ADULT EDUCATION AND OPEN SOURCE CULTURE: THE OPEN-AE PILOTING IN ITALY

The first week of the free online training course on the FLOSS culture and open source tools organized by the Association Centro Studi Città di Foligno (CSF) as part of the European project Open-AE, funded by the European Erasmus programme, has just ended successfully. The project aims to promote access and learning through the use of open educational resources (OER). The aim is to promote Open Source technologies in the non-formal education sector to strengthen the training and professional skills of adult educators and learners.

 Among the activities foreseen by Open-AE, the implementation of a training course addressed to adult educators aimed at improving their skills and knowledge of technological tools and digital learning platforms is one of the key results.

CSF, Italian partner of the project, in order to face the difficulties related to the Covid-19 health emergency, has designed a course entirely online (Moodle Course and Webinars) to introduce and deepen innovative practices and the latest available technologies useful for adult education. The online course, lasting a total of two months, is addressed to adult professionals interested in deepening their knowledge and tools necessary to promote free and open education and training. The distance learning course organized by CSF has registered a strong interest throughout the Italian territory. To date, 192 people have enrolled in the course, coming from several national adult education centres (CPIA), Umbrian DigiPass and representatives of municipalities and around 100 are regularly attending live the webinars. The students have also the opportunity to watch the recorded video lessons thus allowing great flexibility.

 The training programme focuses on 7 modules that will accompany participants in exploring open source culture and free and open education and training.  After an introduction to the Open-AE Project and the Floss culture, participants will have the opportunity to test Scratch, an open-source programming language. On May 6th the Module focused on digital storytelling as a tool for strengthening adult skills will start.It will then move on to the management of online activities, through social media and WordPress, open source software designed for everyone, which emphasizes accessibility, performance, security, ease of use. May 26th, instead, will be the starting date of the Data Privacy Culture Module, which will offer subscribers an overview of the framework of the reference legislation on privacy. In June we will then move on to explore the open educational resources aimed at promoting the develop of a spirit of entrepreneurship. The latest online meetings will focus on the use of new Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technologies for adult education.

In these difficult days, the open and common education promoted by Open-AE seems to be the best response for the future innovation of the educational sector.

Webinar on Open Street maps

To celebrate ALL DIGITAL week the Open-Ae consortium held a webinar introducing a participatory activity that people can do to be engaged in a open-source movement.

Open Street maps was founded by Steve Coast in the UK in 2004. The basis for inspiration of Open Streets was the Wikipedia and concern about how prominent proprietary map data was growing around the world.  Now more than two million people are registered on open street maps. Some of the benefits of the map are how user driven they are. If something is missing on open street maps you can easily add it yourself, and the change is there instantly. OpenStreetMap emphasizes local knowledge. Open Street Maps works faster than google maps for example as the data added to open street maps does not need to be verified by a third party.

Cyclists and hikers enjoy using open street maps as the community sourced maps means public bike lanes, and hiking trails are more easily found. Areas of functional public interest like rest areas or free camp grounds which may not be commercial can be easily added to the map.

Of particular importance to the Open AE course is the use of Open data. Open data means you are free to use it for any purpose as long credit is made.

The webinar aimed to provide a quick introduction to open street maps. It showed how you can make edits in open streets maps, how you can actively map neighbourhoods or city ares using the aerial photography mode. Of particular importance are the user diaries. In the user diaries users can ask questions and see if items on the map are correct. Or they can also leave a note to another user letting them know that a new road may develop, or trail and when that is ready another user can add it. It is also possible to do this for public transportation routes.

Due to the covid-19 crisis some diary notes were left to try and use Open-Street Maps to provide support for local communities. There were notes encouraging people to update the contact information and location of essential services like schools so parents can maintain better contact with schools during the crisis.

Learning about Free and Open Source Software culture with Open Street Maps

To celebrate ALL DIGITAL week, the Open-AE consortium will host a online webinar on Open street maps. The webinar will give participants a chance to learn about free and open source software culture and practical ways which everyone can participate in free and open source software culture particularly by using open street maps.

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. It was created in 2004 inspired by wikipedia which crowdsources data which is made available under the Open Database License. There are around 2 million registered users of open street maps who collect data using manual survey, GPS devices and aerial photography.

The short one hour webinar will give a short introduction to open street maps and will teach users about:

  • How to see issues on Open street maps?
  • How to resolve issues on open street maps?
  • How to add your organisation or digital competence centre to Open Street Maps?

