Open education at Ubuntu Live

Yesterday I presented on ‘Open Sourcing Education in South Africa’ at the Ubuntu Live conference in Portland. The main idea was to start making links between that Shuttleworth Foundation and the Ubuntu community. I also wanted to test out some language from the Foundation’s emerging theory of change. Some quick learnings:

Learning #1: the ‘creating a new generation of innovators and leaders’ topline messaging from the theory of change is working well. It helps people quickly understand what the Foundation is striving towards, and also that it is primarily focused on South Africa. The link between this goal and the program areas (education, telecom and intellectual property) is tougher for people. And, the link to the Foundation’s values (open, collaborative, leveraged) is even tougher. We need to push a bit harder to make these links clearer and more compelling. Then we’ll have sparks flying.

Learning #2: I also tried out some language around an ‘ecosystem approach’ to open sourcing education. Basically, I just showed the links between projects like TuxLabs, Free Textbooks, Kusasa and our open education networking efforts. People seemed to get this as well, which isn’t surprising given the fact that every keynote speaker talked about ‘open source ecosystems’. Anyways, the ecosystem metaphor did seem to be useful in helping people see how different initiatives supported by the Foundation connect.

Learning #3: geeks immediately get the Kusasa idea, which isn’t true with other audiences I’ve talked to. I gave a very high level picture of Kusasa’s plans to develop a way for students to learn analysis skills through computer programming and modeling. One guy made the link to efforts he’d championed to use logo in Indian schools. Another talked about the inventiveness – and the hacking around the educational system – that might emerge once students have a ‘learn and explore’. Once Kusasa takes off, there is likely an army of geeks in the Ubuntu world who would want to help it grow.

Possible link: It sounds like the Edubuntu project in Andalusia has a major component where students create educational content. It would be worth digging more on this to see if there is something here to link into the open educational content work that the Foundation is needed.

Overall, a useful first time out presenting about the Foundation, with good reflections on what to do better next time. You can grab the slides or listen to the audio file if you want to know what I said.

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