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Re: [Ambassadors] The Education Strategy



On Tue, Aug 19, 2008 at 5:49 PM, Jack Aboutboul <jaa 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.

Perhaps disappointed is a word I might choose. Finding out that the
University Tour was happening by seeing a line item in the Fedora
budget for the then current quarter after it was too late to make any
contribution at all was very disappointing and makes me wonder who is
doing the planning of these programs since they all seem to be planned
before I know anything about them?

> 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.

Who is the "we" you keep mentioning?

I have to say that when people who aren't even known to the community
make a decision to "keep things quiet" they are in fact working in
secret. It is not a case of anyone being confused about it.

> 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.

I am going to assume the "we" is Red Hat since they are likely to be
the most concerned about press punch. Correct me if you aren't talking
about Red Hat making this decision and Red Hat doing the planning of
the program.

> 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.

I haven't got this sense of concern but it is good to make it clear. I
think existing ambassadors have some concern that you are missing an
opportunity to make good use of existing ambassadors already in place.

If I understood our previous discussions we would only be talking
about around 20 student ambassadors to start with which would not be
any burden on us. We are currently working to identify new areas we
can help in and this one seems a very good fit (this one meaning
academic outreach in general).

> 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.

Please elaborate on the idea that strategic partnerships with certain
key universities is important to Fedora. Partnerships doing what?
Which universities has Fedora deemed key and why?

> 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.

Getting adoption of a curriculum that teaches commonly used
development methodologies is important. It is important to companies
including Red Hat to get a better equipped talent pool coming out of
college, it is important to the entire community to increase the pool
of skilled talent.

And knowing how academia works, it makes perfect sense to focus on a
very small number of schools to work with to build an example
curriculum that can later be used by others.

> 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.

Encouraging student advocacy and involvement should be a key goal for
any Fedora backed initiative in the academic world. Students can reach
other students especially in ways that others can't. There is great
value in having student advocacy.

I'm not so sure about being an effective interface to the faculty -
they could be in some cases but in others the transient nature of
students makes maintaining a long term relationship difficult. Having
a faculty member be a face of Fedora on campus would be far better for
some of these things and even a campus staff member who often may
interact with the same faculty over a long time frame could be
beneficial.

The way you've presented this it again sounds like a Red Hat
initiative, not a Fedora initiative. Believe me that I am a huge
supporter of Red Hat's academic programs. But I also think that if
this is really supposed to be the "Fedora Education Strategy" then the
Fedora community should be doing the planning and it should be
accountable, not someone in Red Hat.

> 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.

If RHH doesn't remain open to any talented kid this will make me very
sad. I hope whatever is happening with "elite" (that makes my skin
crawl by the way) high schools is in addition to what RHH already is
and does not replace it.

What does RHH have to do with Fedora? Or what does Fedora have to do with RHH?

> 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?

I think the ambassadors should go ahead and prepare a proposal for
engaging the academic community and see how that differs. We can then
have something a bit more concrete to base the discussion on. I'll try
to get a draft of something out by this weekend to share the sorts of
things I'd like to see ambassadors involved with in the education
area.

John


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