The webinar will take place on the 24th of March at 6pm. Sign up for the webinar on this link.

FOSDEM 2020

Why GPL is great for business? Customer are happier with fair options that avoid lock-ins.

The Free and Open Source Developers meeting in Brussels at the ULB Solbosch campus. It is a non-commercial, volunteer-organized European event centered on free and open-source software development. It is aimed at developers and anyone interested in the free and open-source software movement. It aims to enable developers to meet and to promote the awareness and use of free and open-source software.  FOSDEM is held annually, usually during the first weekend of February, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles Solbosch campus. It is a very large event which brings together over 8000 people in presence and tens of thousands more online. Open-AE was there was even managed to present their intiative at a Lightning talk. Prior to the FOSDEM event there is also a pre-FOSDEM event.

However outside of the Open-ae project presentation there were many great events and talk organised.

A lightning talk prior to the Open-AE presentation was on Linux desktops in Finnish schools. All students in Finland who complete their matriculation exams which are now delivered online must use Debian software and buy linux compatible hardware to take their final examination. While the martriculation exam software is still proprietary is does require free and open-source software to run.

Another interesting talk was on how GNU General Public License(GPL) a free, copyleft license is good for business. The talk by Frank Karlitschek gave an overview of the four freedoms, and how businesses can earn money while respecting these freedoms. The methods involved selling certificates and trademark use, selling services (like wordpress), selling merchandise, being funded through a foundation, voluntary donation, crowdsourcing, advertisements and delayed open source (where paying customers get the latest version). Karlitschek argued the best format for GPL as a business model was under support subscriptions which are provided by companies like red hat and nextcloud.

Pre-FOSDEM event organised by Open Forum Europe

The day before the biggest developers meeting in Europe, Open Forum Europe organises a pre-FOSDEM event.

The event gave an overview of how open source is being positioned in Europe. Welcoming remakrs from Pearse O’Donohue from DG CNECT gave a lot of an overview of policy. The new commission has two central priorities, the green new deal and the digital transformation, open source sotware and hardware overlap into both of these priorities and should be supported. He invited partners to the Next Generation Internet .  The NGI initiative respects the values of privacy, participation and human diversity.

Other presentation went on evaluating the growth of open-source In absolute numbers and as a market share. How Open source UK is developing a free and open source platform for health services.

Some interesting points from the various research presentations on open source. What was clear to one researcher was that open source is a very good way of developing skills and collaboration. In terms of training and education there is a lot that can be gained from participants in open source projects.

Interesting elements of discussion came up with regards to transparency legislation on open source had an overwhelming consensus from participants when it came to safety legislation. Panel speakers mentioned recently how there should have been more transparency and openness in the aerospace and automotive sector. With one noting, while he is not a fan of copyleft, but when it comes to automotive and aerospace safety it is a necessity. This necessity will get more interesting when AI gets in the mix. Currently the premise of safety regulation in automotive and aerospace is that code is deterministic, when errors in safety happen you can determine how it happens by tracing the code.

Open-AE at FOSDEM

The Open-AE project was presented at a lightning talk at the Free and open source developers meeting (FOSDEM) in Brussels. FOSDEM is an annual event that takes place at Université Libre Bruxelles (ULB). Regularly over 8000 attend the event which is entirely free with no registration.

Open-AE presented a lightning talk on Sunday 02022020. Florian Ruyment the pedagogical coordinator at Maks vzw and Pia Groenewolt, programme officer at ALL DIGITAL. Did the presentation going over the basic of the Open-AE of how it came about, what it is planning to achieve, its role at FOSDEM and its challenges. To be clear the Open-AE project started based on analysis the needs of ALL DIGITAL members. These members are training organisation working with users who are at the lower end of the basic skills. Trainers working in this field need more modular training resources to address specific needs to users, and in particular, modular training resources in free and open technologies and culture to better address the training needs of their end-users under-skilled adults.

FOSDEM was a great opportunity for the project to create a dialogue with developers and others working in the field of promoting digital inclusion using methods of Free and Open source software.

Open-AE partners meet in Geneva

The Open-AE consortium met together for the third time in Geneva. The purpose of this meeting was to finalise the Open-AE curriculum and toolkit. The meeting took place in Geneva hosted by Ynternet.org and coincided with the annual TEDx Geneva event of which Ynternet is an associate partner.  

