January 20-22, 2012, Hilton Los Angeles Airport Hotel

Open Source Software In Education

Dana Ross

Using Open Source Software for the Media Professional and Educators

Most independent media professionals can't afford to pay the high price of professional Closed Source software and constant upgrades. Enter the Open Source alternatives. Here is a review of the best of the Open Source choices for Photographers, Graphic Artists and Video Shooters.  Dana Ross, a lifelong working professional, shares his experience, recommendations and tips for using Open Source Software when your career and livelihood depend on it.


Abe Kazemzadeh

OLPC for Middle School After-School Programs

We present experiences from an after-school program's activities with the OLPC project's XO computers at the Foundation for Arts, Mentoring, Leadership, and Innovation (FAMLI L.A.) .  We'll cover how kids and adults learned to use the XOs, the kids' usage of XO software, introducing the kids to hardware, projects using the XO, and the usage of XOs in comparison with other computers.  What we observed is that kids tended to approach learning to use the XO computers differently than adults, through playing with it and asking questions as opposed to having a specific task and doing internet searches.  Creativity programs and games were more used than educational applications, perhaps due to it being an after school program and not a daily class.  Students were also excited about the ability to take apart the computers and fix broken ones. This activity was generally successful although some students progressed further than others. Another successful project was using 3D to explain the representation of colors in computers. Though our findings are based on limited data, we offer our experiences in what worked and ways to improve what did not.  (slides)


Caryl Bigenho

Sugar! SoaS Brings This Sweet Educational Software To Almost Any Computer

When the One Laptop Per Child Foundation introduced its XO-1 laptop to the public by way of the Give One Get One program in 2007 it started a worldwide revolution in educational computing. But the cute little green and white machine wasn't the only thing they introduced that has had an important impact on netbooks and educational computing. Sugar, the software shipped with every XO laptop is a welcome addition to the world of open source software in education (OSSIE). It includes some of the already well known programs such as Scratch, Etoys (Squeak), and TurtleArt (Logo), but many others unique to Sugar. These programs, all open source, are constantly being updated and improved at both OLPC and Sugar Labs, their software spin-off. Realizing a need for more educational software to be made available for use on computers other than the XO, Sugar Labs began working with versions that could be used on other computers running from a usb stick, thus the name Sugar on a Stick (SoaS). This portable version of Sugar includes many of the Sugar programs not available elsewhere. Scratch and Etoys are not included because they can easily be downloaded from their websites. Since their first SoaS release two and a half years ago, code-named Strawberry and based on Fedora 11, they have gone through a total of six fruit-named versions. The current "flavor", code named "Pineapple," is version 6 and is based on Fedora 16. It is available for download from Sugar Labs and from the Fedora Project where it is named: "Discover. Reflect. Share. Learn." This session will explore how participants can get SoaS running on their own computers. We will also take an in-depth look at how to make use of some of the many Activities (programs) on SoaS.


Sebastian Dziallas

Undergraduate Education Strategies

FOSS world and academia operate on radically different schedules -- integrating the two together requires a lot of work. But it can be incredibly rewarding, to both parties. This session will articulate how all of us can work together to make these collaborations better -- and more often. Finally, I'll report the latest results from the POSSE workshop that happened this summer, and that's been submitted in an intensive-version on this conference as well. Join us for the revolution!


Sebastian Dziallas

POSSE intensive -- a cultural immersion workshop

POSSE (Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience) is a one-week bootcamp initially designed in 2009 for university professors who needed to learn the workings of the world they were about to plunge their students into. See http://opensource.com/education/10/9/open-source-education-educators for more details on the original workshop. Since then, we’ve run it in 3 continents for faculty from institutions ranging from small liberal arts schools to large public universities to selective technical colleges, and from disciplines covering everything from CS and electrical engineering to journalism and technical writing. POSSE alumni have met with success, engaging their students in marketing, interface design, and more – directly in the project communities they’ve chosen to work with. In order to bring these opportunities to a wider audience, we’ve distilled the POSSE curriculum into a half-day intensive. This mini-POSSE is focused on basic communication skills and tools that will allow you to learn “the open source way” by navigating actual project communties – the equivalent of a traveler’s phrasebook for a foreign land. In this workshop, you will be expected to dive into actual open source project chatrooms, code, writing, design, and infrastructure and work with contributors from that community who you have never met before and who do not know that you’ll be coming, because that’s often how it will be when you’re contributing there on your own. You will be pushed outside your comfort zone, but you will also have the in-person guidance of experienced mentors who will – in real-time – annotate and explain the methods behind the madness you’re encountering, and help you learn how to navigate this new world yourself. Attendees who enjoy the workshop and wish to proceed with their learning can utilize follow-up open content modules that will be released this summer. This long-distance, study-at-your-own-pace version of the remainder of the POSSE curriculum is not focused on tool-learning and book exercises, but rather on continuing to get you engaged in conversation and collaboration with actual open source communities you may want to work with. We highly recommend participation in this in-person workshop for those thinking about utilizing the remote modules described at http://teachingopensource.org/index.php/POSSE_modules (currently under development by the Teaching Open Source community).


Elizabeth Krumbach

Bringing Linux into Public Schools and Community Centers

Volunteers with the San Francisco Bay Area non-profit Partimus have been working to put Linux and other F/OSS software into area schools. Getting into schools is one of the biggest hurdles for anyone looking to bring F/OSS into education and can often be an insurmountable one, so the first suggestion will be that if the goal is to spread Linux and F/OSS in education is to start with an adult learning center, after school program or similar organization in the area. Partimus itself benefits from an enthusiastic, outgoing leader who took the time to make connections with schools and volunteers in the area and made involvement in one public charter schools into involvement with several programs and schools.

Once in a school the organization has to come up with solutions that will not only meet the needs of students, teachers and staff, but be maintainable, work with the existing IT infrastructure and have the ability to scale with developing needs of the school, so the use of a PXE boot server, custom ISOs, OpenLDAP, proxy services and local repositories which we document in the Partimus "School Lab in a Box" document will be covered. Beyond the technological challenges comes working with teachers who are frequently over-worked and don't have time for ticketing systems or reaching out to volunteers when there are problems with the systems.

Partimus has had to employ the talents of individuals who would not necessarily consider themselves highly technical to meet with teachers to frequently discuss their needs and challenges and then organize the appropriate training or instruction for programs and tools that the teachers have a need for.

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