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Opening classrooms through the Australian Curriculum

Project: OpenSTEM

How do we get F/LOS software, hardware, data, standards into our school classrooms? This has been an ongoing debate, and many practical attempts have also been made. What metrics should we use for deciding success and analysing mishaps?

This talk is about one such exploration, happening quietly right now and doing rather well. Engaging students, involving parents, inspiring teachers. Un-boring kids! What is its approach, and why is it working?

It's not about the tools. Just like we cannot "sell" Linux to a desktop user by arguing that "it's better", resources typically don't get adopted for their openness. We all know numerous examples proving this. Rather, the initial reasons for adoption tend to be different ones, and the openness is either a nice bonus or something that can be discussed later. Whatever works, right?

Other aspects of open resources provide a variety of opportunities. They might enable a poorer school to acquire more hands-on gear for their students. They might provide a busy teacher with more suitable resources, quicker, and kept up-to-date. They might allow students to explore a topic or skill in an engaging way that other (proprietary) resources have not made possible, such as turning a previous "tool" into an object of significant learning in itself.

Dozens of senior primary kids (and their teachers, and some parents!) learn how to solder every month, know the difference between a servo and a stepper motor, year 5 students talk and write programs in mnemonics, and that's just a few examples.

And it's not just in the realm of Maths, Science and Technology. History and Geography are right in there, and even aspects of HPE (Health & Physical Education) are touched on. And the Australian Curriculum, rather than being a restrictive hindrance, has proven to be part of what enables the endeavour in core school time with entire co-ed classes, not merely extra-curricular activities!

We'll show what we've got, what we're doing, how we scale, and where we're going (as far as we know). Naturally we'll also cover what we have found doesn't work. As that's useful too!

Arjen Lentz

Arjen has always been a tinkerer and explorer. Possibly most known at LinuxConf on the topic of databases and the BlueHackers initiative, Arjen has also been active for (among other things) disruptive businesses and education. The latter has lately become one of his main avenues of endeavour, working with teachers in local primary and high schools and other organisations such as libraries on engaging students specifically with STEM subjects, in a very broad sense.

Arjen lives near Brisbane with his wife Claire and blended family of 4 kids + cat Figaro and chickens.

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