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EUROPEAN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME ON FREE SOFTWARE

Via Wouter Tebbens:

PRESS RELEASE:

EC SUPPORTS EUROPEAN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME ON FREE SOFTWARE
Free Technology Academy set up as distance learning campus

A Consortium formed by three universities and led by the Free Knowledge
Institute (FKI) has received the support from the EC's Lifelong Learning
Programme to offer an international educational programme on Free
Software. Following the Open Educational Resources movement, all
learning materials will be freely available through the Internet.
The
use of Free Software (also referred to as Open Source software or Libre
Software) is expanding rapidly in governmental and private
organisations. However, still only a limited number of IT professionals,
teachers and decision makers have sufficient knowledge and expertise in
these new fields. In order to cover this gap, the Free Knowledge
Institute and three European universities have founded the Free
Technology Academy. The first course materials will be available after
this summer.

Policies on Free Software

Governments worldwide stimulate the use of Free Software (such as the
GNU/Linux operating system and the Firefox web browser), so that users
become less dependent on one single software vendor. In contrast to
proprietary software, Free Software can be used, copied, studied,
modified and redistributed freely. Therefore, Free Software offers
freedom to learn, freedom to teach, freedom of competition and freedom
of speech. Open Standards and the ability to exchange data and to share
information and knowledge have become essential for cost-effective,
flexible and transparent processes in government and business.

In the Netherlands, the government has launched the action plan
“Netherlands in Open Connection” to promote the use of open standards
and Free Software in the public and semi-public sector. The Spanish
government, together with several regional governments and major IT
companies, set up a national reference centre for the use of ICT
technologies based on Free Software. Many other European countries have
launched their own initiatives in this direction.

In order to enable IT professionals, students, teachers and decision
makers to further their knowledge in this area, a distance learning
programme will be set up with specific learning modules. In developing
and transitional countries there is a lack of knowledge as well, while
its significance is evident. Through the Free Technology Academy's
distance learning programme the option to enhance their knowledge will
be feasible for people worldwide.

Free Technology Academy and master programmes

The Free Technology Academy (FTA), initiated by the Free Knowledge
Institute and financially supported by the Life Long Learning programme
(LLP) of the European Commission, is a collaboration between the FKI and
three European universities: Open Universiteit Nederland, Universitat
Oberta de Catalunya in Spain and the Portuguese Instituto Superior de
Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa.

The Free Technology Academy consists of an advanced virtual campus with
course modules that can be followed entirely on-line. The learning
materials are Open Educational Resources that can be studied freely, but
learners enrolled in the FTA will be guided by professional teaching
staff from the participating universities. The full master programme can
be concluded at one of the three universities.

Leading

Although the production and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) is
expanding rapidly, few experiences of real world usage exist. The
educational programme of the Free Technology Academy is a wonderful
showcase of the collaborative production and exploitation of such freely
licensed course materials.

The FTA Consortium partners aim to accelerate the adoption of Free
Software and Free Knowledge by working on strategic projects like the
FTA, the international SELF Project, and other initiatives. They
collaborate with parties to set up a solid ecosystem for the production
of free educational materials. With these projects, the FTA Consortium
partners are among the innovators of the knowledge society.

Contact information:

Wouter Tebbens, Free knowledge Institute
tel +31 20 8910.319 or +31 6 22.500.981
wouter@freeknowledge.eu

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