Every so often, I come across an idea that really grabs my attention and that I really want to see work. This is one: An innovation from Lloyd Hardy in Cong, Co. Mayo, for open-source, third-level learning. In fact, instead of just blogging his plan after I read about it, I was moved to get in contact with him to find out more.
So, over the last few days, we have been discussing the Free Software University (FSU) and his plans for the online college. Hardy says he has already lined up 150 tutors and learners keen to get going. The lessons will be open source and made available free of charge to students. He is also quick to point out that open source means more than free of charge. “It means free as in freedom,” he says.
Licensing will fall under the Affero General Public License (AGPL). “The one thing we need to do in this ideology is to protect the innovation of students from abuse. The AGPL allows us to do that,” said Hardy. “In this way, we hope to better ourselves – as a band of learners and to provide a fertile environment for the latest innovation,” he added.
No certifications or accreditation are available yet, but that should not deter serious students from taking third-party tests such as the American College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Hardy hopes to have some courses available in the coming months. Those will probably deal with web development, GNU/Linux scripting, Joomla and so on.
Hardy is hoping to offer a rich learning environment where students can draw on fellow learners, tutors and industry partners. “The means by which we ‘afford’ such qualified tuition is by ‘industry partnering’, where any company who would like to interact as closely as possible to a body of researchers can become involved. The company benefits by having access to new technologies and by having students work on their real-world projects, which gives students rich working environment experience,” he said.
As I mentioned, this is an idea that really grabbed my attention. I even wrote up a newspaper article on it, and sent it off to the Sunday Business Post earlier today. I’ll have a lot more to say on this subject, but I wanted to make an initial blog posting now to help get the word out.