Codename Ed: for a wholesome future aligned with educational values

School communities are begging Google to continue supporting Chromebooks beyond the scheduled end date this year. I wish them success with their short term goal. However, I wish more dearly that they would have an opportunity to learn about the down sides of corporate involvement in education, and about ethical alternatives.

Whichever way the petition goes, the media focus there will on Google pushing their Big Tech, likely framed as “generosity”, which we recognise as an anti-pattern. It would be good if we could avoid wasting our energy engaging directly with this news story but instead, riding the wave of it, promote our own story.

Could we write a story something like this?

Having placed all of their eggs in Google's gift basket of once shiny Chromebooks, now rusting away, some schools react by begging the Big Tech for an extension. Meanwhile the [Codename: Ed Foundation?] is preparing to show school leaders a more wholesome future aligned with educational values, with the launch of *[Codename: Ed Suite?]*

What is this project? [Codename: Ed Suite?] is a sustainable and independently supported platform for students and teachers. The solution comprises non-proprietary education software systems, chosen by each school according to its needs from a diverse catalogue, and running on commodity hardware.

Non-proprietary educational technologies, known collectively as Open EdTech, are tools that provide learning support functions in the classroom. At the same time, whereas proprietary products which incentivised to push their users into behaviours that maximise their vendors' profits, Open EdTech stands in contrast to serve a higher purpose. Use of Open EdTech instead fosters a learning environment that encourages young people to discover how they themselves can play a part in choosing, building and modifying the technology around them. From this in turn they learn to recognise how wielding this agency over their tools leads progressively to their technology becoming aligning to serving their own needs and interests, and those of their peers and society. With these new skills and ways of thinking as inventors, engineers and scientists, young people develop an outlook of taking charge of their environment, standing them in good stead both in the humanities and in technical vocations.

Far from being produced and controlled by a single company, Open EdTech comprises components developed by specialist organisations of all kinds. The FOSS model of development and licensing guarantees freedom from lock-in. Schools can have these products managed, maintained, further developed and adapted by any willing supplier whom they choose, local or international, commercial or voluntary, public or private sector or academic. Commodity tablet or laptop hardware is sourced from multiple vendors, enabling choice of custom or off-the-shelf designs, and flexible options for low cost replacement or repair.

What is this Foundation? The [Codename: Ed Foundation?] ... co-ordinates the supply and management of Open EdTech products and services, for the benefit of all kinds of educational institutions everywhere. Its role is assistive, not controlling. ...

I wanted to make three points with this post. Listed from most immediate to most important:

  1. Taking advantage of news/political situations arising, like this one, to put out a message drawing attention to our goals, being more likely to be read and shared at this time (along with any other standard marketing techniques, which I mostly don't ever think about).

  2. Having a go at expressing our vision concisely, in the form of a news flash, focusing the outsider's attention on what's possible and why. Imagining what we want, and describing it as if it already exists, I think is a powerful exercise towards making it possible.

  3. I think the key thing we need is a central banner under which we can unite. Together we can better pool resources for making an impact when showing politicians and government what is possible and explaining why it's wholesome and valuable. There are great open ed tech projects and people in many countries, already aligned with our goals, some aware of one another and some not. We need to be reaching out to them and creating for ourselves a central-ish home, sharing a branding, slogans, meetings, outreach resources, technical resources, links to one another's people and projects, and so on.

I would love to be part of such a group, a movement, and to have a role in building that.


#openEdTech #awesomeFOSS #degoogled #campaign #outreach

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