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.

How to #OpenAE?

The Open AE: Promote open source technologies in non-formal adult education (OPEN-AE) project will be presented at the ALL DIGITAL Summit in Bologna on October 10-11th. The How to Workshop will give participants, who will mostly be from the digital inclusion sector practical and hands on exercises to better understand how to participate in open-source and free software cultures (hint: you can be active in the field even if you are not an IT developer).

The project consortium feels committed to bridging the Free, Libre and Open Source Software gap in the digital inclusion sector and makes no assumption that this is a easy task. Bottom up research conducted by desk research and focus groups show that many feel they are not skilled enough to be active free and open source software users. The how-to workshop aims to put into perspective these doubts and give clear hands on techniques to start participating in the open software culture, share your work with open licenses and benefit and contribute to the work of others.

The how-to workshop will take place as part of the ALL DIGITAL Summit in Bologna, it will be hosted on the 11th of October from 11:45 to 13:15

Meet the Association Study Center City of Foligno

The Association Study Center City of Foligno (www.cstudifoligno.it) is a training agency active since the year 2000 in the territory of the Municipality of Foligno. The Association is a non-profit private organization whose funding members are the Municipality of Foligno, the Province of Perugia, the Umbria Region, the University of Perugia and the Foundation of the local bank.

CSF has worked with and for different target groups, always starting from the assumption that a high-quality education and training are fundamental to the whole realization of the individual. “Education for all”, in our case, has meant in particular the realization of training courses and other formative interventions for disadvantaged groups. Unemployment, handicap, gender and racial discrimination, from one side, have been dismantled with adaptability, guidance and social inclusion, from the other side.

Our main activity is the constant research of local, national and community funds, for two main reasons:

1)  It answers to the needs and problems of people who live in Foligno and in the surrounding areas

2)  It connects people with a wider educational and working context, with the aim to favor an intercultural comparison and dialogue for the development of the person and of the society in general

We constantly try to deepen a real transnational cooperation in the field of adult education, increase awareness of European cooperation and opportunities and help young adults in finding their role in the everyday life.

We have a long-term experience in European projects, both as a coordinating and as a partner organization.

With regards to adult learners, we benefit from the European Social Fund for the delivery of continuous and permanent training intervention. Moreover, starting from 2010, we have implemented, both as project coordinator and partner, several Grundtvig multilateral projects (LLP) and Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic partnerships for Adults.

All these activities allowed us to strengthen our connection with other local and international organizations that provide services for the elders, such as:

–           The University of the Third Age of Foligno

–           CPIA: regional center for adult education

–           EPALE: Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe 

–           Some sectorial associations, for the promotion of the project activities and the involvement of average but committed seniors, such as:

  • AUSER (http://www.auserumbria.it/) Association for the self-management of services and solidarity
  • ANTEAS (http://www.anteasfoligno.it/home/) National Association of Senior Citizens Active for Solidarity
  • ANCESCAO (http://www.ancescao.it/) National Association of Social Centers, Elders Committees and Gardens
  1. What is the background of CSF in open and free technologies?

CSF, having being involved in numerous EU projects, has collaborated with European partners in the development of open source technologies and OERs. The resources developed range from methodologies, and OERs to platform and software.

Although the organization itself cannot be considered as a pioneer nor a driver in the field of the FLOSS movement, CSF has always been committed in the use or development of open resources. Its staff has always paid attention to open and free technologies, attempting to make the widest use possible both for their daily work and for training the target groups involved in CSF courses. For instance, most of the courses offered by CSF on basic digital skills are implemented using software such as Open office and when dealing with video editing almost all the staff members are able to use Da Vinci Resolve.

What are CSF’s highlights in projects or initiatives in open culture or free software? How is CSF contributing to the open movement?

As mentioned above, CSF has implemented several projects and initiatives that, although not specifically focused on open culture, have developed diverse open and free tools and methodology. Here below we can mention some of them that have a link with adult education.

