[Ambassadors] Re: The Education Strategy

David Nalley david at gnsa.us
Wed Aug 20 17:29:35 UTC 2008

On Tue, Aug 19, 2008 at 6:49 PM, Jack Aboutboul <jaa at redhat.com> wrote:
> Hello Everyone,
> I realize that some people have been confused, perplexed and perhaps annoyed
> at the lack of information being disseminated about what is going on
> vis-a-vis some programs being planned in the educational realm.  After my
> brief comments at the NA ambassadors meeting a few weeks I would like to
> outline what has been going on to provide some clarity as well a grounds for
> discussions for everything.  Let me start by saying that I apologize if it
> seemed like this was being done in secret, which it absolutely isn't, its
> just the choice was made to keep everything quiet until we could make some
> formal announcement in the coming months and that lead people to believe we
> were trying to cut people out of the process, which is not the case at all.
> First of all, let me make a few thing we are *NOT* trying to do clear, based
> mostly off concerns people have brought to my attention:
> 1. Create a private initiative - Again, we were just being mum until we
> could make sure we would get the most press punch out of this.
> 2. Uproot/Replace/Rename/Repurpose the Ambassadors program - This is
> absolutely not true one iota!!!  The purpose that we are considering this
> initiative to be a separate entity has nothing to do with anything
> malicious.  This is intended to be a pilot program and we thought it might
> be less of a burned on Ambassadors if it was run by one person initially,
> figure out if it has legs, gain some organic growth and then integrate it
> into the fold rather than stick in a whole bunch of new people with
> seemingly narrow-focused objectives into an already ongoing and vibrant
> Ambassadors program.
> 3. Replace current Ambassadors who are students - Again, not true.  We
> really would like everyone to keep doing the great job they are already
> doing, day in and day out.  We didn't start by approaching these
> ambassadors, because strategic partnerships with certain key universities
> are important to Red Hat as well as Fedora and we are, and I especially have
> been, working on building those bridges for the past few weeks.  We don't
> want to kick anyone out of place, on the contrary--we are trying to make
> more places in which people can be.
> That being said, I am going to highlight some key pieces of strategy which
> for better or worse comprise our Fedora Education Strategy and feel free to
> comment on and/or disagree with any of these--thats why I'm putting this
> out, to get everyone involved in the process:
> 1. Open Source Curriculum - We are working with a talented group of people
> to try and put together both a platform and set of course materials in order
> to teach people and students world wide how to program using modern software
> engineering methodologies and with a focus on Free and Open Software tools
> and philosophy.
> 2. Campus Reps - A US Pilot program to try and get students on college
> campuses involved in Fedora and general FOSS advocacy.  Initially, they will
> all report back to one person within Red Hat who can be help responsible and
> accountable for all this.  Purpose is two-fold, first, students advocate for
> open source and fedora on their respective campus.  Second, they provide
> eyes and ears on the ground and work with students and faculty to find
> interesting opportunities.  Students also provide a face for us to the
> faculty which is familiar to them which doesnt seem like its some corporate
> backed scheme to recruit students without paying their sometimes insane
> fees.  Reps have a few basic responsibilities, mainly holding one event a
> semester, whether it be a tech talk or info session about something fedora
> or open source related and maintaining good rapport with faculty to try and
> make new opportunities spring up.
> 3. Red Hat High 2.0 - Redefine RHH as a program working with the country's
> elite science and math high schools in order to get students familiarized
> with open source at the high school level.  This ties in with the Open
> Curriculum.  We know there are a number of similar initiatives but none
> which focus around getting students familiarized with open source.
> Thats basically that, I'm sure everyone will have more questions and
> comments and suggestions, so let's get everyone involved in this.  What do
> you think?
> Jack

Hi Jack - let me first say thanks for taking the time to write this
up, especially with everything that's going on.

The potential for reaching students and communicating the
opportunities within Fedora and the larger open source community are
terribly exciting.

My concerns are as follows:

Lack of openness
One of the things we've talked about in IRC and I'll reiterate here is
that lack of openness makes people think the worst. I think that
largely such things have little if any place within the Fedora
community - there are a few exceptions, but I am not sure that this is
one of them. I also don't see the benefit - I know we talked about
making a big splash at Seneca in October, but that type of 'marketing'
is more reminiscent of Steve Jobs than of Fedora.

Lack of opportunity
By doing a small pilot and restricting participation I am afraid we
risk turning away potential contributors. Now when I say that I am not
advocating going full bore advertising - but there is a difference
between something being open to anyone, letting people self-nominate
and keeping it limited to $select_colleges. This actually shocks me
that we'd try to actively restrict who can get involved in program. I
am also shocked at the lack of opportunity to participate in the
process of planning it out. There are some people who heavily think
that academia is a must-tap for OSS progress that would love to offer
their time, expertise, and connections.

Lack of taking advantage of resources.
Within the Fedora Ambassadors, Marketing Project, and even the wider
Fedora contributor base there are already some significant resources
that aren't being tapped. For instance, there exists a sizeable group
of students, faculty and staff at colleges already. Why are we trying
to apparently start this effort from scratch? Seems counter-intuitive,
especially given the nature of Fedora. Why not start there, take the
Larry Cafieros and Yaakov Nemoys and others.

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