Two weeks ago, we had the Edu­ca­tion Expo.

Here’s my report, as co-ordin­at­or of the Linux Aus­tralia stand:

Edu­ca­tion Expo
Sat 14 to Sun 15 June
Rose­hill Race­course, Sydney

The Edu­ca­tion Expo is an annu­al trades show tar­geted towards the K‑12 edu­ca­tion­al space. Vis­it­ors con­sist of fam­il­ies and edu­cat­ors. Linux Aus­tralia once again had a stand, with volun­teers spread­ing the word about free and open source software.

As always, we were very suc­cess­ful. With each passing year, the level of aware­ness of FOSS notice­ably improves. Where­as at pre­vi­ous shows we would spend much energy expound­ing the basic con­cepts of FOSS/​Linux, this year most people had either heard of it or were already using FOSS products such as Fire­fox and Open​Of​fice​.org.

One thing we did dif­fer­ently this year was place more focus on FOSS run­ning on Win­dows. Our past efforts have been meet with some res­ist­ance, as installing a dif­fer­ent oper­at­ing sys­tem posed a bar­ri­er to entry that many would not sur­mount. We had plenty of cop­ies of the OpenE­duca­tionDisc to dis­trib­ute, in addi­tion to Fedora, Ubuntu, Edubuntu and Mandriva.

The fact that the NSW Dept of Edu­ca­tion is migrat­ing over 40,000 PCs across the state to Open​Of​fice​.org was a use­ful selling point as well.

Our mar­ket­ing efforts have been improv­ing with each event. Our mes­sage is becom­ing more refined, and our leaf­lets are becom­ing more rel­ev­ant. On the tech­nic­al side, FOSS is becom­ing easi­er and more access­ible, with pro­jects such the afore­men­tioned OpenE­duca­tionDisc and Wubi lead­ing the way.

Our Web pres­ence is improv­ing, too. It’s far easi­er to point a new­bie to just one easy-to-remem­ber URL instead of con­fus­ing them with a list. In addi­tion, I built an edu­ca­tion portal for Linux Aus­tralia just in time for the expo.

There were at least two oth­er stands that were FOSS-friendly. In fact, one of the largest stands were demon­strat­ing their Web-based soft­ware product on about ten com­puters, all of which were run­ning Ubuntu. Oth­er stands expressed real interest when approached.

Oth­er high­lights of our pres­ence included:

  • OLPC XO laptops (from OLPC Aus­tralia)
  • Intel Class­mate PCs (from Man­driva Australia)
  • ASUS Eee PCs
  • laptops show­ing Edubuntu

Rodger Dean has some pho­tos of the event.

A big thanks to every­one who helped at the stand:

  • Ash­ley Lynn
  • Ash­ley Maher
  • Brendan Puck­eridge
  • Dav­id Andresen
  • Glor­ia Arnold
  • Har­ris­on Conlin
  • John Arnold
  • Megha Kanth
  • Pia Waugh
  • Rodger Dean
  • Vicki Burke

A spe­cial thank you goes to Melissa Draper, who was instru­ment­al in ensur­ing the suc­cess of the stand in more ways than one.

LotD: Insur­ance com­pany bets health on open source — I’m quite heav­ily involved in this pro­ject, so need­less to say I’m proud of what we’ve achieved 🙂

Education Expo report / Sridhar Dhanapalan by Sridhar Dhanapalan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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