A Case for FOSS Education


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My presentation at the Open Source Conference in Kimberley

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A Case for FOSS Education

  1. Northern Cape FOSS Focus Month FOSS (in) Education and Training <ul>James Njenga University of the Western Cape </ul>23 August 2011
  2. Outline <ul><li>Introduction – about the presenter
  3. FOSS Education
  4. Open Educational Resources (OERs)
  5. Impact of FOSS Education and OERs
  6. Ideas worth exploring </li></ul>
  7. Pandey, I. P. 2006. Literate lives across the digital divide, Computers and Composition 23:246–257 while the digital/electronic media allow me to beat the limits of time and place, they also implicate me in a new divide of global scale, limiting my practices only to one side of the divide although my literate behaviors on the digital front simultaneously shape and are shaped by those that lie clearly outside its purview
  9. FOSS Education (1) <ul><li>Definition </li><ul><li>Theory and practices about on the concepts of FOSS, how to use and develop FOSS.
  10. Transmitting all the knowledge , skills and values we have accumulated about FOSS to the masses. </li></ul></ul>Best teachers plant knowledge seeds that grow forever
  11. FOSS education (2) <ul><li>Pertinent Questions: </li><ul><li>Are we having literacy across divides – in addition to digital literacy (divides)?
  12. How can we adopt new literacies and adapt them to our literacies? Are all literacies adaptable ?
  13. How do our digital literacies shape and are shaped by our contemporary literacies? What are we doing with/to our indigenous knowledge? </li></ul></ul>?
  14. FOSS Education (3) <ul><li>Answers: </li><ul><li>Computer literacies using FOSS:- ability to use a computer to perform common tasks. </li><ul><li>Basics of operating system and office applications
  15. Is there a predominant computing platform? </li></ul><li>Higher skills/literacies – programming </li><ul><li>Availability of source code
  16. FOSS programming languages
  17. FOSS development methodology </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. FOSS Education (4) <ul><li>Answers </li><ul><li>Building a knowledge commons </li><ul><li>We have accumulated a lot of knowledge, that if we use the open source model to sharing it, we can solve almost all immediate problems that we are faced with. </li></ul><li>Using FOSS tools in all this (digital literacies, high level computing skills, knowledge commons) </li><ul><li>Educational packages
  19. FOSS Software developement
  20. Knowledge repositories
  21. Open Sourcing knowledge </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. FOSS Education (5) <ul><li>Computer literacy provides a way of learning new things. But how can it encompass other literacies?
  23. Integration computer literacy into the school curriculum good, but would be more beneficial if it is adaptable for other literacies.
  24. However, there are contexts we have to deal with: </li><ul><li>Poverty, poor infrastructure development, and in-adequacy for computing resources including expertise. </li></ul></ul>
  25. Why FOSS Education (1) <ul><li>Progressively lowering cost
  26. Fostering freedom and openness
  27. Improving on the reliability, performance and security </li></ul>
  28. Why FOSS Education (2) <ul><li>Building long-term capacty required for development
  29. Encouraging local innovations
  30. Learning from together/from each other </li></ul><ul><li>The Ubuntu spirit </li></ul>
  31. Challenges <ul><li>Lack of appropriate curriculum </li><ul><li>Clearly defining curriculum </li></ul><li>Lack of (teaching) resources </li><ul><li>Providing appropriate resources
  32. OER
  33. Collaboration </li></ul></ul>
  34. Challenges (2) <ul><li>Conflicting paradigms and literacies/divides </li><ul><li>Acknowledging diversity, inclusiveness and participatory projects </li></ul><li>Inadequate (programming) skills </li><ul><li>Developing algorithmic thinking
  35. Improving programiming skills
  36. Mentored Internships </li></ul></ul>
  37. Open Education Resources <ul><li>Following from the FOSS Concept, these are materials that are freely and publicly available for teaching, learning and research (under an open licence). </li></ul>
  39. Potential impacts of FOSS and OER <ul><li>Affordability -> economic advantage
  40. Increased openness -> reduced complexity
  41. Flexibility -> localisation, customisation
  42. Scalability -> adaptability
  43. Improved participation -> commons
  44. Improved technology -> more developments
  45. Educated mass -> learning by doing </li></ul>
  46. Ideas worth exploring <ul><li>Catch them when they are young. </li><ul><li>Although Apple tried it and failed, Microsoft is now doing it in SA. Will it fail?
  47. We need to start teaching our kids about open software: </li><ul><li>Teach them computing skills, not programs
  48. Differentiate between training and gaining an education
  49. Educate the young mind for complexities and sophistication of the problem-solutions for the future </li></ul></ul></ul>
  50. Ideas worth exploring (2) <ul><li>Most widely scientific and security computer applications are open source software. </li><ul><li>These are applications that we can use to improve the conditions of our populace
  51. All we need is the open source approach to issues </li></ul></ul>
  52. Ideas worth exploring (3) <ul><li>Walking with the teachers </li><ul><li>In most rural communities in Africa, teachers are highly regarded either because of the influence they have on the young minds, or because they are seen as anchors to knowledge.
  53. Having them in the FOSS education movement will increase the interest in FOSS, FOSS education </li></ul></ul>
  54. Ideas worth exploring (4) <ul><li>Walking with the communities. </li><ul><li>A participatory, all-inclusive approach to FOSS education would get us a long way. </li><ul><li>Should be driven from the communities needs
  55. But also, shaped by what we envisage the future to look like. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  56. <ul><li>James Kariuki Njenga
  57. Department of Information Systems
  58. University of the Western Cape
  59. Tel: 021 959 3243
  60. Fax: 021 959 3522
  61. Email: [email_address] , [email_address]
  62. Twitter: @karitz
  63. Skype: carice2 </li></ul>