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 OpenOffice.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 OpenOffice.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 🙂

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