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FUDCon Toronto Follow-up. Day 2

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My Sunday started off without too much in the way of expectations. I had hoped my family would be able to join me in Toronto, so I only booked my hotel for 2 nights. Even though the guys weren’t with me, there’s not a whole lot for me to do in hack sessions so I wasn’t planning on staying long.

The first and most important thing I had to do Sunday was find out how Remy was getting back to Rochester. We drove up together and he wanted to stay for the hack sessions.

I was also invited to attend a meeting about the Fedora Campus Ambassador program.

The bummer was waiting around for Remy and the meeting to kick off. Remy had a late night in the hotel hack suite so he didn’t arrive until late morning and the meeting I was invited to didn’t get rolling until early afternoon.

Now don’t get me wrong, I did have some good conversations with the guys, but for the most part, I spent the time clearing my email and doing show and tell with my XO running Xtra Ordinary. I will admit that it’s pretty impressive that an XO-1 machine can power an OpenOffice.org Impress presentation – even if it is on that tiny little screen.

With Remy squared away the only thing left was the Campus Ambassador meeting.

What we figured out is that there aren’t any stated goals, and as a result there isn’t any significant activity in the program.

So what do we want to do about it? Good question.

First off, I think we still need to state some goals and for that we’ll need input from Fedora and Red Hat as to what outcomes they’re hoping for. Is it market penetration by way of installs? Is it measured in presentations per month? Or can it be anything we want it to be as long as it involves engaging with university students and faculty?

Knowing that I had to leave as soon as the 3:30 pizza delivery arrived, we didn’t get very far.

The key points I had in my moleskin were…
1, If we can get people started, do we have mentors?
2, Can we come up with suggested activities, presentations and SWAG offerings to get these new folks rolling?

Key points to question 1 are; Do students find us, or do we find the students? Both? Does the campus ambassador need to be a student? Is it possible to ask current ambassadors to hit campuses near them to get things started or should we try other ways to spur interest?

For question 2, I think we all felt a little more confident that we could update the wiki and provide collateral materials.

Suggestions included;

  • Sponsoring meetings. As in we pay for Pizza to encourage attendance at existing campus meetings.
  • Presentation templates. Stock presentations covering basics like what is Linux and Open Source, the Fedora Project through possibly more advanced topics. (As I write this I’m suggesting we have a way for community members to request help with presentations to pool resources from the Fedora Project when the topic doesn’t exist. )
  • Activity suggestions – Some could simply be for fun, while others could be outlines to follow for pre-planning specific events. Launch Parties, Install Fests, Software Freedom Day, or others.
  • SWAG so that there’s a little something extra for participants of the above.

So my goal right now is to begin thinking about what suggestions I can add to the wiki. I’m sure we’ll have another meeting sometime soon and I’ll update you as to what we come up with.

Till then,
~Karlie

Written by Karlie

December 8th, 2009 at 9:32 am

FUDCon Toronto Follow-up. Day 1

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Like a lot of this year’s FUDCon participants, I haven’t been writing much. Heck, I didn’t get more than a couple of dents and tweets out, but that’s ok because we were face to face for a change.

We got started Saturday morning at Seneca@York with an unconfrence/barcamp style pitches.

Right after lunch, Remy DeCausemaker and I did a joint presentation covering the class we’re involved with at RIT.

I kicked things off with the presentation (download) I did for the Ontario GNU Linux Fest a few weeks ago. I didn’t quite fill the 50 minutes at OGLF, and I managed to whip through all of them in about 20 minutes on Saturday.

Then Remy brought us up to speed on how he got involved with the class and how his new position as a fellow at RIT fits with his ongoing work with organizations such as the Sunlight Foundation.

We then tag-teamed questions from the group. Everything from gaining a foothold in universities, to the kids getting excused from class on Tuesday if they attend Remy’s upcoming Hack-a-thon.

The rest of the day was full of Fedora goodness and most of the presentations, Including Paul Frields‘ keynote should find their way to the Fedora wiki.

After the keynote, we all made our way to Dave and Buster’s. I had never heard of the place, but I liked it. If you haven’t been, it reminded me of a grown-ups Chuck E Cheese.

