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Re: [school-discuss] FOSS-Related Curricula

Justin <jriddiough@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> the website would work sort of as a directory of resources in content that is
> published by a foundation, while promoting the FLOSS/FOSS software that
> displays it. 

Yes. This particular idea is to create an integrated suite of licensed structured lesson plans that pay royalties back to the interactive lesson plan authors while also furthering funding for the FOSS application itself. So if a member of the Blender 3D community (not necessarily a programmer) wants to write a lesson plan, part of the royalties goes to them, and perhaps part would go to Blender's own development fund (or in the case of small projects, even directly to an individual). The content creator can readily use Wink or CamStudio, etc.

The foundation would serve as editorial staff, scope&sequence curriculum planner, publishing resource, etc.

> SchoolForge could make something off of the skim, and the results
> could back into promoting the community - not a bad deal. 

There are a few problems... overhead, costs, margins. There'd have to be a workable formula to keep the money-pump balanced & good marketing to support it. The FOSS projects would be natural allies in promoting this to schools b/c it helps them fund their own work.

It's not enough to ask for donations for complex software that lack good documentation ... the money will start flowing when people see a movie that shows how (easy it is :-) to use the software.

There are a number of problems... some free softwares are very worthy but are not FOSS, bringing up legal issues that entail whether an app would remain free for general use.

> It could also extend the use of open source software in schools.

With enough distribution and awareness, these apps could become de facto standards. IOW everyone would know about it and know how to use it, regardless of locale. Reminds me of Taoist Tai Chi .. almost nobody uses the form so it's hard to find someone else who does it, but the Chinese standard form is nearly universal, it's easy to find TC partners who do the standard long form...

> What would happen if going this direction was a success beyond
> all possible imagination - the foundation did well, and big publishers
> started making changes to create their own similar distribution
> systems (seems like they would adapt rather then adopt.) 

Yes, with ubiquity & so on, there'd be competition. But the software communities could offer a price-point advantage w/ the added awareness benefit that buying from them benefits the development of the software itself.

> Not that proprietary is always a bad thing, but looking back, is this a
> direction that has made the materials any more affordable or
> globally accessible?  Now consider open source software/FLOSS,
> its affordability and accessibility, and the momentum it has
> picked up.. it seems like there is so much contrast here that it's
> an unfair comparison. 

Well put.
After considering some of these ideas, and about ways that SchoolForge could bring people in, and if there were a banner system that promoted member efforts, would the idea of a sort of voluntary co-op for ads to be presented on larger networks be desirable? That led me to think, well, instead of chipping in to get advertising, maybe that would be a good reason to allow some advertisements on the website - it could go into a pool that would be used to further promote member efforts.  Hmmm..

It's a slippery slope! I don't see a problem with ads (and not just b/c I block most of them w/ my hosts file... ;-)  but ads for what, and is schoolforge set w/ its non-profit tax exemption, etc. The rotating banner sounds good to me.

FWIW, here's a similar California-based initiative... they're planning 18 months to ramp up, self-funding thereafter. http://www.opensourcetext.org/

I'm discussing this with a K-12 non-profit director who has taken interest in this idea & might have seed money. We'll see how it goes.


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