Archive for the ‘EdTech’ Category
Late last week I had the opportunity to check in with RIT to see how student projects were coming along. To my surprise, the Fortune Hunter team has plans to push out a release by the end of the year. But to do that, they recognize that they need to push development beyond the borders of RIT and actively recruit from the FOSS community as a whole.
First, I should say that Fortune Hunter is a dungeon scenario role playing game where players navigate a series of rooms, collect items and battle various creatures by solving math problems.
Though I’d have to say that one of my favorite concepts in the game is the shop. The idea is that if the player wants to barter for special items they must deal with the shopkeeper in a realistic manner. Offer too little money and you’ll get snubbed. Offer too much and the shopkeeper will gladly take the money and use it against you later on.
So what does the Fortune Hunter team need? Truthfully they need Artists and Pythonistas who can elevate the code quality. Jon writes -
What would actually be extremely helpful would be some programmers. Currently, the team is lacking any experts in that realm and to be honest, they would probably save us a whole lot of time and help us progress much further to push and get more done.
Jon compiled a short list of needs and promised that there would be more organization to the project to help new contributors and the project reach it’s release goal.
If you, or someone you know could help get this release out, please don’t hesitate to contact Jon and the team. You can get details in the Fortune Hunter wiki and you can get copies of the game in the GIT repo if you’d like to test the game and Fortune Maker engine.
This morning I received my speakers packet for the Free Software and Open Source Symposium taking place at Seneca College in Toronto in a couple of weeks.
For those of you feeling the vacuum that the Ontario GNU/Linux Fest left, this might be a good alternative for you.
Just be aware that early-bird registration ends October 8 and it’s a significant discount. Especially for Students!
As far as the feel of the two conferences…. I won’t pretend that OGLF and FSOSS occupied the same niche, because they always catered to a slightly diffrent audiences. OGLF was more of a user conference and FSOSS is geared at academic use and leading edge development.
That’s not to say that all the topics covered at Seneca are advanced, or that topics at OGLF didn’t meet the needs of hard-core hackers. It’s just that the topics are focused on a slightly different area of the spectrum that is Open Source.
In any case, if you’re looking for a nice little conference in a great city, I’d highly recommend registering for FSOSS.
For those who are interested in the slide deck, I’ve uploaded them to the Fedora Wiki.
As you can see from this picture it has girl-y goodness through out. Why so girl-y for this talk? It has nothing to do with the topic. It’s not from a girl point of view, or for any other psychological reason. I just liked it and never use the same background twice. Each presentation is Unique. So watch for the next upload for something new to look at.
List of embedded links are below for ease of clicking. And feel free to leave comments below if you have questions about the presentation.
On general community Etiquette
This morning I was able to attend the first session of RIT’s Humanitarian FOSS class.
As some of you know, the class has been running since Spring of 2009, but this time around it seemed like a much better start than we’ve had over the previous quarters the class is run.
While I’d like to point you to the one thing that has me feeling more positive about the course, the truth is, there isn’t one thing.
Instead, it’s lots of little things that have morphed into what looks like it’s going to be a well oiled machine. Of course I know that won’t be the case because there will be things to work on no matter how well the class goes.
But still, I walked away feeling really positive and energized about this quarters syllabus and the students in the class. I’m really psyched about the newly regrouped Pythonistas and Rochester OLPC user group being combined to better support the class.
Next Tuesday I’ll be giving a short guest lecture on FOSS Community mores. It will cover some basics like using IRC and what we feel is effective communication. I’ve also been asked to work “How to tell if a FLOSS project is doomed to FAIL” into the slides as well.
I’ll post my slides when I get them done, so watch for those on the TOS wiki.
As you may recall, I’ve been taking an XO to my son’s first grade class on Wednesday mornings. The record activity has been extremely popular and Mrs. Richmond asked if she could show the pictures at Open House tonight.
Of course I said yes, but did one better and offered to make discs for everyone in the class so they could all have a copy.
The best part is, that even with all 200+ pictures the students have taken, there would still be hundreds of megs of space left on the discs…. Also known as plenty of space to include a Sugar Spin. (for this disc we used the current version of SoaS but applied it to optical media instead of Solid State)
So while the families might also be getting the pictures of their children, they’re also getting a chance to use some open source software at home.
I did include this letter (Click to see a larger version) covering the very basics. Although it might not totally explain the Live CD I hope the combination of the children being famililar with the Sugar environment and the vagueness of what they’re getting will get a few families exploring Open Source Educational Technologies.
Yesterday, RIT hosted Richard Stallman and I have to say it was not nearly as odd as I had set myself up for.
