Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce LCA 2011: Students espouse the virtues of FOSS

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Shane Geddes and his mates from the Albany High School in Auckland - the first school in New Zealand that uses only free and open source software - were back at the Australian national Linux conference in Brisbane today.

Last year the school's principal Mark Osborne and Geddes were both featured in iTWire's coverage of the LCA - which was held in Wellington.

Geddes was back with two of his classmates - Andrew Hill and Lekshmen Kannan - to speak at the mini-conf titled FOSS in Research and Student Innovation.

The difference was that this time the three students were on their own. Watching over them was their IT teacher. It made a big difference to see earnest children speak about what FOSS has helped them do and how it helps them in their education.

The presentation was well orchestrated, with the three boys taking it in turns to highlight one aspect of their remarkable school experiment at a time.

The software they use is primarily Drupal, Pligg and Status.Net. Drupal has been used to build a site called OurTube where videos are shared.

Teachers use the site to provide learning videos so that students can access them any time and from anywhere. The students can submit videos too but they are moderated; they use videos for both study and help.

Pligg is used for bookmarking; teachers can build up a list of favourites that help students learn. The students can add their own bookmarks and this helps the teachers.

Status.Net is used to run a micro-blog which is more of a fun thing than strictly academic. RSS feeds from all three of these sites is fed onto the school home page so that students can see the latest links in one place. (Below: Lekshmen Kannan, Shane Geddes and Andrew Hill)
Lekshmen Kanna, Shane Geddes and Andrew Hill


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.