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Monday, March 23, 2009

My first Mozilla Education Status call

Mozilla is the only open source community which I have understood a little and also to which I have contributed a little. I always wanted to make my college a sort of Mozilla hub with several contributors and many feature developments happening out of my college. It actually started with an idea of a "Complete Open Source Hub", but it got reduced to just "Mozilla Hub" (either because of my laziness or because of lack of resources). Anyways I did not take any proactive steps towards that wish of mine, until recently when our college got the "Autonomous" status. That is when I realized that bringing open source software development in the course mainstream has become a lot easier as the power to form the syllabus and conduct the tests and examination rests with my college itself and not the University.

Just when I thought of doing something tangible, Mozilla came up with their "Mozilla in Education" program. This is a brilliant idea to drive open source into the student community and also give the students opportunities to work on real world applications. I was impressed by this program the very moment I read about it. I decided to present this idea to my HOD at the college and get him to start working offering Mozilla education to students in my college. I started reading more about it and today I also attended my first Mozilla Education status meeting conference call, which happens every week. I got a wealth of information.

This week we had Pascal F presenting to us about the "Design Challenge" program organized by the Mozilla Labs. He talked to us about the way in which they organized this program. It was all very inspiring. They had nearly 30-35 people from different parts of the world (literally). In this contest the students initially submitted mock-ups of their ideas, nearly 40 of them. Amongst those, 30 fully completed mock-ups were chosen for the second level, in which the students got mentoring by some the well known names in the Mozilla community. The mentoring consists of 10 Webinar sessions conducted using WebEx, over a period of 3 weeks. This is going on currently and will end at the end of this month. These mentoring sessions aim at converting those mock-ups into working prototypes. At the end, the best prototypes are given honors.

During the presentation Pascal mentioned some interesting things. Of the students from various countries, it was the students from so called "2nd World Countries" (like Romania, India, Argentina, etc.. ) who showed a lot more interest than their US counterparts. There was tremendous enthusiasm in them where as the students from US expected -- in his own words -- "being entertained" and "spoon-fed". Though this is an alarming thing when viewed from a global perspective, I was personally very happy that Indian students, my fellow country-men, have shown such dedication. Pascal also mentioned that they were so interested that they were up in the middle of the nights for the webinars. All in all, I am even more motivated to bring open source in general and mozilla in particular to my college.

I decided to take this program as an example and present it to my HOD this Saturday and try and make him accept this and similar programs as official ones and the projects done in such programs be considered for the completion of the course goals.

Thank you Pascal, thank you Mozilla. Lets hope to have a Mozilla India Center, at least an unofficial one at my college SJCE. :-)

1 comment:

  1. Excellent idea boss. Please keep us posted on how this goes.