The Open-AE project meeting pursued to deliver the aims of the project but also invite partners to take part in free and open-source culture. Partners came to Geneva a day early to attend at the TEDx Geneva event. The TEDx event is based on TED model (talks on Technology, Education, Design). TEDx events are talks done in the style of TED but are independent. Similar to TED the speakers must license their talks under creative commons 4.0.  The theme of the TEDx Geneva was on rethinking power.  In addition to the TED talk, partners had the chance to visit the ecovillage in Grandvaux for dinner. The ecovillage a project which Ynternet cooperates in.

The Open-AE project developed a curriculum to train efacilitators in free and open-source culture and programmes. The piloting of Open-AE will take place in Spring 2020 and efacilitators from organisations working to reskills and upskills unemployed and underemployed adults. At least 10 efacilitators from each piloting country (Belgium, Italy, Spain and Switzerland) will take part in a 60 hour course on using the open-ae toolkit and slide wiki platform.

The meeting in Geneva was hosted and organised by Ynternet.org. Founded in 1998, Ynternet.org is a Swiss foundation located in Geneva. Since the beginning we have been working to promote eCulture, namely good citizenship practices and digital literacy in the digital age. We are a team of experts, researchers and teachers, who are involved in training centers, international research and innovation programs, events (conferences, workshops, hackathons) and publications. With a strong Free license / software culture and online collaborative attitude, Ynternet.org have at its core values the knowledge sharing, digital native cultures, folksonomy, wikinomy and online collaboration. We are a research and education center promotingan efficient and ethical use of the technology, while having a responsible behaviour in the digital environment.

Workshop ‘How to move digital skills training from proprietary to open technology’

During the ALL DIGITAL Summit 2019, a few workshops were offered to participants, and one of them was “How to move digital skills training from proprietary technology to open technology”, facilitated by the Open-AE project partners Ynternet and COLECTIC.

The Open-AE project, “Open AE: Promote open source technologies in non-formal adult educa…” aims to train e-facilitators how to better integrate Free and Open Source technologies into their trainings for low skilled adults.

The workshop aimed to introduce the culture of free and open source software and understand the cultural discussion to facilitate it:

• FLOSS trends in Europe and the OPEN-AE curriculum
• FLOSS culture: Commons, Copyleft and free licenses
• Bridging the digital skills gap with FLOSS, challenges and way forward: collaboration, communication and FLOSS tools.

When working with free and open source technologies with new users, it is important to understand the experience and expectations of the user. Free and open source technologies often come with impressions from users, which may not match reality. Many users expect open source to be complex, that they may need IT skills equivalent of that of a programmer to use. It is important to understand these expectations and mitigate them. Free and open source technologies are more than just technology, platforms, software and hardware, there is a culture behind it which drives it, and there are more ways to take part in it than just software development.

The workshop used etherpad for collective notetaking. Etherpad manages how users can take notes, tracking who edited what, who wrote what, which makes tracking what is and needs to be written easier.

The first part of the discussion involved prompting participants to consider how free and open source technologies can be biased. Without any prompt to guide the discussion participants were invited to view a series of pictures and consider the statement that they provided. The purpose of this discussion was to consider the biases that exists in open software and free culture and invited the participants to consider the biases.

The second part of the discussion was a discussion on open education resources and how to apply them to benefit their community. The main message was that there are many ways to engage with open culture. It is important not to accept it with all the biases, but also consider how to change it and engage with the tools and open resources to benefit your community.

The workshop took place as part of the final event for the Digital Competences Development System (DCDS)project. The DCDS project developed framework that will provide the low-skilled adult European population with the basic digital and transversal competences needed for employment, personal development, social inclusion and active citizenship. The Open-AE project is mapped to DigCompEdu and can complete the DCDS project.

Get to know Maks vzw!

Maks  is composed of three services: Maks Digital encourages children, youth, adults and the elderly; to improve their digital skills. Maks Work coaches job seekers in their search for a job through individual counseling, group sessions, digital- and language courses. Maks Graphic provides training for long term unemployed in graphic design and generates qualitative graphic design services to clients from the (non)profit sector.

We are also training low educated job seekers on the work floor. This way, we are empowering them globally to promote a “wellbeing”, which will also enhance their chances on the labor market. Maks annually reaches about 2500 users, the vast majority from disadvantaged groups, including some 500 job seekers in counseling. Annually, about fifty people take their first steps with the computer. Maks also organizes fun and educational digital activities in schools to encourage children and youth to become producers of ICT rather than only consumers. We train youngsters on steam skills.

