Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Education Project --- Coming India

Thanks Ben - for this :-)

Very Nice work!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Education Project developer team - /me in!

Today I was officially added as Domain Developer for OOo Project!

It has been wonderful - and this is time to hack hard. :-)
So I am now part of wonderful small dev team at Education Project.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

OOo /me coming - first cws nearing completion -- yo!

Finally, we (/me and ericb2) seem to have finished first part of wae4binfilter01 (fixing warnings in binfilter module) and we are searching for developer to review our changes. It has been wonderful experience working with ericb2 and other devs at edu and dev channel :) Now is time for issue 972 and ctors initializations.

It is great fun learning while contributing here with OOo ;-)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Starting a new effort -- Fixing warnings

At last after a month of rooming at #education.openoffice.org I started coding. It is big relief. Few days back ericb started a game of fixing warnings in old module binfilter which is not used much in OOo now. But as it goes any project needs to keep warnings as low as possible.
/me has some experience with python, perl, C but nothing with C++ but this game seems to be nice way to get started. ;-) So, I started an effort. And I am updating here about my progress on daily basis now.
It has been a wonderful experience at verious classrooms and sessions held on #irc channel.

Keep tuned will post about experience with classrooms in detail some time soon.

Rakesh Pandit

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A mac mini for the OpenOffice Education projet

I have just received a Mac-mini, a little computer from Macintosh company. With this new machine I can start to work to improve the scanner use under OpenOffice.org MacPort.

But I never used MacOs before, so the first step now is to set-up a complete developement environement under MacOS X Tiger. (Yes I don't have Leopard ...). I'm starting to have a look about Xcode, some tips for the dev with Mac Os and so. Don't hesitate to give me some feedback about that.

I really would like thanks obr who gave it to the OpenOffice Education Project ! I really hope that I will make a good use of it.

And naturally I will try to give some news about my progression in this task. Stay stuned !

Monday, April 28, 2008

First classroom on 7th of May


After some regular discussions with Vikram Vincent and Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay on IRC,I think we can start the ClassRoom program we scheduled some times ago.

Objective: help beginners willing to contribute, to discover the
development side of OpenOffice.org project, and try to solve, or at
least provide some light to : " What, Where, Who, How , Whom ask ..."
questions any newcomer asks.

The logs will be put on the wiki, thus all the community will be able
to access the knowledge, and I expect to see the developers I
contacted to confirm they will contribute.

Because this is the first one, we'll start with the beginning, and
I'll (exceptionaly) start myself the ClassRoom.

Proposed Date: Wednesday 7th of May 2008,
Hour : 11:00 ( Paris hour ) ~ 14:30 India hour ( i.e; Vincent
hour ;-) )
Mode: as IRC meeting. Server : irc.freenode.net Channel :

Content :

Part 1:

1) Discover the OpenOffice.org project

Other points, suggested by Vincent Vikram :

2) where is the code
3) I got the code ... now where do I start in the code ?
4) What do I need to know in advance
5) How good is the documentation documentation

Part 2:
Questions from the attendees

Part 3:

Round table with students, and developers, + define the agenda for
the next ClassRooms, including other questions to be prepared in advance

Suggestions ? Opinions ?

Last but not least, please note carefully:

- we have choosen the IRC way, because unfortunaly, not everybody has
a nice Internet connexion, with good bandwidth, and so on.
- if you have a proposal for a better way of communication, please
propose, and organize it !!
- Everything about the content (the log), and _after_ the
presentation (comments, additional links ..etc) will be on the wiki
- ALL contributions are WELCOME : means such thing will work if and
only if _several_ people join the effort and contribute, because we
have to do everything from scratch.

Best regards,
Eric Bachard

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some random notes around the Education Project

After a long time the IRC meeting for the Education Project started. However, Murphy being himself dropped in and an unforeseen power outage kept me out of the IRC.

