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Debian Jr. joins with OSEF to focus on outreach

On October 23, 2003, I was invited to attend a Open Source Education
Foundation (OSEF)[0] public meeting, and walked out as a board member of
their newly expanded board.  This is, I believe, an important step that
will strengthen both Debian Jr. and OSEF.

OSEF and Debian Jr. are not strangers.  For some time, I have worked
closely with OSEF.  We have met often, both online, and twice in person
with CEO Harry McGregor.  Over the course of our relationship, we have
discovered that both groups share many important and complementary
goals.  For example, both groups aim to improve the quality of Debian
Jr. packages, and we share a common goal to introduce children to Free

Some outstanding work has been done by OSEF in schools local to the
founding members of the organization.  Their Corbett Elementary school
computer lab project in Tucson, Arizona, USA is a widely known success
story for Free software in schools.  While I have always shied away from
leading Debian Jr. to tackle problems specific to using Free software in
schools, this background gives OSEF broad practical experience with a
large number of children, using applications included in Debian Jr. 

For two years, Justin Zeigler of OSEF has handed out Knoppix for Kids
CDs[1] to dozens of Trick-or-treaters visiting his house on Halloween. 
This CD is a 'live' distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux which is
tailored for children, including Debian Jr. and Tux4Kids[2] packages. 
Until this point, the focus of Debian Jr. had been to only to increase
the quality and quantity of free software applications available for
kids.  I now realize this was shortsighted, as the applications we have
are indeed ready for broad distribution.  With this in mind, now is the
time for for renewed outreach in our own communities: from simple CD
handouts to free library sponsored teaching sessions, followed up with
online support for new users afterwards.

In the coming months, I am committing to put more energy into Debian
Jr., coupled with taking an active role reaching out into communities. 
OSEF will be instrumental in accomplishing this.  It is my hope that
this alliance will renew the vitality of this long-neglected, yet
important subproject of Debian.

Ben Armstrong, Debian Jr. project lead

[0] http://www.osef.org/
[1] http://www.osef.org/k4kids-mirrors.html
[2] http://www.tux4kids.org/
 ,-.  nSLUG    http://www.nslug.ns.ca   synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
 \`'  Debian   http://www.debian.org    synrg@debian.org
  `          [ gpg 395C F3A4 35D3 D247 1387 2D9E 5A94 F3CA 0B27 13C8 ]
             [ pgp 7F DA 09 4B BA 2C 0D E0 1B B1 31 ED C6 A9 39 4F ]

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