Maks recognizes the power of stories. Job seekers and other vulnerable target groups learn to make their own videos about their life story. We call this “digital storytelling”, an impact full process in which people learn to process and express a part of their story or a point of view on a significant experience. In the same way, we make video CVs with jobseekers, in which we teach job seekers how to convert their CV into a small movie. Through these various projects, young and old are confirmed in their self-esteem and learning capacities, which helps them to find their way in modern society and in the labor market.

What is the background of Maks vzw in open and free technologies?

Maks work culture and action strategies have always been in line with the values of the FLOSS culture: we favor the exchange of knowledge, collaboration and mutual support; based on the resources and motivations of its active members. MAKS already uses FLOSS tools (for example: Arduino, Scratch, WordPress,…) but this is not yet a conscious and assumed choice by the whole organization. We are taking advantage of the OPEN AE project to create internally a shared, motivated and justified position for the promotion of FLOSS tools in our digital inclusion activities.

 We have two Digital Public Spaces. DPS is a non-profit public space that offers a public access too initiation and support for information and communication technologies. This space is equipped with computers connected to the Internet. Such a space offers its users a variety of supervised, collective or individual activities in the form of reception, assistance, training or information. The methods are inclusive, and attempt to meet the demands and needs of the user.

MAKS has two DPS (1080PC in Molenbeek and OPEN ATELIER 110 in Kuregem) in two vulnerable districts near the Brussels Canal. In concrete terms, the digital public space is an open door to the needs of the neighborhood. Above all, it is an inclusive place of welcome, it must be pleasant, open, available and visible. Anyone can come (children, teenagers, adults, seniors, job seekers, people from the neighborhood, migrants, the poor, the disabled, others…).

In each of our two Open Spaces, there are about fifteen computers in working order with a good internet connection and courses and activities; including the necessary human support. Our facilitators help technically and humanely. The objective is never to do it in the person’s place, the objective is to give the person the opportunity to learn to “get by” with digital, with our help if necessary. We aim to develop user autonomy.

The Brussels DPSs are doing a fundamental job in the face of the rapid development of digital technology (dematerialization of paper media and online access without human mediation). DPSs want to reduce implicit exclusion from 15% to 20% of the most vulnerable citizens, who no longer have access to their fundamental rights (health, housing, administration, education, employment, social assistance, culture…).

 OPEN AE aims to “promote open technologies in non-formal adult education; to support digital inclusion and the improvement of digital skills of multimedia animators and their learners”. For Maks Digital it is an opportunity to train our staff on FLOSS culture and technologies. We are taking advantage of the dynamics of the OPEN AE project to move forward on the creation of professional training for multimedia animators involved in digital inclusion.

The objective is no longer to learn a specific “digital skill”, but overall to develop a new “meta-skill” allowing the person to achieve a certain “intuitive digital fluency” (an ability to manage), allowing the person to benefit from a service that meets their needs. It is a global empowerment process for active citizenship.

In this perspective we believe that FLOSS technologies represent an educational opportunity:

-to facilitate free access to useful tools

-to protect our uses from advertising exploitation

-to invest public money in tools with a public code

-to encourage active and responsible citizenship

-to empower the user globally as an actor and not only a client

Thanks to the dynamics of the project we hope to internally:

-train our facilitators and better professionalize their functions.

-try to migrate our two digital public spaces to FLOSS.

-allow a conscious choice of collaborative peer-to-peer sharing tools.

In the longer term, the objective is to federate the OPEN AE training offer with the network of other Digital Public Spaces in Brussels. Have been created since July 2019 a federation to better share resources (subsidies, training, visibility, knowledge exchange…). MAKS is one of the founding members (and in the Board) of CABAN-DIBAC (Collective of Brussels Actors for Digital Accessibility). We involve several resource persons of the CABAN-DIBAC network in the creation of the “Pilot Open-AE blended course”” so that they can take ownership of the project in order to better adapt it to field needs, to later offer the training modules and the toolbox via CABAN-DIBAC to all multimedia animators of the other Digital Public Spaces in Brussels.

Meet Ynternet.org!

