[Linux-aus] Getting FOSS into schools

Donna Benjamin donna at cc.com.au
Wed May 16 09:59:45 EST 2012

Not so long ago FOSS was deemed unacceptable in Victorian Gov schools.
In 2012, there are a number of FOSS applications available on the
government designed and approved disk image called "edustar"

Audacity, GeoGabra, Gimpshop, Inkscape, Stellarium, TuxMaths, Scratch,


Open Source Programming languages such as Perl, PHP, Python & Ruby are
also approved for use in the VCE Software Development course.

Unfortunately, due to a wickedly successful long term partnership
between the dept of ed, the vic IT teachers asn and Microsoft most
senior IT teachers in VIC teach VB. The partnership offered free
training to teachers on how to use visual basic, along with free copies
of the visual basic software package for themselves, and their students.
Msoft also now makes VBexpress available for free to all. Although that
wasn't the case when that initiative began.

In 2006, at the LCA education miniconf, we realised there were very few
teachers present.  To talk to teachers about open source, we needed to
go to their conferences. I've been doing that every year since, and I'm
currently treasurer of ICT in Education Victoria - constantly advocating
for the place of open source in education on the board of one of
Victoria's relevant education bodies.

When you say "We should do more" what do you actually mean?

OLPC may have it's detractors, but I think it's a game changer. It's a
brilliant project.  

Raspberry Pi and Arduino are also brilliant projects.

Using FOSS apps on windows is great.  

Encouraging students to use open source programming tools is great.

What's lacking here is not good will and intent, and options, and
success stories but an over-arching strategy, and the time and resources
to implement it.

Having a stall at $edutechshow is effectively a waste of time and money
without a coordinated plan for following up, and an ongoing program of
activity and promotion.

And most of all... an education focussed reason for using FOSS.  How
does FOSS enhance learning? How does it assist busy, tired, overburdened
teachers to better do their jobs?

Donna Benjamin - Executive Director
Creative Contingencies - http://cc.com.au
ph +61 3 9326 9985 - mob +61 418 310 414

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