1)         “CAFE in Europe – Civic Awareness For Elders in Europe” was a LLP Grundtvig Multilateral project leaded by the Municipality of Foligno in collaboration with the Association of Civil Protection LARES, which involved other five European organizations. The main objective was to identify a common European training strategy in order to sensitize elderly people about their possible role of civil protection volunteers.

2)         VINTAGE (Valorisation of INnovative Technologies for AGing in Europe) is a LLP Grundtvig Multilateral project. (www.vintageproject.eu).  The project is an integrated action which aimed to face the digital exclusion of this target group by placing the elder in the center of the contemporary digital world. The impact of the project activities was ensured by the transversal involvement of different target groups, such as elderly people, voluntary associations, adult education institutions, public authorities, SMEs and other private bodies. We already implemented a well-structured dissemination plan both at local, national and international level, including numerous exploitation activities in order to put the bases for the sustainability of the project. In fact, starting from last March 2015, VINTAGE has been replicated at regional level with the financial supports of the Umbria Region within the framework of the “Regional Agenda for active ageing and social inclusion”.

3)         CINAGE project (Cinema for Active Ageing) another GRUNDTVIG multilateral (www.cinageproject.eu) started in 2013 and finished in 2015, focused on the active involvement of the seniors through an intergenerational training approach for the analysis of the European cinema production related to six areas of Active Ageing

4)         BRIGHTS a KA3 ERASMUS+ project that aims to promote Global Citizenship Education (GCE) in formal and non-formal Educational contexts with the help of Digital Storytelling (DS) techniques, leading to more socially inclusive education and training policies and practices in Europe. Its objectives are:

– Increase and improve teachers’ and trainers’ capacity to implement GCE with young people using DS;

– Empower young people in the acquisition and development of social, civic and intercultural competences as well as critical thinking, media literacy, creativity and digital skills through the production of digital stories on Global Citizenship.

– Develop of a European online community on GCE able to sustain project results and amplify their impact.

5)         DCDS a KA3 ERASMUS+ project aimed at developing an innovative multilingual Digital Competences Development System (DCDS) and use it to provide non-formal training to low-skilled adults in the non-formal education sector in different European countries. The System consists of:

  • A methodology for the development of digital competences and related transversal competences of adults
  • An online environment that implements the methodology

Moreover, from the beginning of the 2019 CSF has inaugurated a new digital hub open and free to all the citizens. The “DigiPass” is part of the Agenda Digitale per l’Umbria (Digital Agenda for Umbria), a strategic development plan for regional digitization. This center, equipped with training rooms, help desk and free internet access, is hosted in the premises of CSF and it has been widely used for training and promotional activities about CSF projects and initiatives.

  • What challenges has CSF encountered with integrating free software and open source in the training of low-skills adults?

The findings from the desk research for the OPEN-AE project underlined that there are different issues with integrating free software and open source on different levels but these issues are not related to specific target groups (i.e. low skilled adults) but rather to structural and cultural barriers training providers have to face. First of all, in Italy one can witness a lack of support to the FLOSS movement at policy and economic level. For instance, CSF, being funded by public entities, should be supported and orientated toward the use of free software and open source but in fact in the last years this support failed (see for example articles 68 and 69 of the “Digital Administration Code” that impose the preferential adoption of internally developed software solutions, and the choice of Free Software instead of proprietary solutions, on public administrations that never effectively took place). Secondly, many trainers are used to work with proprietary resources and tools because those are related to the competences the market requires and consequently when working they are naturally pushed to refer to those tools and resources. In addition to that, it exists a cultural barrier in Italy that speaks against the development and spread of free software and open source technologies and resources: the main cause being the allegedly shortage in quality of FLOSS alternatives in comparison with proprietary solutions.

  • What does CSF hope for the outcomes of the Open-AE project?