The main issue is that RMS’s reputation as a bit of an eccentric precedes him and that can be a bit of a turn off even for those of us who are somewhat familiar with the whole idea of freedom in computing.
Though to be fair to those who are thinking – “Not odd, then why is that the only picture you have of him?” The image you’re seeing here is the Emacs Saint costume that was brought out at the end.
There was video taken of the event and I’m tracking down when and where it will be made available for everyone to see.
For me the best part of the talk was that there seemed to be a fairly diverse crowd. Those, like myself, who are already familar with the ideas of GNU and Libre software and those who were brand new to the ideas presented.
He even covered all the goodies like students getting access to low/no cost Proprietary software. Because it’s like your first hit of crack being free and making you pay once you’re hooked.
All in all it was a very good talk and I’m sure it hit home with many of the students and staff in attendance. I also hope that it will be the begining of even more free software development and usage at RIT.
Since my son will be home from school shortly and I have an errand to run this afternoon, I’ll talk a little bit about my dinner with Stallman in a Part 2 post.
Every Wednesday morning, I volunteer in my son’s first grade class. You could describe my duties as crowd control. As Mrs. Richmond works with small groups of children on their reading skills, I’m keeping an eye on everyone else.
Some children are writing in their journals. Others are working on handwriting or reading along to a picture book at the CD player. 3 kids also get to go to the computers.
Problem is, only 2 of the Macs in the room are working properly. The 3rd just won’t boot and I don’t know enough about them to trouble shoot. Plus the School’s IT department probably wouldn’t be too happy with me if I did.
A few months ago I came to school with an XO laptop so when 3 kids were working in that “Center” they could use a computer if they wanted to.
As you can imagine, the XO has been a big hit in the classroom. We started out playing Speak, but the kids have been exploring and have also discovered the Record Activity and I’ve finally managed to get at the pictures.
Why have I “Finally Managed?” Well because it was a giant PITA to get the pictures off the XO.
You can use Flickr’s basic uploader to capture 6 images at a time. Fine if there were just a few, but with 180+ images on the XO and most of them named “Photo by Karlie” it was more than a waste of time trying that route.
Method 2 was plugging in a USB or SD card and moving the files. Equally painful especially since keeping track of which “Photo by Karlie” was moved and every image transferred was appended with an underscore and series of numbers. How’s that bad? Well the 15th image I moved was appended with _1_2_3_4_5_6_7_8_9_10_11_12_13_14_15
Method 3 was right up there with knowing the secret handshake. Lucky for me, Mel Chua is in the club and showed us where to grab every file from the XO’s Journal. It’s /home/olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store in case you’re wondering. But you’ll still need to use the terminal to transfer the files.
This method still had it’s draw backs, but turned out to be the least annoying.
For one, every file has a seemingly random name assigned to it and no extension to sort by. However, once the files were transferred to USB, Fedora was smart enough to see pictures even though none had .png or.jpg extension.
To upload to Flickr though, they’d all need their appropriate extension. Easy enough to fix, but again, so down right annoying that you’d even have to include this step. While I’m told you can do a batch update, I hate the terminal so it was faster for me to ctrl+v .jpg and rename the files one by one (vs learning the commands).
The good news – It’s official – RMS will be at RIT on Tuesday, February 23 from 10:30-12:30 am.
“Richard Stallman will speak about the goals and philosophy of the Free Software Movement, and the status and history of the GNU operating system, which in combination with the kernel Linux (sic) is now used by tens of millions of users world-wide.”
Click on the image to the right to see a larger version. You can also download a PDF version of the flier.
The bad news – his talk will be in the Innovations Center and it’s going to fill to capacity before 200 people get in the door.
I asked and was told that they will be setting up video in other rooms, but I’m going to suggest you contact RIT and ask them to find a bigger space and/or stream the talk live.
I would also suggest that you not let the space limitations and time of day stop you from making plans to attend or prevent you tweeting, forwarding, etc to anyone you think might want to attend.
I made it to class last night and lucky for me, I was able to catch some project updates.
They all seem to be coming along and are starting to get in the groove. Though I still had to remind them that while everyone loves how well RIT does a wiki page, they still need to put themselves out there a bit more. Although I didn’t see it until this morning, there was a mailing list post and a reply before we left class. (More please!)
We also showed his video.
I first saw it when Greg DeKoenigsberg posted it on Facebook, and was instantly taken with it and suggested it be shown in class. It’s such a great way to show the development process. It’s humble beginnings, contributors fading away and explosive growth when they switched from CVS to GIT repos.
It’s sort of a crash course in FOSS community and project development. It showed in a little less than 4 minutes what I’ve been struggling to articulate in the past 3 quarters I’ve helped with the course.