ICT in Education Conference & Expo - Durban ZA

Craig Adams craigaa at karg.co.za
Mon Feb 14 23:57:13 CST 2005

Hi Mark,

I have been in contact with a number of training providers throughout
South Africa for some time as a result of my OpenOffice.org work.

In KZN, and certainly in most parts of South Africa, it is very
difficult for a beginner user of Linux to find basic training. This kind
of training is mostly offered on an ad hoc basis by migration
consultants and service providers.

The ICDL Foundation has developed training material and tests for the
Linux desktop, obviously focusing on OpenOffice.org, which is available
at no cost to all ICDL training centres. Unfortunately, most of these
centres are unaware of this material and/or are unwilling to offer the

At the advanced level, there is no difficulty in sourcing material or
training such as the LPA, CLE or Linux+ in South Africa. In KZN,
advanced training is only offered once every three to four months when
demand for a course grows sufficiently to justify bringing an instructor
in from Gauteng.

Training Ubuntu

In terms of encouraging training houses to provide courses for Ubuntu
specifically, I will draw on my experiences in trying to persuade them
to provide the same for OpenOffice.org.

The first hurdle that needs to be overcome is the availability of
training material. Many trainers show a mild interest in providing
training, but are unwilling to offer any resources towards developing
the required material.

I have tried, and so has TSF, to persuade the ICDL foundation to make
their course material freely available to all. ICDL, unfortunately,
insist in providing it only through their centres to students who
purchase an ICDL log book.

TSF asked me to look into the costs of developing ICDL compatible
training material last year, and after some research I provided Thomas
with a basic projected development costs of R 250k - R 300k depending on
the model and developer. This material would have consisted of a
complete set of material from instructors notes through to classroom
exercises. TSF did, however, come to some agreement with the ICDL for
utilising the material in the tuxlabs project, but I am unaware of the

>From the OpenOffice.org perspective we are working on a number of
projects, both in ZA and internationally, to develop OpenOffice.org
specific training material. Due to the volunteer model, however, this
could some time.

Once the training material issue is overcome, the next challenge is to
persuade the various training providers to offer the basic training
courses. Most of these organisations will only consider offering courses
if there is sufficient demand from customers for them. As you can
understand, this can be quite a chicken and egg scenario with the vast
majority of people not even being aware of the existence of Linux and/or

One way to overcome this may be through the development of a marketing
programme and working in partnership with local training centres, rather
than national ones. This, however, would be a cost intensive exercise.

Another item to consider is that nobody really knows the real demand for
Linux desktop training. I encounter both Linux and OpenOffice.org at
surprisingly many sites, mostly small and medium, just in Durban. A
common lament from people who use Linux on the desktop and
OpenOffice.org, regardless of desktop, is that there is little to no
available training. After further questioning, most of these people do
admit that they have never asked specifically for this training, but
rather just look at advertisements and the training schedules they

Beyond what I have discussed in this email, there are a great number of
other considerations, such as government training levies and other
relevant training bodies, such as the SETA's, to consider. There are
also numerous other approaches which could be taken.

The OpenOffice.org.za portal does have a list of training providers who
have submitted their details to the site and this can be found at

Kindest Regards

Craig A. Adams

On Mon, 2005-02-14 at 08:57 +0000, Mark Shuttleworth wrote:
> Hi Craig
> Thanks for this report of what sounds like a very successful event in 
> Durban! I'd be interested to hear about the local skills development 
> situation - how many people in the region offer IT training at beginner 
> and advanced levels, and how many of them offer training on FLOSS. Also, 
> how best we could approach those trainers to encourage them to offer 
> courses in FLOSS, based on Ubuntu.
> Cheers,
> Mark
> Craig Adams wrote:
> >Hi All,
> >
> >Just a note about the conference and expo which was held last week in
> >Durban, South Africa.
> >
> >The event was held at the MTN Science Centre at the Gateway Shopping
> >Mall and was entitled the ICT & Electronics in Education Conference and
> >Expo. It was attended by about 400 Senior Primary and High School
> >science and computer studies teachers from the greater Durban area.
> >
> >I was representing OpenOffice.org at the event and was accorded the
> >opportunity to provide a 20 minute presentation on FLOSS in general.
> >This presentation was extended to 40 minutes due to the interest shown
> >by the teachers.
> >
> >Thomas at the Shuttleworth Foundation kindly sent me 480 Ubuntu CD sets
> >to give away at the event, of which I only have 50 left, mainly because
> >I was rationing them to one per teacher. Demand from the teachers would
> >have seen me easily giving away over 1000 copies.
> >
> >I found that the wealthier schools are generally aware of FLOSS and
> >GNU/Linux, whilst the poorer and previously disadvantaged schools remain
> >largely unenlightened. The level of interest in FLOSS, GNU/Linux and
> >specifically Ubuntu (the name was a particular draw card) could only be
> >described as overwhelming and, the few of these schools lucky enough to
> >have a computer lab, showed particular interest in various LTSP based
> >solutions to help bolster their ageing and/or inadequate infrastructure.
> >
> >HP were represented at the event by proxy, a local reseller, who were
> >showing off the HP 441 (www.hp441.com) which utilises a derivative of
> >Mandrake Linux. This solution also gained a lot of attention from the
> >smaller, underfunded schools as a low cost option for small computer
> >labs.
> >
> >At the OpenOffice.org table I was demonstrating OpenOffice.org (1.1 &
> >2.0 developer build) on Warty. Teachers were allowed to sit down and
> >work with the computer and the various applications I had installed.
> >Those that took advantage of this opportunity commented on the ease of
> >use of Warty and were impressed with the capabilities of OpenOffice.org,
> >with the Math module being particularly popular.
> >
> >In general, the event was entirely successful from a FLOSS perspective.
> >
> >Kindest Regards
> >
> >Craig A. Adams
> >
> >
> >
> >  
> >

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