With the two years’ work on the Open-AE project, CSF is expecting first of all to gain extensive and deeper knowledge about free software and open source and the whole FLOSS movement. In this way, the whole organization could lead by example other organizations, starting with the ones involved in Open-AE such as adult training providers and then moving to public organizations such as The University of Perugia and the Municipality of Foligno, both funders of the CSF. In would be really great if in the public offices of CSF, the staff would be able to fully switch to open and free technologies (or at least partially). We reckon it would be a great message to send out the public audience the fact that a whole organization is using free and open tools and software (as far as we know it does not exist such an organization in our area, this would also mean presenting CSF as a pioneering organization at regional level). For the daily tasks performed daily by CSF (trainings, management, administration, etc.) there are several good solutions that could be used instead of proprietary software currently employed.

Secondly, the piloting activities will be a huge opportunity to involve other training providers and trainers, to have them approach the free and open technologies world and consequently to influence their own organizations in future decisions.

Finally, on crucial aspect that is indeed also one of the main objectives of the Open-AE: the upskill of trainers through a deeper understanding of free and open technologies and resources and the application of tools in their work. In this way, CSF trainers who attended the training in Barcelona and trainers, who will be attending the piloting course, will benefit from the Open-AE activities creating greater awareness for themselves and their own organizations.

What is copyleft?

Licenses are often used to protect intellectual property. Software developers and authors may often protect their outputs by putting on a license. However, the burden on improving the outputs often lie on the creators and the holder of the copyright or license. Some creators choose to have open licenses when sharing their work, this is done with the intention Copyright holders of creative works can unilaterally choose these licenses for their own works to collaboratively share and improve those creative works.

License provide a lot of background to understanding the basis of free software. One of the reasons why people use free software is that people have the freedom to use software the way they want to, not the way the owners of the copyright may wish for the user to use it. Examples to illustrate this are formatting and compatibility issues when sending a document from a windows device to a Mac, or the availability of some programmes on some online app stores with some devices. A license or license is an official permission or permit to do, use, or own something. Copyright is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution while copyleft is a strategy of utilizing copyright law to pursue the policy goal of fostering and encouraging the equal and inalienable right to copy, share, modify and improve creative works of authorship.

Free software tries and make use of copyleft, the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License and the General Public License (GPL). Users can utilize the 4 freedoms

  • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
  • Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works and change it to make it do what you wish.
  • Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute and make copies so you can help your neighbor.
  • Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.

These freedoms and the licensing that grants these provide the foundation for software freedom, which is free not gratis.

Find out more information

Copyleft

https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/

GNU GPL

https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.en.html

Licenses

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/License

Bridging the digital skills gap with FLOSS

The Open AE: Promote open source technologies in non-formal adult education project (OPEN-AE) aims to train e-facilitators, animators and trainer in digital competence centers and telecentre across Europe in using Free Libre Open Source Software

(FLOSS) technologies for inclusion.  The project partners have conducted a desk research and focus groups with trainers to develop a curriculum that matches training needs of trainers with available open education resources.

Partners and trainers in met in Barcelona hosted by OPEN-AE partner and ALL DIGITAL member COLECTIC. The focus groups conducted by partners with trainers in the field provided a lot of insight into challenges when incorporating FLOSS options to trainings. The trainers and partners taking part in the OPEN-AE project primarily work with digital excluded people who are trying to gain skills into order to gain access to services or the labour market. Learners in such position are aware of the software and skills they need to learn; however, they may often tie these skills with a propriety software option. The challenge of the e-facilitator is answering the need of the learners with equivalent FLOSS options, while ensuring that the needs of the learner are still recognized. Bridging this gap, proved on of the biggest challenges which the training tried to answer. Answering learner’s needs proved to be a challenge.

The training then focused on strategies, resources and best practices to address the learner’s needs. In order to guide this, a large portion of the training focused on the philosophy behind FLOSS and free culture. Supporting the “movement” is not exclusively with the use of Free and open software, there is the philosophy with ensuring content and creations can be freely shared.

Over the next weeks we will share themes