(Note to myself: stop using qualifying words like unforeseen and the like. It is like saying "undue" stress. Every kind of stress is undue, there's no due stress)

The idea I had was to talk about two things:

o Community Building around the Education Project

o Visibility of the Education Project

the other aspect which is being addressed right now (by Eric B) is development work for OO.o

A project has at least 3 kinds of participants in a "community" : creators, consumers and critics. The objective is to use the constructive feedback of the last group along with the enthusiasm of the second to increase the tribe of the first. Sometime back there had been a singular post about Campus Representatives for OO.o. SUN already has a Campus Representative Program for Solaris / OpenSolaris and it is a good way to increase the outreach into the diverse cultures and processes of education that we have across the globe. A CR would be a person who can motivate, coach, guide potential creators / contributors towards appropriate mentors within the Education Project. Additionally, a CR should also be someone who can create, sustain and encourage local communities in the local area. It would be impossible for the Education Project to reach out to all possible places unless there are bonds with community leaders already strongly forged.

To ensure that CRs have things to talk about, there is a requirement to put in place:

+ more development tasks in addition to the ones already put on the wiki

- development tasks which have a resonance locally in addition to being valuable for OO.o project as a whole (the IndLinux project has been talking about doing things around enchant and spell checkers)

+ an increased participation and collaboration between existing incubator and recognized projects within OO.o when it comes to this project

+ "classrooms" for contributors on a regular schedule from developers within OO.o projects

- providing potential contributors with content, lessons, HowTo and mentoring them towards producing code

All of the above will require much more than the few of us in the Education Project. It will require some bit of help from SUN - towards creating the charter for Campus Representatives and participation of its developers.

OO.o is not part of GSoC and was not part of GHOP, so there's a chance that we will lose out on a substantial part of the student population who wish to contribute to a FOSS project. This would require that the visibility of the Education Project as a single window towards getting mentoring for contribution to various OO.o projects, be increased in a much larger quantum now. That can happen via blogs, talks, presentations, content on wiki.

The way I see it, as on date we have a numerous good ideas. But not much in terms of actual proposals eg. wants to coach xy students in . Unless we have proposals, the fear I have is that we might end up building a community for which we don't have anything to offer.

Before OO.o Conference at Beijing, we need to target getting in place:

+ classrooms (starting April at least 3 a month)

+ a much more richer task list

+ Campus Representative Program (at least 50 CRs)

I am proposing that we keep the focus on creating curricula on the back-burner for the moment.

Thoughts, feedback and criticisms appreciated and welcome

Friday, March 7, 2008

Education Project and welcome new students

Today, George Armah, student at Lafayette College of Easton (Pennsylvania), joined the #ooo_macport IRC channel, because he wanted to propose ideas for a potential Google SoC application.

After a short discussion about what George had in mind to make Aqua version more Mac like, I proposed him the right people to be contacted.

Afterwards, we continued to discuss a bit, and the usual problem appeared:

- lost on the wiki ...
- whom ask ?
- who does what ...
- how start progressively for Mac OS X port (works for any other port )

After all these (normal) questions, I explained there is Education Project, and presented the existing Education Project effort, including the spirit of the task.

Glad to see George enjoyed :)

I hope to see more students joining, but don't forget, teachers are welcome too ;-)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Implement a new Canvas on Mac OS X

Thanks to Thorsten Behrens, from Novell, who updated the information in new canvas implementation using Core Graphic on Mac OS X .

Just my imagination, but this application, belonging to Education Project effort, could become a nice Google Summer of Code too.

Our role is to accompany the peers teacher/student in the OpenOffice.org Project discovery.

Are you student, and interested to join ?

server irc.freenode.net
channel #education.openoffice.org

Mailing list. dev@education.openoffice.org is the good one (please subscribe before)

You want to discover Education Project ? => read our Welcome !

Monday, March 3, 2008

Education Project Effort

An effort (thanks to the UNO Team for the definition) consists of the following things:

* a goal or a mission,
* to solve a problem,
* while using a solution,
* optionally having a time plan,
* a list of things which need to be done, these may directly be some content (e.g. specifications, implementations, tests, articles) or other efforts, and
* a status (e.g. planned, in progress, finished, cancelled).

To discover new developers and build a bridge between OpenOffice.org Project and Educational System, OpenOffice.org Education Project proposes applications, doable in one or two month of work for a student ( time to discover everything, and do the real work). All these applications below are correlated with IssueZilla issues, and need new code to be solved.

What we propose is to accompany the peers teachers/students solving the issues: the work must be done by the student, and we are resources. This means, most of the time, we have no clue about the solution (but we could work on it), or the needed changes, and sometimes, just a little change in the code can solve the issue. Sometimes, a lot of code can be needed.

The most important is to work together, and make the students discover OpenOffice.org source code and organisation.

