29 September 2010

olpc Community Summit October 2010

A massive thank you to Internet NZ for funding me to go to the olpc Community Summit that will be held in San Francisco from 22-24 October 2010. Information about this event can be found here: http://olpcsf.org/CommunitySummit2010/

I am particularly looking forward to meeting some of the people I have spoken to so regularly online and getting to hear face to face about some of the great work that people are doing for olpc. The sharing of ideas and planning for the future will be fantastic.

You can see the Summit topics taking shape on the wiki. The same week there is also Books in Browsers with the Internet Archive so it is a pretty exciting time to be in San Francisco.

28 September 2010

Sharefest 2010

This week is a busy week in NZ with loads of teaching and learning related events. I am at Sharefest in Hamilton, but there is also Ako Aotearoa's Teaching and learning conference in Palmerston North and Unitec's Learning Teaching and Research Symposium in Auckland.
I have a workshop on Monday on Moodle's glossary and database activity modules, and a presentation on Tuesday on Moodle on the olpc School Server.

The photos I have been taking of SharEfest can be found in my Picasa Sharefest 2010 album.

19 September 2010

Software Freedom Day 2010 - Orion Cafe

Thanks to everyone who helped out with Software Freedom Day this year around the world, and thanks to all those that attended one of these events. Here in Auckland we had a great weekend with Albany on Friday followed by the Mt Eden event on Saturday at Orion Cafe.
There were about twenty or so people at Albany Senior High on Friday. There was gaming (shoot 'em up styles), a demo by Mark of Open Shot (video editing software) and Nted (create sheet music), fun with magnets (thanks Dave), one laptop per child playing and Sugar giveaways, Ubuntu CD giveaways and demo of running live CD on a Mac, and lots of chatting. It was great to see some teachers there from another school.
Looking at my photos and trying to recall who I spoke to, I think there were around seventy or so people at Orion Cafe on Saturday. Conversations ranged from Asterisk phones, to electric cars, to one laptop per child, to what is freedom, and more. There were people cutting out penguins and gluing them together, people playing Physics in Sugar on the XO laptops, and people chatting and drinking coffee. Fabiana was working on an open source project with two of the attendees at one point, and I am sure new recruits were found for LUG and olpc.

It was unfortunate that one of the attractions, the reprap 3d printer, could not make it. We haven't yet heard what the problem was there, but there is speculation that it relates to the horrific weather the night before and the fact that Vik (owner of the printer) is a volunteer with the fire brigade.

The ebb and flow effect of people arriving and leaving throughout the day meant there were two "proper talks" and the rest of the day was very informal. The first talk was UALUG on Linux 101 and the second was Peter and Dave leading a talk on what is freedom.

A big thanks to Orion for sponsoring the event and opening the cafe on a Saturday, and thanks to Chris for feeding us, filling us with coffee (love the chocolate you use and the biscotti on the side was tasty) and smiling all day long while you ran the place on your own. We really appreciated the great environment and plan on asking if we can come back again next year. In case anyone is wondering, you can book Orion Cafe for evening functions and it makes a great venue for birthday parties.

It seems the electric car was a hit with all the attendees this year, with Tom giving multiple talks about how it works and talking about the open source battery management system. Phil was also at Software freedom day with his test kit showing people the open source electric motor controller (for those of you who missed it, Phil owns the Greenstage electric saker; Tom owns the Carrott Electric mini; Tom, Phil and others work on something called the Tumanako project which is building open source electric car hardware and software).

Hopefully these are signs of big things to come and we will see this event grow each year in Auckland and around the world.

17 September 2010

Software Freedom Day 2010 - Albany Senior High School

The first Auckland event for Software Freedom Day 2010 was held at Albany Senior High School this afternoon. Attendees were a mix of students from the school, some teachers from another school who were in the area, interested people, and some open source enthusiasts.

There was gaming, demonstrations of software and fun with magnets, the olpc laptops, and general conversations. Ubuntu CDs were handed out and a few Sugar on a Stick USBs.

A great time!

