FTA Announcement #10: Early Bird Deadline, Highlights, Sustainable OER

Early Bird Registration Deadline coming up!

The deadline for the Early Bird registrations has been extended to November 15th, 2010. After this date, the standard tuition fee (for a 5 ECTS course in 2011) of EUR 380 is applicable. If you want to make use of the 10% Early Bird discount, please register before this date. Note that registration is complete only if the registration form has been sent in correctly and complete and the corresponding tuition fee has been received at the FTA bank account. Registrations close one week before the start of a course or when the maximum number of learners for a course has been reached.

Please also note that all FTA course materials, software and other digital resources are free as in freedom and as in beer, i.e. they provide the Four Freedoms and are published openly online, so you can download them and use them for any purpose. The FTA courses have a certain cost, as we need to have specialised tutors available to guide you through the programme, maintain the Campus and other infrastructures and are continuously working on the improvement and expansion of the programme. In case you can or do not want to pay tuition fees, you can access the course materials through the FTA website and use them for self-study.

Module Highlights

On January 10, 2011, the first trimester of the continued FTA will take off. During this trimester we offer seven different modules. Here are two highlights!

  • Implementation of Free Software and Case Studies

This course examines the concepts related to Free Software business and allows us to know and identify concepts related to its production. The FTA learner will become familiar with agencies and projects related to the implementation of Free Software in the public sector and private sector through different case studies. The Case of SchoolNet Namibia is one of those cases. In partnership with organisations from the public, private and civil sectors, as well as international agencies and educational institutions, SchoolNet internet-enabled schools and developed a model for doing this sustainably in the most difficult of Namibian conditions. The model featured Free Software and prioritised free and open educational resources to maximise the extent to which these could be copied, adapted for local needs and shared for community benefit.

While going through the course materials, the FTA learner will get to
know, identify and understand the consequences of the use and exploitation of Free Software in different areas of implementation. This course also studies how to approach and implement projects based on Free Software, projects to migrate, production and development methodologies and business projects related with Free Software.

  • Free Software Tools and Utilities

This interesting course has not yet been offered at the FTA before. This tools and utilities course will introduce students to some of the programs designed for the desktop environments of end users. We can use these programs to browse the Internet securely (Mozilla), manage our e-mail and work in groups (Evolution) and to create office documents like text documents, spreadsheets and presentations (OpenOffice.org). On this course, learners will also discover how to work with these free tools in privative environments such as Microsoft Windows, as well as in GNU/Linux of course.

Free Software Foundation joins the FTA Associate Partner Network

The FTA and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced last Tuesday their partnership in the FTA's Associate Partner Network. The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software - particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants - and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux.

The FSF will provide special video guest lectures in FTA courses and encourage volunteers to collaborate in the maintenance of existing materials and the production of new courses. The FTA provides the FSF Associate Membership (http://www.fsf.org/associate/) with 30 discount vouchers for FTA courses each trimester.

Read the full press release:

* Free Software Foundation: http://www.fsf.org/news/free-technology-academy

* Free Technology Academy: http://ftacademy.org/announce/fsf

FTA Board meets and confirms continuation

During the last week of October, the FTA Board came together in Barcelona for a three-day long meeting. Apart from discussing the current status of the FTA, varying from aspects of Quality Assurance to technical specifications of the Campus, a major step was taken towards the future of the FTA. The FTA Board came forth with an organisational and business model which fits in the different approaches of the FTA Consortium Partners. Although it was already clear that the FTA would continue after the period initially funded by the European Commission, an important advancement has been achieved in order to run the FTA smoothly and continuously from 2011 onwards.

Models for sustainability of Open Educational Resources

The FTA Partners have collaboratively published an article about models for sustainability of Open Educational Resources.

The decision to publish educational materials openly and under free
licenses brings up the challenge of doing it in a sustainable way. Some
lessons can be learned from the business models for production, maintenance and distribution of Free Software. The Free Technology Academy (FTA) has taken on these challenges and has implemented some of these models. The authors briefly review the FTA educational programme, methodologies and organisation, and see to which extent these models are proving successful in the case of the FTA.

"Free Technology Academy: Towards sustainable production of free
educational materials", Conference paper presented at the FCRC, Berlin,
October 2010:


FTA presentations in the upcoming weeks

More and more so-called roadshows are done by the FTA Consortium Partners: presentations, workshops, showcases, demonstrations, etcetera. Last weekend we were present at the International Commons Conference in Belrin, Germany, and the coming weeks are full of roadshows as well. They do not just focus on the FTA, but put the FTA in a broader setting. For example during the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival, where a workshop on the production of a peer2peer course will take place. And a gathering to discuss the possibilities of a complete International Master Programme. The paper on models for sustainability of Open Educational Resources will be presented at the Open ED Conference as well as at the OSS Symposium - each time with a twist. In France, a report on 'the FTA experience' will be given.

  • Open Education Conference (Open ED) [1] - Barcelona, Spain, November 2-4, 2010
  • Mozilla Drumbeat Festival [2] - Barcelona, Spain, November 3-5, 2010
  • fOSSa (Free Open Source Academia Conference) [3] - Grenoble, France, November 8-10,2010
  • OSS Symposium [4] - Rotterdam, the Netherlands, November 11, 2010

[1] http://openedconference.org/2010/
[2] http://www.drumbeat.org/drumbeat_festival_2010
[3] http://fossa2010.inrialpes.fr/
[4] http://www.ckc-seminars.nl/osc/

About the Free Technology Academy

A Consortium formed by the Open University of Catalonia (Spain), the Open University of the Netherlands and the University of Agder (Norway) and led by the Free Knowledge Institute (FKI), the FTA has received the support from the EC's Lifelong Learning Programme to set up an international educational programme on Free Software. The courses are taught completely online in a virtual campus based on the Campus Project interoperability framework.

Following the Open Educational Resources movement, all learning materials are freely available through the Internet. The use of Free Software (also referred to as Open Source software or Libre Software) is rapidly expanding in governmental and private organisations. However, still only a limited number of ICT professionals, teachers and decision makers have sufficient knowledge and expertise in these new fields. The Free Technology Academy aims to address this gap by providing high level courses that fit into larger Master Programmes at the participating universities.