The applications are classed

- by difficulty level (more stars means means more work and more difficult to be solved )

- by themes, e.g. Mac OS X

For further information, please look Education Project Effort

Want to contact us ?

serveur irc.freenode.net
channel #education.openoffice.org

Mailing list. dev@education.openoffice.org is the good one (please subscribe before)

You want to discover Education Project ? => read our Welcome !

Friday, February 1, 2008

Virtual Classrooms and the Education Project

Over the last two weekly IRC meetings (I could not attend yesterday's but read the scrollback) we have been discussing about setting up IRC "Classrooms".

This is about putting in place a defined and regular timetable when developers can hold "classes" in the virtual world of interwebs and IRC and generate contributions towards their projects. Using mailing lists or IRC for classrooms is not an unique phenomenon by any means. If I recall well, LinuxChix has a "Courses" mailing list and Ubuntu (via Ubuntu Women ?) have IRC classrooms on packaging and the like.

The main idea is to: [i] ensure that there is a scheduled contact with the developers and [ii] create content that can be re-used in the larger context of making a curricula for OpenOffice.org

So, once we have the classroom topic along with an abstract (if possible), the developer would be putting across the intended audience and the required reading before attending the class. If we have a slide deck ready that would really help towards getting a real "classroom" going (moderating the IRC channel means no questions save those asked to the moderator/operators and thus no random chatter). The classroom is not intended to "teach" how to begin coding. But, the classrooms are intended to allow the developer to coach-mentor potential contributors to OpenOffice.org.

Once we do have a fair amount of interested teachers, we would be going public with the plans and program of this. But ideally we should kick off the project before February ends.

Math baseline alignment

I had a very interesting and productive meeting this morning with Matthias Bauer and Thomas Lange (I'd like to say thank you), about find a solution for issue 972.

The log of the meeting is available on the wiki, and I'll work on a solution.

More information will be added during the today's IRC meeting (if enough people attend)

Todo: write a little roadmap

Monday, January 21, 2008

What an "Effort" is

Nice idea from Kay Ramme, to create an Effort page. I created the same on Education project wiki page. To be continued.

Friday, January 11, 2008

a teacher's viewpoint

Today i had the happy experience to teach (OpenOffice) in the very primary school where i was as a kid. The kids today had no problems with OpenOffice and we even started to make a video tutorial (not finished due to lack of time). Later i had the opportunity to talk with the schools computer teacher.

Curious, i asked about her opinion toward OpenOffice because i noted that OpenOffice was already installed on all computers in the computer room.

She told me that she would prefer M$-Office to be (additional) installed due to several reasons:

* Her knowledge and teaching material (books) is M$-Office only.

* The kids are often supervised by parents instead of teachers when in the computer room and the parents know only M$-Office and will not understand why the school can not afford M$-Office.

* The schools after the primary school (kids go here from 6 years old until 10 years old) will mostly not have OpenOffice installed but M$-Office instead. Same argument for possible workplaces after school.

* Some teachers like to print out documents in the school's Computer room. The documents are -of course- made with M$-Word from the teachers private computer and there were problems printing them out with OO.Writer.

While i have my own opinion on some of this points i must admit that all of them are valid arguments from the teachers perspective.

I will do my best to make OpenSource Software (like Open Office) more attractive for the school and it's teachers but i think in the end it does not count how much better OpenSource software is .. what count is the opinion of the people involved.
Sadly, changing someone's opinion is so much harder than changing a piece of code.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Electronic bytes of random ink splotches

I read the Year end summary of the Education Project a couple of times today. One of the reasons could be that I was reading up this book as well and somewhere along the line I realized that it is really true about what is said about the education system in India (articles like these notwithstanding) - that students are taught how to answer questions and memorize facts not to "learn" the subject. That is an aspect which I think is reflected in the observations (of Peter Junge) in terms of why OpenOffice.org is a tough bit to slip into the curricula and thus encourage adoption.

I've observed that the reason OpenOffice.org is not adopted by teachers and adapted to their teaching pedagogy is that there is that resistance to (re)learning skills. And this is perhaps where the VBA bits and Macro Development work could come in handy. Those ideally allow credit based courses (3 credit based optional courses are becoming popular in India) to be created around these activities. A 3 credit course is (if I recall well) around 20 hours of study and practicals ie theory and hands-on. Surprisingly, Microsoft tends to not address this area and focus more on using IDEs and developer environments along with MSDN to be entrenched within the system.

