Here is another interview with one of the people in the Debian Edu and Skolelinux community. I am running short on people willing to be interviewed, so if you know about someone I should interview, Please send me an email. After asking for many months, I finally managed to lure another one of the people behind the German "IT-Zukunft Schule" project out from maternity leave to conduct an interview. Give a warm welcome to Angela Fuß. :)
Who are you, and how do you spend your days?
I am a 39-year-old woman living in the very north of Germany near Denmark. I live in a patchwork family with "my man" Mike Gabriel, my two daughters, Mikes daughter and Mikes and my rather newborn son.
At the moment - because of our little baby - I am spending most of the day by being a caring and organising mom for all the kids. Besides that I am really involved into and occupied with several inner growth processes: New born souls always bring the whole familiar system into movement and that needs time and focus ;-). We are also in the middle of buying a house and moving to it.
In 2013 I will work again in my job in a German foundation for nature conservation. I am doing public relation work there. Besides that - and that is the connection to Skolelinux / Debian Edu - I am working in our own school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" in North Germany. I am responsible for the quality assurance, the customer relationship management and the communication processes in the project.
Since 2001 I constantly have been training myself in communication and leadership. Besides that I am a forester, a landscaping gardener and a yoga teacher.
How did you get in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu project?
I fell in love with Mike ;-).
Very soon after getting to know him I was completely enrolled into Free Software. At this time Mike did IT-services for one newly founded school in Kiel. Other schools in Kiel needed concepts for their IT environment. Often when Mike came home from working at the newly founded school I found myself listening to his complaints about several points where the communication with the schools head or the teachers did not work. So we were clear that he would not work for one more school if we did not set up a structure for communication between him, the schools head, the teachers, the students and the parents.
Together with our friend and hardware supplier Andreas Buchholz we started to get an overview of free software solutions suitable for schools. One day before Christmas 2010 Mike and I had a date with Kurt Gramlich in Gütersloh. As Kurt and I are really interested in building networks of people and in being in communication we dived into Skolelinux and brought it to the first grammar schools in Northern Germany.
For information about our school project you can read the interview with Mike Gabriel.
What do you see as the advantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?
First I have to say: I cannot answer this question technically. My answer comes rather from a social point of view.
The biggest advantage of Skolelinux / Debian Edu I see is the large and strong international community of Debian Developers in the background which is very alive and connected over mailinglists, blogs and meetings. My constant feeling for the Debian Community is: If something does not work they will somehow fix it. All is well ;-). This is of course a user experience. What I also get as a big advantage of Skolelinux / Debian Edu is that everybody who uses it and works with it can also contribute to it - that includes students, teachers, parents...
What do you see as the disadvantages of Skolelinux / Debian Edu?
I will answer this question relating to the internal structure of Skolelinux / Debian Edu.
What I see as a major disadvantage is that there is a gap between the group of developers for Debian Edu and the people who make the marketing, that means the people that bring Skolelinux to the schools. There is a lack of communication between these two groups and I think that does not really work for Skolelinux / Debian Edu.
Further I appreciate that Skolelinux / Debian Edu is known as a do-ocracy. Nevertheless I keep asking myself if at some points a democracy or some kind of hierarchical project structure would be good and helpful. I am also missing some kind of contact between the Skolelinux / Debian Edu communities in Europe or on an international level. I think it would be good if there was more sharing between the different countries using Skolelinux / Debian Edu.
Which free software do you use daily?
On my laptop I am still using an Ubuntu 10.04 with a Gnome Desktop on. As applications I use Openoffice.org, Gedit, Firefox, Pidgin, LaTeX and GnuCash. For mails I am using Horde. And I am really fond of my N900 running with Maemo.
Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?
I am really convinced that in our school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" we have developed (and keep developing) a great way to get schools to use Free Software. We have written a detailed concept for that so I cannot explain the whole thing here. But in a nutshell the strategy has three crucial pillars:
- We really take time to get what sort of stories, questions and concerns the schools head and the teachers have about using different kinds of IT and we take time to enrol them into Free Software.
- Our solution for schools is never just technical. In the centre are always the people who are going to use the software. From the very beginning of the planning for a school, we tell the schools head that they are paying us not only for a technical solution for their school, they also pay us for leading all the communication processes needed. If they do not want that, we are not working with them because we cannot give a guarantee for the quality of our work then.
- Another focus lies in the training of teachers and students in co-administrating the IT-System at their school. They start getting in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu community and they get the offer to become more and more independent from us.