Digitisation and Education — How the AlekSIS project fosters co-creation of school software by young people
2020-09-18, 12:35–13:15 (Europe/Lisbon), Virtual

Free software is all about participation, and projects can empower young people to participate by designing their software in a way that opens it up for learning and teaching in education. This talk reports from the AlekSIS project that develops real-world educational software that is intended to be extended by the students that actually work with it.

Free software is all about participation, and this means that every user is a potential contributor. While all communities should keep this in mind, there is a very special target group that we can strive to empower through education: Young users, i.e. children and adolescents, both personally and in schools. Using the natural mentoring environment in schools, open software can be designed in a way that opens it for learning and teaching code, and contributing to real world software in class.

We want to invite the audience on a journey from looking at tool requirements in schools and the many ways that young people use software, through experiences in convincing teachers that free software and helping students to participate in their digital world is important, right to impressions of how the AlekSIS project uses the Django ecosystem to create an enterprise-grade, ready to use school information system that still can be extended and co-designed by teachers, students and computer classes. Doing so, we want to look into the technical aspects of how we leverage the Django framework, thought-through coding style and modularisation, combined with a layer of abstraction to create a platform and app ecosystem that allow student groups to create their own apps for use cases at their schools, as well as into some pedagogic aspects of how a decentral group of software engineers, young students and teachers work together in an agile project.

In the schools which drive the project, teachers benefit from a very well-fitted system they co-designed, and students benefit from computer lessons that result in a visible impact on their own environment instead of one-time projects from text books.

See also: Slides

Born 2004, I am just the average junior high school student from a small village named Dabringhausen in Germany (near Cologne and Düsseldorf). Average, except for the fact that, starting from my 13th birthday, I have by now contributed roughly 50,000 lines of code to free software projects, mostly related to Python and Django applications.

Having participated in some coding workshops by Teckids, the free software youth organisation, I quickly started contributing to tools used there, and throughout time became a core contributor to several educational software projects, Debian Edu and the AlekSIS school information system ranked foremost.

When not coding or caring for DevOps infrastructure, I enjoy music, going out geocaching sometimes, and travelling the world for fun and for visiting conferences or development sprints.

System engineer, software developer, and educational enthusiast — this is the combination I have been describing myself as for some time now. It means that I mostly emply my technical background in working at Teckids, the free software organisation, to drive forward free software in education, and help children become contributors in free software projects.