[Ambassadors] musings on education outreach

Neville A. Cross nacross at gmail.com
Wed Aug 27 02:07:24 UTC 2008

On Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 6:03 PM, inode0 <inode0 at gmail.com> wrote:

> One key group I want to focus on are students from non-technical
> areas. We have ways to reach kids in Computer Science and Engineering
> programs. We need to reach out to kids in Design schools, in Business
> schools, in Marketing programs, and elsewhere.


Thanks for sharing. I come from a business background and I am a part
time teacher in a business school. What I have been trying to convince
my fellows LUG is that a non-technical person does not care for OS. It
is applications what they are looking for. Part of raising attention
is to say: "Look to my computer, it is virus free!" Or you can tell
accounting students to do their projects using GNUCash. And then you
can explain to them that for that you install Fedora. You reassure
them that chat, internet browsing and email will be more or less the
same. The big questions are about word processing and electronic
sheets, and again there is need to reassuse them that everything will
be fine. I can not stress enough that non-technical user are really
not aware of what is a OS, they are only looking for applications.

I organized a small meeting with about 60 college students, inviting
them so see what  Free Software has to offer to them. We aimed to
business students, but in the end we also gather people from
economics, architecture and of course computing. We talk about how you
migrate to Free Software, and we showed several applications to
fulfill their common task running all of them in linux. Every one
talking wanted to showoff  their laptop, so we demonstrated a handful
of distros. We have been invited to repeat this.

I think that we covered in some way objective 1, awareness. The hard
part is participation because you need to spoon feed babies, and spoon
feeding takes time. There is a small group within the college, so what
I want to do is to project them. Because if anybody takes the risk of
installing Linux after our talk, probably they will have questions.
The real problem is to create an arena where this support can be
exchanged. Ideally new user will learn and help with minor issues and
let bigger problems to the more experienced users. Non-technical
people are not easily talk into use a list or forum. And here is were
I am stuck, because there is a lot of good will from the computer
faculty, but business faculty is a different fief. I haven't get the
leverage to get a college wide authority to allocate resources for a
inter faculty initiative. I hope it is just matter of time. We were
thinking that a web page with a list of applications customized by
areas of education, and fully localized may be a good resource. But we
haven't get there yet.

A final thought. It is really good to convert teachers into Fedora
users, because they have a numerous audience. Again, it is needed to
show that teachers can use fedora for all their tasks.

I really hope that our experiences here in Nicaragua, may be useful.
And please, if any of you feel that can advise me into improve what we
have done, please do so. I will love to heard new ideas.

Best regard to you all.

Linux User # 473217

More information about the Fedora-ambassadors-list mailing list