Education Freedom Day2014-01-18
Today, I had an opportunity to speak at a local event celebrating Education Freedom Day organized by FOSS Nepal group in Kathmandu. I was very happy to receive an invitation to participate since it signified a confluence of two my avid interests: free software and education. Choosing a topic to share with this community was the easiest thing in the world. I knew immediately that I wanted to show them all of the things I find unique about OLPC and the Sugar project.
Having been immersed in the Sugar world for some time, I wanted to present with a style using Turtle Art's presentation blocks. After the initial excitement of trying out yet another feature of Turtle Art abated, I made a rational decision to stick with Libre Office Impress and postpone my experimentation with fitting large chunks of text into tiny blocks on a small screen for some other time. Honestly, presentation blocks don't make Turtle Art shine at its best. I will stick with using it for programming for now.:)
On this cloudy day (the first day it rained since I landed six weeks ago!), I arrived at the venue shortly before noon to find a welcoming community of young and old from FOSS Nepal and local chapters of Open Knowledge Foundation, Mozilla, and Wikipedia. Folks from Village Tech Solutions with their Looma showed up as well. I was also happy to see some familiar faces from my own OLE.
After initial networking, Prakash Neupane, the main organizer, kicked off the event introducing a professor from Kathmandu University who talked about free software applications used in education such as Moodle and School Tool and the leader of Wikipedia Nepal, who explained Wikipedia's Education Program. Apparently, Wikimedia has partnered with university professors worlwide to develop course assignments for university students to contribute to improving Wikipedia articles as part of their. I think this is a very smart move by Wikimedia to recruit more high-quality encyclopedia contributors.
I received the last presentation slot of the day and really made the most of it. I felt very comfortable among many like-minded people seated in front of me, so I took the opportunity to deliver a sermon how the OLPC's unique approach to education called contructionism materilialized in an innovative tool "to think with"- the XO computer with Sugar on top. I got so carried away by explaining the project's mission and how its principles manifest in the operating system that the presentation, originally planned for 30 minutes, lasted almost 2 hours. Not even a temporary power outage stopped me from demonstrating the wonders one can achieve with Turtle Art (thumbs up to developers who have included a large number of examples to choose from for demonstrating the diversity of projects possible). My very favorite example is flower:
Demoing Turtle Art drew, by far, the most attention from the audience, so the lesson I learned for next time is to do less elated talking and instead spend more time with showing off Sugar's very best.
In a nutshell, I had a blast, despite boring a few in the audience with my philosophical lecture, and I am very much looking forward to more opportunities to demonstrate the capabilities of Sugar, and Turtle Art in particular, in the near future. Here is a link to my presentation:
Perhaps some of you will find it useful in your presentation of Sugar. As always, I welcome your comments and any suggestions for improvement.