Twelve student attendees, ranging from grades 7 through 12, learned the definition and history of open source and were shown examples of open software, hardware and content. In addition, students had an opportunity to experience many of these examples on laptops in the Create IT Classroom. The hands-on portion of the workshop was extremely well received and the session was lively.
The day also included a tour of the newly opened Open IT Lab. There, students had the opportunity to see open source at work on a variety of platforms, including a Dell Touchscreen, a 27 inch iMac, a One-Laptop-Per-Child, a Linux netbook and laptop and a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic. They also received a free copy of the Ubuntu 11.04 operating system, which was new to many.
The highlight of the day was no doubt the number of parents that accompanied their children to the workshop and talked with us about the Open topic. Everyone was genuinely interested and most had no idea there were less expensive alternatives (and in many cases free) to proprietary software currently being used. When they learned many of the largest IT companies in the country are now hiring people with open source knowledge and paying excellent salaries, the interest went from passive to very active. This was great to see.
The Open IT Lab will continue to present workshops on the Open/Source topic in the weeks and months ahead and we hope many more people attend in the future. The ‘open’ methodology is quickly gaining momentum, especially among younger IT students and professionals, and more companies are incorporating it into their infrastructure. The more people know about it the more marketable they’ll be in the future.
Todd Lewis is the Founder of the Open IT Lab at IT-oLogy. He also serves as Chair of POSSCON, one of the largest open source conferences on the east coast, and managing partner of Palmetto Computer Labs, an open source consulting company.