On my way back to my hotel, I was passed by a police car… Then an emergency truck, then a fire truck… “Must be an accident somewhere” I mused to myself.

However, all 3 turn on Wilson Ave… in the direction of my hotel.

Why yes, there was a fire truck parked in the driveway when I arrived moments later.

It was only a dryer fire and I was able to get into my room about 30 minutes later.

I’ll cover Sunday’s hack fests in my next post so look for day 2 soon.

~Karlie

Written by Karlie

December 7th, 2009 at 8:29 am

NYSCATE 2009 – Bringing Open Source to Education

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NYSCATE 2009 was, in my opinion, a big success. At least as far as short notice, first-time-out, events go.

We had lots of SWAG, thanks to everyone’s help. Even some more last minute Fedora SWAG by way of Charles Proffitt. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Mike Lee. Not sure why I didn’t mention him in the last post, but he did send some print collateral ideas. It was his email that gave me the graphical layout for the Sugar Spin discs we printed and burned for the booth.

So Mike, and Chas – Thank you again.

Now as far as the action in the booth, Monday was a much busier day than Tuesday. We gave out lots of Sugar Spins and lots of openSUSE Edu Li-F-E discs.

Of course the topic of Sugar on a Stick, getting involved, Freedom and free downloads were covered over and over again. All good stuff and I don’t think explaining it ever gets old for me. In fact, when I left at 2:30 on Tuesday, my voice was hoarse.

The OLPC XO-1 laptops were such a big hit and I knew they would be. After all, when you have educators, and an education tool, what would you expect?

One thing I didn’t expect was that about 10% of the booth visitors thought it was a toy and/or hadn’t heard of OLPC. So it’s a good thing they stopped by so we could introduce the possibility of truly open and interactive learning.

On the other hand, those who were familiar (having at least heard of OLPC), only a few had ever seen one in person.

The very few folks I spoke with who knew lots about OLPC commented that they still weren’t sure how to introduce the learning environment into their schools or lessons.

Almost no one knew about Sugar on a Stick as an inexpensive alternative to an XO deployment. (and yes, I’ll give them that one, as SoaS is still a fairly new concept)

In contrast, almost everyone I spoke to at Ontario GNU Linux Fest knew of OLPC and seen an XO in person.

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a big red flag here.

We should all be wondering why this knowledge gap between FOSS and Edu has formed. Is it because bunch of geeks, hell-bent of freedom and open communications are avoiding local conversations about topics that would have a positive effect on the children in their community?

I might be wrong, but that may be more than a rhetorical question.

In my opinion, by staying in our own geek community, no matter how international that may be, and rarely taking FOSS into the local community it seems we’re being counter productive. I’m not sure if it’s fear of being too geeky for the average citizen, or what. Regardless of the reasons, I’m now seeing that it’s an area that should be addressed.

Now to get off my soap box and walk the walk, here are two examples of how I’m trying to bridge gaps locally.

First I offered to help a rural school district in Wayne County NY hold an install fest. I’ve even gone so far as to say I’d help find computers to install Linux and FOSS applications on. Why? Because the 2 teachers I met with casually mentioned that they have children without access to basic word processing at home. (Lucky for me, Chas Proffitt is also the meeting coordinator for the LUG of Rochester and we had a chance to talk about volunteers from the LUG to help should this get rolling)

How big of an impact could we have by installing Linux on a few “EOL” computers? I don’t know yet, but the digital divide doesn’t need to exist when Puppy Linux and other light/fast Linux distros can bring 10 year old computers back to life.

Second, and high on my list, is the opportunity to reproduce the RIT class at a local Catholic High School. The school’s Director of Technology told me he bought an XO through Give one Get one, but hasn’t seen too much excitement in the school yet. He also told me there’s a desire to do more computer science type classes. Can you see how I was starting to get excited as we spoke? I love it when two problems can be addressed with a single solution.

And yes, of course I’ll post an update if there is more to report as a result of my time at NYSCATE.

That’s all for now,
~Karlie

Written by Karlie

November 24th, 2009 at 1:11 pm