools.

Future Events

I am especially happy, that the pad to submit more edu news has been used by some people. This makes this work much more fun! Thanks to all contributors!