The one aspect of the Education Project that would be required to be addressed with some amount of firmness would be the extent of co-operation the other Projects and sub-projects within OpenOffice.org would be willing to provide to this Project. Or, given that the Education Project during its formative years is going to be working with a larger number of projects by guiding potential contributors, there has to be acceptance of the significance of this effort. Additionally, there has to be a close cohesion between the effort of creating "Certification" modules (or syllabus) which can be adopted. Modules for certification would also allow creation of a subsystem of entrepreneurs around OpenOffice.org with a strong focus on learning services.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

First results for Education project

First, Happy New Year 2008 and Seasons Greatings to all !

Co Lead, with Louis Suarez Potts (Sun ) of Education project, since two months, I replaced Sophie Gautier (Linagora) and I think the New Year is a good occasion to provide the first results.

Education project has an exceptional potential, but everything had to be done. The first urgency was to organize a bit.

We did big progress, because people help a lot, and I'd like to thank people like Raphael Bircher and Nicolas Jeudy for the big work on the website, and Ben Bois for the Logo !

Thanks to Frederic Diaz, Frederic Ollivier and Guy Veyssiere too, for a lot of little things, not always visible, but extremely important.

After some times, of brainstorming, I have analized the situation, and this blog entry is a draft. Of course, I'll reformulate correctly my proposal on the next IRC meeting

1) The begining :

Education Project is an incubator project, officialy created around April 2006.

Existing actions before I joined the project :

Louis Suarez Potts forwarded important infos on the mailing list, and this is an extremely helpfull begining: all the direction pointed by Louis are open and interesting tracks, and I fully agree with the ideas behind this.

For Further informations, see message 1 and message 2 from Louis.

Sophie Gautier explained me all informations concerning French project are available on fr mailing lists archives. e.g. a french dedicated book for secondary school has been written, in collaboration with SCEREN.

2) Actions started since November 2007 :

- New website creation ( currently work in progress )
- Wiki page
- Dedicated welcome in english. Same in French
- an IRC channel has been created, to facilitate the contact with newcomers,
- Weekly meetings (most of the time)
- A common blog for active contributors to Education Project
- fr-educ mailing list has been created, and is very active

3) The current situation of OpenOffice.org in Education System ( French Education system is reference here, but things should be similar elsewhere )

Feedback :

After asking teachers and professors who returned feedback, I discovered several important issues. Some points below are feedback from Peter Junge from RedFlag 2000.

- OpenOffice.org acceptance is low in Education System ( all locales are concerned ). At least it is not what expected.
- there are important MS Office compatibility issues, causing a brake for migrations: companies, administrations ask for .doc e.g. , and one little default in the conversion becomes redhibitive for OpenOffice.org acceptance.
- OpenOffice.org is not much used in Education, because not the first in place, VBA compatibility issues .. etc
- there is intensive lobbying from Microsoft e.g. in most of the places, and introduce OpenOffice.org in schools ( all levels ) seems to be extremely complicated

The main causes of the problem enounced above (please help to improve the list):

- installation of OpenOffice.org is an issue (e.g. network install on Windows, in most of the cases, is not well known)
- some issues reported since a long time, but never fixed, are a reason to not migrate to OpenOffice.org. e.g. : issue 972 : misalignement of equations in formulaes
- compatibility issues ( a lot are reported ) with MS Office format, or new MS Office format

As you can see above, the problem is complicated, and will involve other projects from OpenOffice.org and lead to define precisely Education Project place in OpenOffice.org.

4) Development :

One of the main idea behind Education project: find developers. Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay helped a lot and proposed very interesting ideas.

