[Linux-aus] [Grant Application] IWS-Hackathon 2017

Jonathan Woithe jwoithe at just42.net
Sat Oct 21 12:00:47 AEDT 2017

Hi all

I'm aware that responses to this application were due a day ago and
that therefore what follows might be moot.  Apologies for this.

On Fri, Oct 06, 2017 at 02:20:31AM +1000, Mike Imelfort via linux-aus wrote:
> The IWS was developed at Kimberley Park State School to teach primary
> school students STEM concepts. Students can write new code for the IWS
> using Scratch or python to modify it's functionality or add entirely new
> sensors and create something awesome. Two of our organisers have spent the
> past 12 months working with students in class and they???re having great
> results. Now we???d like to help other schools make use of and improve on our
> work.
> :
> We need lesson plans that integrate well with existing curriculum
> requirements and can easily be adapted for different classroom environments
> and IWS setups. So we???ve invited primary and secondary school teachers
> along to help us get started and hopefully join us on the journey.
> Our goal is to start producing an open, freely available toolkit for the
> IWS that includes teacher instruction, connections to the Australian
> Curriculum, assessment and extension opportunities.
> We want to empower participants to create a shared portfolio of ideas
> around a wide variety of topics including where the IWS fits into the
> curriculum, what lesson plans will look like, how assessment will work,
> how to physically install an IWS in a classroom or school and how to
> extend students using the IWS.

The aims of this hackathon are exactly the sort of thing the FOSS community
needs to do if they are to encourage the adoption of more FOSS technologies
into the education sector.  Education conferences and seminars are
frequently saturated with proprietary hardware and software with the vendors
spending significant amounts of money to promote them as a turnkey solution
to whatever educational problem they've turned their mind towards.  From the
perspective of attending teachers, this results in a perception that all the
hard work is done, everything's ready to do and all that's needed is to be
trained in the new system.  Of course the vendors offer extensive training
as well - for a cost.  Products and services presented in this way appeal to
teachers because many of them are time-poor due to increased administrative
workloads being placed on them: they simply don't have the time to take an
idea and develop lesson plans and ideas around it.

It is very hard for FOSS to compete with this mostly because we lack the
financial backing of the commercial players in this space.  There are many
excellent examples of FOSS being used in primary and secondary education,
but in most cases this is the result of a staff member being already being
enthusiastic about FOSS and the benefits it offers.  The problem is that too
often that person doesn't have the energy or resources to take it to the
next level: to develop their concept into something that other teachers
would be comfortable taking on.

The description of the IWS Hackathon appears to be a genuine and
enthusiastic effort to make the IWS program more widely accessible.  It is
based on open hardware and software and as such I think it is something LA
should support via our grants program.

> Small teams of three or four teachers will work to create one or more
> lesson plans that use the IWS, include links to the Australian Curriculum
> and fit with a theme of work that students would typically work with
> throughout the year (e.g. the water cycle). All lesson plans will be
> uploaded to instructables (so anyone can use them) and any other supporting
> material will be hosted on Github or on http://iws-hackathon.org.

Involving teachers in the process is a very good idea.  The IWS is also
something which can tie into many curriculum areas: not only is there the
STEM component, but the water cycle link leads to conservation topics such
as not overwatering, and so on.

> Our immediate goals are hold the first IWS hackathon where we aim to:
> :

All goals appear to be in step with LA's aims.

>   -  We are holding the event in Logan, so we will endeavour to include
> schools whose students are representative of the communities that live in
> Logan.

I don't think there's a problem with the localised nature of this hackathon. 
If the aims are achieved it would be possible for others to utilise the
material produced and spread the community that way.  In many respects the
IWS hackathon is a springboard, laying the foundation to make adoption by
others easier no matter where they are.

> How LA can help:
> We???d like to ask you to consider three possible grant amounts ranging from
> the minimum amount that would be needed to run the proposed event, up to an
> amount that would allow us to run the event comfortably.
> $1000 would be split as $400 to help with catering + $600 (4 IWS
> controllers to give away)
> $1600 would be split as $400 to help with catering + $1200 (8 IWS
> controllers to give away)
> $2170 would be split as $900 to help with catering + $1200 (8 IWS
> controllers to give away) + $70 for stationary.

In my opinion any of these suggested amounts could be justified.  The
appropriate choice would be reached by consensus with reference to the
bigger picture of the LA grant pool and possible applicants for it.

To summarise, I think LA should support the IWS hackathon grant request.


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