Friday, May 01, 2009

BarCamp in a Box

I was thinking ahead to where the ESD maybe bused kids to CubeSpace, or a place like it, so that BarCamps might happen, similar to science fairs in that people man booths, take turns at the microphone, practice the Art of Lightning Talks.

However, teachers wouldn't be comfortable surrendering control to a bunch of alien adult strangers, so the idea would be for them to own and run the event, having been through it themselves. Take an average faculty and remap to FOSS boss positions. The english teacher learns DOM, some puppet string JavaScript, journalism takes firewall, history takes file management (a kind of sysadmin), and throw math teachers to the Pythons why not, or the Ruby mines? Teachers might think about it ahead of time, plus this isn't about typecasting or locking into a role. It's a quick training to give the flavor, then it's yours to have and to hold.

Whereas Python is looking strong along the discrete math track, sometimes bypassing computer science enroute to philosophy maybe, I'm realizing it's the whole ecosystem that makes us powerful, and that means Apache, also Jython and IronPython, not just the C version, currently the classic fast one everyone understands (is there a PyPy channel on YouTube yet?). We're close to Perl, obviously, but also to Postgres and MySQL, the latter becoming Sun and then Oracle or whatever epic myth. My latest QUIPP main menu routes into Elephant Land, but then I'm not in charge of all decisions DB.

That's why I'm thinking the EduPython conference, say at Pacific University, will have to wait for FOSS culture more generally to make some dent in education. We can't do it alone, as Pythonistas. We need our gnu and penguin friends across the board. In Portland, that means places like Free Geek and CubeSpace. In Chicago, there's Chipy. I can't tell you how it is in your town, so don't send me those questions. Ask around locally, check a coffee shop.

About the BarCamp training: I'd also be for sending 'em home with a goodie bag of DVD samples (yes, freely copiable), high quality high def stuff, suitable for classroom use. This gives you more to show and tell about when you get back to the day job, newly empowered to put new skills to good use. Your students will benefit, at least that's how we look at it, but allow for opt out (that's the default -- to opt in might involve jumping through some hoops, showing initiative in various ways, e.g. by volunteering at a PyCon, perhaps in Hong Kong?).