Schools across Poland are being approached to use open source to introduce students to ICT and software development, and to build on the success of a three-year pilot involving almost 7000 school children in over 300 schools. The Polish free software advocacy group FWIOO (Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania) is contacting new schools, to interest them in the "Ubuntu School Remix", a tailored version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution and other tangible results of the pilot, such as teaching scenario's and practical teaching aids.
The schools are offered a complete and publicly available solution for teaching programming to their pupils, for example using FreePascal and Scratch application development tools to interact with Arduino do-it-yourself kits. "Our main goal is to get students interested in technology", explains Michał Woźniak FWIOO's president of the board. "But most important is that they find it fun."
The promotion campaign follows the completion of FWIOO's three-year pilot. All teaching aids, publications and the Ubuntu School Remix have been independently validated by experts from the Centre for Development of Education, an agency of Poland's Ministry of Education. The ministry is one of the funders of the project.
The pre-configured software will soon be available for download on the project's website. Schools will then be able to install a server, intended for the teachers' workstations, and provide students a bootable USB-key, says Woźniak. "We compare it to a cloud in a pocket, giving students access to their applications and their documents on any PC that supports booting from USB."
"The e-Swoi project uses only free and open source tools", says Woźniak. "This is crucial, for it gives the students the freedom to work and share it in any way they want. Neither school nor student is locked into expensive proprietary software, and anybody who wants to build on the success of the project can do so."
FWIOO is finalising the last parts of the configuration and completing the documentation. "It is currently only available in Polish, but we welcome others to have a look and help internationalise the tools", Woźniak said.