I was running a little late due to the magnetic lure of the hallway track, but did manage to sit down and be totally inspired by Mark Osborne, Deputy Principal of Albany Senior High School. They've chosen to use Free and Open Source Software throughout the school because it matches the learning philosophy and ethos they're trying to develop. This is a new school, doing things differently, and whilst many are saying Mark's mission is a brave one, from my perspective it just seems natural. I'm very much looking forward to staying tuned to their new frequency.
Maksim Lim spoke about the Art Education program at the National Gallery of Victoria and their choice to use Open Standards and Open Tools to create and deliver online resources, and the impact of working directly with students and teachers. I found this very interesting, and hope to catch up with Maksim in Melbourne to learn more.
Next up was Walter Bender, skyping it in, but continuing to inspire and provoke. The sugarlabs project simply blows my mind. Walter demonstrated a matching game where he showed the power of demonstrating concepts through comparison. But then he took it a step further and showed us how to modify that game, and add in Mayan mathematics. I'm newly inspired to dig out my OLPC, fire up Sugar on a Stick, and get into it again. See Walter's slides on slideshare
The New Zealand volunteers then followed up by providing handouts to help us start hacking on the code ourselves.
I came back after lunch to hear from Chris Cormack about the Koha Integrated Library System . This project has been around for a while now, and has survived some governance ups and downs to prove the resilience of making source code available under an open license. Community development, and management is important, but the freedom to use and modify the code is the ultimate insurance. Koha has made some impressive strides. I'm surprised it's not more widely used in Australian schools. I'll be spreading the word to try and change that.''
I was really keen to hear more about IBMs kidsmart project from Carl Klitscher and hear about how they're using open source apps on a windows platform, and the training and pedagogy discoveries they've made over the past six years.
Software Engineering using FOSS tools and community. Much of what Ashley covered was later mirrord by Dr Tridgell and Bob Edwards in the main conference. This is an important area for the future of software development, and FOSS community development.
I think I hit brain meltdown shortly after the start of the moodle features workshop and didn't get much out of it or the rest of the afternoon. Which is a shame. Whilst the Mahara session probably would have gone over my head anyway, as it was squarely aimed at developers, I am very sorry to have missed Jacinta Richardson's session on Structuring a multi-day training course, so perhaps I'll have to convince her to re-present it at one of the many Melbourne geek gatherings we frequent. The final session of the day by John Graves was on voice and vision interaction for educational applications.
Tabitha - you did an amazing job. What a great day.
The education miniconf is a perennial favourite at linux.conf.au - which heads to Brisbane in 2011 - so if you're a passionate educator doing great stuff with Free and Open Source Software you might want to think about putting this in your diary. It's an unparalleled opportunity to meet with and share with your peers, and with the developers of your favourite tools.