Mini-Education Summit LinuxCon Boston 2010

I spent most of last week at LinuxCon helping Spot at the Fedora booth. However, the day before the main conference, Sebastian Dziallas organized a Education Mini-Summit to take place in conjunction with LinuxCon. I gave a talk on the Inkscape class Red Hat has done plus some other related initiatives, including one we are planning for next fall with the Free Software Foundation. The slides are available here. There were so many great talks. Here’s an overview of the ones I attended (my apologies for having no details on Caroline Meek’s talk on “Computers in US Schools: Realities and Challenges and how Open Source can help” – I had to leave before her talk for the FSF Women’s Caucus dinner in Cambridge.) “Can Open Source Save The World…?” Bryant Patten, NCOSE Bryant split his talk into three sections: the bad news, the good news, and the better news. The Bad News Here’s an overview of the points Bryant made in this section: Waiting for Superman, Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination, The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner, What the internet is doing to our brains: the Shallows by Nicholas Carr are books and films that discuss some of …

Talking about Inkscape, in Leeds UK, from Boston USA, via Empathy.

Last Thursday, at the invitation of Rob Martin from the North East Leeds City Learning Centre in Leeds UK, I gave a talk about the Inkscape class I worked on as part of a Red Hat outreach program earlier this year. The occasion was the National City Learning Centres Conference 2010, which very excitingly had an open source track.The National City Learning Centers are organizations that help the area schools around them make use of technological innovations: providing training programs and workshops and supporting and developing solutions for technology use in the schools. Our Inkscape class seemed quite appropriate a topic! Here’s the thing, though: The conference took place in Leeds, UK. I gave my talk from Boston, Massachusetts. Take that, Atlantic Ocean! After numerous failed yet valiant attempts with Skype (no video, only audio and screensharing worked), Rob and his colleague Paul Bellwood gave empathy a shot – and it worked! Now, let me give you some caveats here: The call dropped two times during my talk. While Paul was very quick to reconnect the call, it was a little disorienting. We’re not sure why it happened.Screen sharing would not work in empathy. Sometimes it would be greyed out …

Inkscape Class Day 7

Friday morning, I taught the seventh session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Friday’s Class Well, this Inkscape course is quickly wrapping up. One more class after this past one on Friday. The students’ work was due at the end of this class and they all did great work in prepping their designs for the printer. I handed out a sheet with the export instructions (available for download below.) We weren’t exactly sure the best approach to gather up the files at first; Ken had set up a shared drive on the network for the students to save their work to, but on some of the Macs, Inkscape’s export bitmap dialog could not see the shared drive (and some could!) What we ended up doing: Have the students export their work out to the desktop – 300 dpi, PNG format. I asked them to use either their band name or their own name in the file so I could tell them apart. Then, ask them open up the appropriate network drive folder and drag both the …

Inkscape Class Day 6

Yesterday morning, I taught the sixth session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Yesterday’s Class Yesterday’s class, like last Thursday’s class, was primarily a working class. After this class we have only two sessions left, and the students’ artwork is due at the end of next session, so we’ve been giving them as much time as possible during class to work on their designs. When I passed out the shirt size signup sheet last week, one of the students was absent, so I got his size and sent Walter at EmbroidMe Chelmsford a quick email listing of all the T-shirt sizes we’d need so he would be ready to have the shirts printed when we send the designs on Friday. I gave some quick instructions on working with the align & distribute tool in Inkscape – since we are getting close to the end of class, I thought going over alignments would be helpful for the students in making final preparations for their artwork to be handed off. One of the scenarios I used to explain …

Inkscape Class Day 5

This past Thursday morning, I taught the fifth session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Thursday’s Class Thursday’s class was primarily a working class. First, we passed around a sheet for the students to write out their name, band name, and T-shirt size so EmbroidMe Chelmsford can have the correct size T-shirts ready to go. Then we passed out sheets with a calendar / schedule for the rest of the class. We’re halfway through the course – there are 4 sessions left – so the students’ due date for their design is the end of the second-to-last class on February 5th. Then, I set out a sheet with some suggested band names that any student who was still stuck on a name could pick from. One idea for using this sheet in your own class could be to cut the band names into little squares and have students pick them out of a hat early on in the course. The students seemed to have settled on either using a band name of their choice (one student …

Inkscape Class Day 4

This past Thursday morning, I taught the fourth session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Thursday’s Class Thursday’s class was the first class the students really got a big chunk of time to start working on their project. With only 20 minutes or so under their belt, working on their rock band logo assignment, they’ve already come up with some pretty impressive designs! Music Artist Logo Review We started class off by walking through example logo designs from music artists of various genres – I pointed out some of the features about each logo and asked the students to think about how they contributed to the message the logo put across. I also pointed out that they should think about the kind of message they want their logo to send, and brainstorm ways they could change up the design of the logo to follow that message. For example, I contrasted the curves, hearts, stars, and bright colors of Katy Perry’s logo to the sharp angles of Metallica’s logo and asked them to think about each band’s …

Inkscape Class Day 3

Yesterday I taught the third session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Yesterday’s Class Yesterday’s class was jam-packed with information, and it proved to be too much material to allow the students enough time to really play around with and try out the techniques in the lesson! We covered: Using the pen tool to create Bezier curves The different types of nodes Working with node handles Converting nodes between types Adding & Removing nodes Scaling and rotating nodes The pencil tool Simplifying Paths The tweak tool The fill tool Converting type to paths The general approach I wanted to take was to show how to manipulate the nodes on a path in an advanced way, then show additional ways to create paths and form paths (pencil, tweak, fill, type) and show that the node manipulation skills could be applied to any path created using any of those techniques or the shapes from lesson 2. I think it was a little too ambitious for only 40 minutes of classtime, though – I’m feeling the crunch of having …

Inkscape Class Day 2

Early this morning I taught the second session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Today’s Class Today’s class was split up into two major sections. T-Shirt Technologies and Specifications First, Walter Miska from EmbroidMe Chelmsford went over different T-Shirt printing technologies and gave the students the specifications for their T-shirts that he has so generously volunteered to produce at the end of the class. Here’s a list of the T-shirt printing technologies he covered (and he showed off samples of each, I wish I thought to take photos!): Screen printing Screen printed transfer Sublimation Transfers Direct-to-Garment Walter produced a great worksheet running down the details of these – he has given me the okay to publish his worksheet here (and on the course website) under a Creative Commons Attribution license. You’ll find it in the files list below. The students’ designs will be printed on light ash grey t-shirts. The maximum print area is 13″ wide and 15″ long. Walter’s going to use the relatively new direct-to-garment technology to produce the shirts. It turns out it’s …

Inkscape Class Day 1

Early this morning I taught the first session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. The course is part of Red Hat’s community outreach program. My fellow Red Hatter John had come up with the idea for the program at a school meeting and made it happen, I created the curriculum with the help of the Fedora Design team, and my fellow RH designer Eve and I have volunteered our time to run the course. Red Hat has also donated some Wacom Bamboo Pen + Touch tablets to the school to use during the course. This program is something we’ve been working on making happen since last October so I’m very excited to have kicked things off today. The Plan There’s a theme that spans the entire course, involving a rock band: Blanchard Records, Inc. is a young record label and they’ve just signed a deal with a hot new band. They think this is going to be their big break, so they want to make a big splash – and it’s time to release a new album and kick off a worldwide tour. There’s just one small problem. The band doesn’t …