Firstly for all those who turned their noses up at Leeds, you’re wrong it’s really pretty and very nice. Last week I went to Leeds to take part in the National CLC – (City Learning Centre) Conference in Leeds. I was asked to take part by Robbie who runs a CLC in Leeds to talk about Ubuntu Women and the great Ubuntu Community.
I knew diddly squat about CLCs before going over there, I had done some back ground reading on them but nothing really prepared me for what I learned over there. They were a form of school for children/young adults that were different and taught children through different means.
Many of the CLCs in the UK are facing large budget cuts due to lack of funding available to them. Having events like this covering a multitude of topics was rather interesting. Even better was having an open source stream! It’s great to see conferences doing this as it gives people an opportunity to learn more about a topic they may have only a little knowledge in and a chance to learn more about an alternative solution that may be available to them.
Here is where I stepped in. My talk title was Ubuntu Women, but we’re more than just a team. We are a part of the Global Ubuntu Community. Having a large vocal presence on many committees, such as the Community Council, the LoCo Council and all of the membership board! We are are also active in other teams, Accessibility, Learning, UWN and many many more. We even offer a mentoring program and run some rather cool competitions open to everyone. This is something that wasn’t happening 6-10 months ago. So we are growing and becoming more active.
While explaining where we are in the community and also the uniques of the community that Ubuntu has above most other groups I also showed how we operate. From a virtual Community to a real life go give someone a hug community. I think, trying to get people to understand the many types of people we have in our community to others is interesting, as something they assume Geeks don’t socialise and in fact we’re a rather sociable bunch of people and very approachable. Which is easier for them to relate to if they know they can approach and talk to people find someone with a real face to ask a question to at an event or know there are people out there with varying degrees of knowledge able to help them.
It was slightly ironic seeing everyone with their iphones, ipads, macbooks and ipods all tweeting and taking notes and in some cases explaining how they give ipod shuffles to students as a reward for when kids reach a certain level of being able to read in a class. All of these things cost a lot of money, surely if your budgets are being slashed people should be looking for alternatives. In the middle of my session I showed how easy it was to download software from the Ubuntu software centre. I downloaded Quickly, and while I’m not a good programmer I do think it’s a great idea and can see the benefits of it for young students who may want to learn and it’s a good way to teach people. Showing off the Software Centre I did get a few people sit up and take notice, explaining all the free software and applications that are available to them and for their students. I’d brought over some Live CDs and handed them out and others took some to bring back to their students so I’m hoping others are interested in looking at alternative solutions.
I did get a chance to talk to some teachers, and asked them why some were so reluctant to move towards using open source as an alternative, was it fear of not knowing about it, fear of it’s use or what? Many said it was to do with integration with other CLCs so if one CLC did it, more would seemed to be the consensus. More did ask about the software centre, which I think is a positive sign.
It was interesting to note that some CLCs do use Ubuntu in their centres, some of the teachers use it in their homes, so they do know it is out there! Some of the CLCs are pushing for it to be used more, again issues such as administration and training are the key obstacles they face in order to make a full switch over. Every time during the talks when speakers gave a solution or software they used they seemed to only chose applications that worked on windows only or Mac only. (I did try as much as I could to tweet an open source alternative #clcs10)
I’ve posted my slides here if anyone is interested in them. Thanks again to the lovely folks at the CLC Leeds who were excellent hosts and again great to see a stream on Open Source making it’s way into the timetable.
Another interesting note, 18 speakers spoke over the two days. There were two women and both of us spoke on Open Source,the other was MáirínDuffy