06 SES 05, Open Learning Environments
Parallel Paper Session<br />
OpenLab ESEV, the Free Software project of the School of Education of the Polytechnic Institute of Viseu (ESEV), Portugal, emerged in late 2009. It's aim was to aggregate and promote activities related to the use of Free/Libre Software (Stallman, 2010), Open Source Software (Perens, 1999), Open Educational Resources, Free file formats and more flexible copyright licenses for creative and educational purposes.
The origin of the project is justified on ethical and strategic grounds that we believe to be critical for the present “network information economy” (Benkler, 2006). The desire to promote informed choices was the motivating challenge that emerged from an environment characterized by the lack of knowledge of the existing Free/Libre alternatives and by work habits exclusively built around proprietary software. If, as Lawrence Lessig (2004) wrote, “Our only choice now is whether that information society will be free or feudal” (p. 267) it's not difficult to understand why we share the view that “The decision to work with free software is also an ethical decision, the expression of a desire to live in a world organised in a different way, where the artificial barriers that benefit only a few are eliminated” (Soler, 2008, p.16).
According to UNU-MERIT, the importance of promoting the use of F/LOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) in education (ICT education and more generally all educational activities that have a bearing on the cultural relationship with information technology) is threefold:
1) a strong impact on the future usage of F/LOSS products and the build-up of the related skills;
2) a focus on the development of essential ICT skills rather than on the use of specific applications from specific vendors (leading to the current locked-in-for-life situation, where vendor lock-in applies not only to organisations but to individuals who have typically not chosen their software but been provided it for free by schools);
3) fostering of attitudes towards information technology that favour creativity and active participation , collaboration and critical use (2006, pp. 216-217)
Adding and in relation to this question, “Issues surrounding copyright and free access are among the most divisive and most important of the digital age, bringing into the open questions about the nature of knowledge, of content, of society, identity and democracy" (Downes, 2011, p. 6)
In this paper, we'll present the activities developed in the last two years by focusing on our own learning process, on implemented projects and initiatives, and on successes and difficulties. The overview is not intended as a description but as background for the examination of the use of F/LOSS in educational settings, specially in higher education settings. The purpose is to further the discussion about free culture and free knowledge: from its merits to our practice. The presentation of the project includes diagrams portraying workflows and pipelines for different purposes, software packages used for different tasks, adopted file formats and chosen copyright licenses, and finished and ongoing educational and media projects as real case scenarios.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press. Downes, S. (2011). Free Learning - Essays on open educational resources and copyright. Retrieved from http://www.downes.ca/files/FreeLearning.pdf Lessig, L. (2004). Free culture. New York: Penguin Press. Perens, B. (1999). The Open Source Definition. In C. DiBona, S. Ockman e M. Stone (Eds), Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media. Retrieved from http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/opensources/book/toc.html Soler, P. (2008). Artists and Free Software – an Introduction. In A. Mansoux, & M. Valk (Eds.), FLOSS+ART (pp. 14-17). Poitiers: GOTO10. Stallman, R. M. (2010). Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman (2nd Edition). Boston: GNU PRESS/Free Software Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.gnu.org/doc/fsfs-ii-2.pdf United Nations University - Maastricht Economic (and social) Research (and training) Centre on Innovation and Technology (2006). Study on the: Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU. Maastricht: UNU-MERIT. Retrieved from http://www.epractice.eu/en/library/281194
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