A summary of the Open source for Education in Europe conference

Back
with a very good feeling from the NL, where the first Open source for
Education in Europe
conference took place.

I got my hands full of little goodies to bring home. I picked up a few TheOpenCDs to
bring home for Christmas, a Kubuntu
installation Cd, and brochures produced by OSS Watch, which is a Free
and
Open Source advisory service for UK higher and further education. Some
good advisory policies have been produced by OSS Watch, such as Developing
University Policies That Engage with Open Source Software
, and Policy
on Open Source Software for JISC Projects and Services
.  You
can find Stuart
Yeates
paper on this, I guess slides will be available later on the
conference site.

Other interesting things that I had a chance to see:

  • Of course, check out Stephen
    Downes’
    presentation about his vision
    that he calls Metauniversity (he also called it Metaversity, I think
    combining meta-level and diversity). Open Learning
    and the Metauniversity
    , PPT Slides 
    and the MP3
    Audio
    .

    Mr. Downes talked about a concept for an information architecture, that
    could comply with the vision of M.Feldstein 
    “we need a system that is
    optimeised toward slotting in new pieces as they become available, not
    as an after-though or an add-on, but as a fundamental characteristic of
    the system…”. Neat, many good concepts, maybe this will work as a roudmap to inspire people to see further than tomorrow.

  • My talk about Anticipating
    Round 2 of the EU Software patents
    battle took
    place on the second day.  Maybe one third of the audience was aware about the issue,
    so I had been asked to be pretty introductory about what software
    patents are, what is the current legislation in EU, and speculating how
    software patents could potentially
    hinder ICT in education
    . Slides will be available at the conference
    site later. I made a great impression (?) on the audience by stripping my
    jacket and showing off my "No Software Patents-Power to the Parliament"
    tee-shirt 😉 You can view a picture of that and the other pictures from the conference at vermario’s gallery.
  • tOSSad project was also interesting. It’s yet another EU-founded
    project and the acronym stands for Towards Open source Software,
    Adoption and Dissemination. That is what the project is about, really.
    Check the site.
  • About the presentations in workshops, I must say that I didn’t
    follow many. However, some are worth checking out, like this one: Using
    IMAP to Build a Virtual Learning Environment.
    It’s good that
    people think out of the box!
  • To get an overview about what some Educational authorities and
    Ministries of Education are doing in Europe to promote the use of FOSS,
    you can find a paper
    by Karl Sarnow and me.

There were tons of other good stuff too, but you have to check it out
for yourselves on the programme.
Everything is available under Creative Commons and the conference used
this nifty Open Conference Systems
to make papers available online.

In general I got the impression that the conference audience was half
programmers and other half  was comprised of people who have
interest in using FOSS in education. Quite a fruitful mix, and I hope
some other stuff will come out of this. At least the continuation for
the conference would be great!

Other than that a variety of things were recommended such as an award for the best open source educational
software
, this would raise awareness and by submitting products
to the award, the community would also create a good state-of-the-art repertory.
Also, a Yearbook idea was
discussed listing most interesting FOSS in education projects in
different fields and areas.

The preemptive position paper against
EU software patents
idea got good reception at the conference.
We had a workshop about how to get going and many good ideas were
discussed. The timeline to get the arguments ready is by Dec 15, and at
the new year we will start campaigning about getting signatures,
spreading the word, etc. The minutes will be available also soon, watch
this space!

Some other people have posted on their blogs about the conference,

<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/eusoftpat&quot; rel="tag">softpat</a>
<p></p>

9 thoughts on “A summary of the Open source for Education in Europe conference

  1. Hi Riina, I just wanted to warn you that it looks like the link for the image you linked is mispelled… shall I put it somewhere else?

    Like

  2. Hi there, I don't know, it shows well in the editing window before publishing, so I don't know what is the problem. I will try to find out, thanks!

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  3. Riina, Thank you for the great report. What I am a little worried is the "sustainability" of all this. Who will continue the work when the Commission funded projects are over? And this is not to say that there is anything wrong with the projects. I am sure people in the project are thinking about it, too. But, was there any discussion to establish permanent, National or European, institutions that will promote use of open source in education? Was there any representatives of civil society / NGO’s working in the field? Anyone from e.g.: http://www.ofset.org/ http://fsub.schule.de/ http://www.opensourcefinland.org/http://www.linuxdidattica.org/… I am afraid that people like me (including the organizers of the conference) are not necessary the pioneers in the field but those who "jump to the bandwagon" in the right moment to get funding. To get the best return for the investment we should support the pioneers and not to kidnap the movement from them.

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  4. Hi Riina, thank you for this excellent post about the conference. I should have been there, but unfortunately I was not able to come. I just want to ask you if it is ok that I put your post up on our Icelandic blog about open source in education, site is http://www.samkoma.net/foss

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  5. Hi – thanks to Riina for her blog and to the people who have relied. I am one of the organisers.As for jumping on the bandwagon – we applied for this project some three years ago now when I suppose the bandwagon was not rolling quite so fast. Most of our work has been trying to provide information on OSS and developing a forum for developers and educationaists to talk to each other. In tahtw ay wed think sustainibility is an issue of community building – not organisations as such.But yes – we and other people are of coures interested in how beeter to develop and suatin that community and all ideas will be welcome.We are also exploring teh possibilities for continuing teh conference next year.Personally I think it would be very good if we coudl bring togther teh fifferent projects dealing with OSS and try to build on the results collectivelybest wishesGraham

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  6. Hi Teemu,You are absolutely right about that, and the good news is that many of the participants were actually from the vivid developers communities presenting stuff like Skolelinux (only one that I can remember…). But you got the point, though, many people who presented papers are academics, etc, who are comfortable with the process of sending abstracts for call of papers, have travel founds and such. I hope that some balance could be found where both would benefit from one another. To my knowledge no sustainable plans were made, as the mentality is much about from project to project…*R

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