Draft of existing cases. See examples

Everything is reported on the wiki page, in a sort of Todo list (please help us ! )

Strategy for the project

Please have a look at the First draft

Proposed Roadmap for 2008 ( to be improved and rewritten)

A) To improve and to structure the Education Project :

- describe and improve Education Team ( people , photos, skills .. etc inventory, and write a dedicated page on the website, to give us a face )
- connect with other projects, to define the exact place of Education project
- create the dedicated association, to collect funds for expenses in Education project
- find sponsors and partners
- continue to improve the website: add tools management, localization, define rules for tools hosting, ..etc

B) Documentation :

- start from basics about the project
- write documentation for Windows (i.e. Linux or Mac OS X ) installation, dedicated for schools environments. [ needs important energy ]
- write a documentation for newcomers, explaining how use OpenOffice.org efficiently and take care of the feedback
- PCIE/ECDL : European Computer Driving License / Passeport de Competences Informatique Europeen ( Note: extremely important for the project )
- OpenOffice.org Certification : Education project can contribute, to analyse what is different between user needs and education needs
- Help for OO.o Curricula in University , proposed by Michael Huai from RedFlag 2000
- create a DataBase (Raphael ? ) for tools and videos available on the site

C) Development

- improve the welcome for students : be present at FOSDEM 2008 , doing workshop for code
- continue to identify schools using OpenOffice.org, and improve the partner's list
- continue to ask for feedback, and valorize the work people did for OpenOffice.org
- work on issues like issue 972, documenting everything, and keep traces for newcomers
- test moodle for content management (courses)
- find peers professors / students for applications in developement
- propose applications : e.g. fix little bugs, and create a cws

D) French part :

- continue to improve the academic contacts network, and the visibility of the project
- be present at Solution Linux 2008 ( Paris )
- valorize important tools, and contributors ( OOoHG , Dmaths, DSciences .. etc )
- localize the website
- PCIE/ECDL : European Computer Driving License / Passeport de Competences Informatique Europeen
- start to work with volunteers
- work with Pole de Competences , SCEREN and CNDP

That's all for today :-)

Thanks again to Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay to have read my draft before publication.
Driving innovation through Education or FOSS as a science

It's just the first week of the new year and 2 blog entries caught my attention. They are related and perhaps intertwined in the context of what I write, work for and whom I work with. While I will not be able to provide as erudite reasoning as Louis the combination of these two entries do provide some kind of shape to the amorphous ideas that have been bothering me about the notion of "education" and thereon FOSS projects having "education as a project".

The fun thing about education is that the moment it is uttered there are various ideas that come up. These range from aspects of pedagogy to aims and objectives of the process of education and thereon to the "public commons" aspect of knowledge as a whole. Not a single one of these perspectives are trivial, but for countries in the BRIC regions education provides a means to attain, sustain and increase technical excellence. This is because the very basis of improvement of conditions is based on innovation and more precisely user-focused innovation. This means that to a somewhat disproportionate extent, innovation is driven by science. The interesting bit over here is that FOSS could be thought of as akin to science and thus participating in FOSS development similar to the process of scientific discovery. I use "science" in the widest possible sense of the term and not the limiting notion of "science", "humanities" and the like. Given that FOSS development and contribution takes place through a predefined workspace that is peer reviewed and transparent, the results of a FOSS contribution can stand up to as much critical scrutiny as a scientific breakthrough can.

So, how does that relate to education ? For me, projects like OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, GNOME etc who focus on contributions to their codebase and projects by reaching out to academic institutions are not merely doing the obligatory "let us create more potential contributors" work that till now has been the corporate social responsibility of proprietary companies. It goes above and beyond that towards inculcating a spirit of collaboration that is mandated through the curricula that drives such contributions. It interleaves concepts of classic pedagogy of "chalk the talk" with the much more recent "show-n-tell" method of actually doing things.

We love stories and students love them more than ever. Projects that provide students the stories to work with and provide tools to create their own stories have a far greater chance of buy-in from students, their parents and the teachers. Getting changes incorporated into age-old (and tested ?) curricula is difficult. I sometimes get reminded about one of the greatest reformers from my land and how inspite of personal example it took a longer time for his work of social reform to set in and be accepted.

For various logical (and a smaller set of illogical reasons), institutes are loathe to change status quo on their curricula. And to a small extent, every small technology whim and fancy should not mandate that the curricula be changed. An aspect of the projects that encourage and motivate potential contributors have to be that they provide a real life example of the building blocks that are taught in the classroom. Learning that sodium goes up in flames in contact with water is so much boring when one can toss a lump of it into a lab sink and watch the fun. Chemistry, Physics, Electronics etc are disciplines have for long being widely and gleefully accepted because they allow a feeling of tangible results. Theory can be translated into first-hand observations (I have enough scars from lab experiments to vouch that the method works).

It should be a thing that the Education Project should be thinking about.