It seems to me that many people (many of them very smart and thoughtful and many of them not) have put a lot of time and energy into trying to come up with what educational technology should look like for today's students. Microsoft has their version, Apple has their version, numerous other software and hardware vendors have their version and so on and so forth. I was thinking this morning that wouldn't it be nice if students had a say in what educational technology should look like!?
But of course my colleagues have tried putting students on task force panels, facilitating round table discussions with students, and of course students have filled out endless surveys, but in all cases (I am assuming) students were always under the current constraints of educational technology and the typical (and broken) way we currently do business.
I was also listening to a podcast this morning from David Warlick. He was facilitating a discussion at an edtech conference about open source. Most of the questions revolved around financing and supporting open source environments. However, no one mentioned what I am coming to believe open source is really all about…freedom. Not freedom as in "free lunch" but freedom as in liberty or libre. Free and open source software is great because it is free to educators, but what if we took the freedom that open source provides and allow students (in collaboration with other students and teachers) to use the freedom inherent in open source to create the learning technology supported learning environment that they want.
This is what I am proposing:
A contest to build the ultimate educational technology student learning environment. It would have to include only open source and free (flash, IM, adobe reader, etc) software and code. Students would be able to modify any number of linux and other OSes, grab software titles, write their own code, add games, etc. and build the ultimate learning environment. If a student feels that Doom 4 should be part of the ultimate learning environment so be it. If a student feels Open Office should be part of the ultimate learning environment so be it. If a student feels that FreeBSD should be the underpinnings of the ultimate learning environment so be it. If a student thinks that the latest version of Ubuntu with a whole bunch of code hacks thrown in is the ultimate learning environment so be it.
The judges of the ultimate learning environments should be the community. Prizes should be awarded to all entrants with larger prizes going to the top winners (maybe an iPod with a linux mod). All entries would be made available to everyone. Let the cream rise to the top. Lets students create LiveCD versions to share with all their friends. Let innovation take place on the edges. Let innovation take place in the schools. Let the promise of open source be released thru more then a "free lunch" but thru the active recruitment of thousands of students. Make collaboration easy so non-coders can meet virtually with geeks to put their $.02 in. Open source all entries so we can all build on each other….
Money Sponsors (UConn or Linux companies or non-profit edu vendors or media comapnies or Larry Lessig or open source foundations…)
"Get the word out" Sponsors (Warlick, November, Jukes, Susan Patrick, Taking ITGlobal…)
-what should entries look like (LiveCD or install)
-minimum hardware specs to run on?!
-examples of what is acceptable and not
-ideas to get started
-adhere to open source and free
–creative commons license
-Should this be USA or Global??