Created in 1998, Ynternet.org is a Swiss foundation located in Geneva. Since the beginning we have been working to promote eCulture, namely good citizenship practices and digital literacy in the digital age. We are a team of experts, researchers and teachers, who are involved in training centers, international research and innovation programs, events (conferences, workshops, hackathons) and publications. With a strong Free license / software culture and online collaborative attitude, Ynternet.org have at its core values the knowledge sharing, digital native cultures, folksonomy, wikinomy and online collaboration. We are a research and education center promoting an efficient and ethical use of the technology, while having a responsible behaviour in the digital environment.

We have a passion for disruptive innovation (the TEDxGeneva conferences are one example of that) and Wikis (we love Wikis and Wiki-like platforms). Ynternet.org is working on commons oriented netizenship based on free and open source software, open licensing and we have a collaborative book (see more at http://www.ynternet.org/page/livre and http://netizen3.org/index.php) that explains their fundamentals.

  1. What if the background of Ynternet.org in free and open source (FLOSS) technologies? 

We have been campaigning for more ethical and socially conscious internet and technological usage for many years. We frequently go to schools and universities to raise awareness and promote the intentional usage of digital devices as well as advocating for the open culture movement (see more at http://www.ynternet.org/page/tous-citoyens-du-net ). Our latest campaign included open session with Richard Stallman who previously had a TEDxGeneva talk and is a member of the Ynternet.org scientific committee.

We have organised all our experience and expertise on collaborative competences around our WikiSkills Handbook: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/WikiSkills_Handbook a practical guide to help educators of all types (teachers, trainers, facilitators) to bring their students to use wikis and wiki-like tools for their learning activities. 

Last but not least, we have a strategic partnership with the University of Applied Sciences in Geneva (HES/HEG-GE) where we organize yearly trainings for Professors and Assistants on licensing (FLOSS models and tools). We frequently participate in local events, conferences and seminars on the topics of free and open licenses, targeting a more ethical and socially conscious internet through copyleft and the creative commons licences, online collaboration in the workplace and active citizenship. These interventions are open to various target groups including professionals, activists, job seekers and youth.

  1. Can you highlight any projects or initiatives your organisation has done in open culture or free software? How do you see your organisation contributing to the open movement? 

Earlier this year, we received in Switzerland Richard M. Stallman, one of the main initiator and key figure of  the free software movement and the GNU / Linux, Copyleft, digital commons (ie Wikipedia, open and open source software). In the era of ethical issues and digital sustainability, the Ynternet.org Foundation organized a conference tour of one of its flagship members, the co-founder of the free software movement and the philosophy of digital ethics. We hosted a number of different conferences with the precursor to open data and open educational resources (open educational resources) in different cities around Switzerland.

Our work in the FLOSS movement includes research efforts on collaborative applications development such as CoWaBoo (http://project.cowaboo.net), collective awareness on FLOSS Culture, (our observatory is available online at (https://groups.diigo.com/group/e_culture), FLOSS culture and eHealth activities, (see more at http://www.ehospital-project.net/docs/Publication_eHospital_long_EN.pdf) and an open ePorfolio methodology and platform (see more at http://www.ageneve.net/wp-content/uploads/guide_eportfolio_v03.pdf). In the last 5 years we have coordinated different Erasmus + LLP  projects, like the Wikiskills and the Wikinomics (http://www.wikinomics-project.eu) efforts, participated in several others and coordinating the TEDxGeneva project (www.tedxgeneva.net).

Currently we are one of the partners developing the Open AE project, but we are also developing another two Erasmus + projects (ICT4theElderly and DIMESCA) that have at their very core the ideas and values of the free and open culture movement.

Most importantly, we have developed international collaborations with the  Wikimedia and Orange Foundations, resulting to specific activities:

  1. What challenges with integrating free software and open source in the training of low-skills adults came up in your research? What do you hope from the open-ae project?

Our moto can be summarized as follows:  

“the road is long but the future is free (FLOSS)”.

We consider OPEN-AE as a golden opportunity to document and disseminate FLOSS culture throughout Europe. As our current OPEN-AE research demonstrates  there is a lot to be done on creating awareness among digital users regarding what the FLOSS culture movement. The vast majority of people is still not familiarized with concepts like copyleft licenses, open and free software and what it is to be a netizen in general. It is crucial to multiply the efforts and projects promoting FLOSS related digital skills while creating awareness that being collaborative, responsible and ethical in the internet is possible, and that this is exactly the way to preserve and push for an open and citizen driven internet.