14 September 2010

Testing by desire

This morning I helped a lecturer with his class mid semester test. Earlier in the course the lecturer and students discussed assessment and decided together how they would be assessed. The assessment is made up of two tests, portfolio and practical. Last year the course had a test at the end, but these students asked for an assessment mid semester.
The lecturer and his colleague have made the mid semester test using Moodle quiz. They had asked my assistance part way through their design and were working well towards completing the preparation last time I saw them. They asked me to be available “just in case” on the day, so I popped along to the classroom. The plan is half the students at 9.30am and half at 10.30am.
I walked into the classroom to find students sitting at computers logging into Moodle and only one asked me what his password might be, which I am pretty happy about. The test was set to automatically open at 9.30am. They all have pen paper and calculator handy for working out each answer. Some of the students have the electrical standards with them, though they shouldn’t need it for the test. They have an hour to complete.
We struck one small issue. One of the questions has a bit of random html in it that makes it appear to the students that there should be a picture but there is not. We discussed it with them as they reached that question and they all seemed okay to carry on. I will fix the code in that question when they finish, and just before the second group start.
I am trying to decide what I think about students asking for more tests. I can understand them wanting to spread the assessment values out; having more than half your course grade based on one assessment item can be highly stressful. They have decided this weighting: 20% mid semester theory test, 25% end semester theory test, 10% portfolio, 45% practical.
Well, with the first students nearly complete the test results are coming in fast and all seems to be well. Their feedback is positive and they all seem to be happy with the assessment method, though some students said they had questions that looked almost the same with just a few different variables (which we will investigate).

Software Freedom Day 2010

This week I am taking part in a global celebration called Software Freedom Day. The official date is 18 September, however why not celebrate it for a few extra days.
The vision of Software Freedom Day “is to empower all people to freely connect, create and share in a digital world that is participatory, transparent, and sustainable.”
There are six objectives:
1. to celebrate software freedom and the people behind it
2. to foster a general understanding of software freedom, and encourage adoption of free software and open standards
3. to create more equal access to opportunities through the use of participatory technologies
4. to promote constructive dialogue on responsibilities and rights in the information society
5. to be inclusive of organizations and individuals that share our Vision
6. to be pragmatic, transparent, and responsible as an organisation
For my contribution to the celebration I am part of the team organising the Auckland celebrations. This Friday 17 September there will be an event at Albany Senior High School from 4pm – 6pm. This Saturday there will be an event at Orion Cafe in Mt Eden from 10am – 4pm. Both events will involve having lots of fun, talking to people and trying new things. olpc will be there with the little green laptops. There will be games, guest speakers and giveaways.

If you want to read more about the events visit http://softwarefreedomday.org.nz/ and I really hope to see lots of people there to celebrate with us.

08 September 2010

Communities of Practice

Last week I joined CPsquare – The Community of Practice on Communities of Practice. They were having a Seeding 2.0 conference that I wanted to participate in.

I jumped right into some of the conversations and enjoyed reading comments from people like me, asking the same questions about communities of practice that I am, about who they are and how they see their own identity. I also found it timely to be talking about assessment in CPsquare when this is current conversation at Unitec.

02 September 2010

XO is in a comic

Today I was sent an email telling me that the olpc laptop is in a comic! It has been spotted on the www.the99.org site.

01 September 2010

Volunteer day at Unitec

Today was Volunteer day at Unitec.

We had an olpc stand and there was lots of interest from the students, so gave out an information sheet that tells them where to download Sugar on a Stick, how to join the mailing list, and where we meet in Auckland on Saturdays.

Tracey came to help with the stand.

There is a huge variety of international students at Unitec and some were interested in translations for their country.

Some of the other volunteer organisations at the event included:
  • Fire service
  • Trade Aid
  • Refugee services
  • Citizen Advice Bureau 
  • Volunteering Auckland
  • Auckland Zoo
  • SPCA
  • Special Olympics
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • IHC NZ
There were lots more but I didn't get around to them all unfortunately.  All in all, I think it was a well organised and well attended event. Volunteering can really help students get experience that can lead to employment, so well worth running the event for the students.