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SELF News August 2009

Irregular newsletter
Sharing knowledge about Free Software
25 August 2009

It's been a few months since the last SELF newsletter. We have all been busy
with different projects, but we have finally managed to write down an update on
what's going on in SELF:

  1. End of the EC funded period - Wouter Tebbens (FKI)
  2. News from the development team - Nagarjuna G. (HBCSE)
  3. UOC to use SELF at their new Master Programme on Free Software - David Megías (UOC)
  4. FKI and UOC setting up the Free Technology Academy - David Jacovkis (UOC)
  5. Vía Libre collaborates in the organisation of Wikimania 2009
  6. Join SELF!


1. End of the EC funded period

The SELF project was started as an European Commission funded project for two years. The project formally ended with the FKFT Conference in July 2008. Then ame several months of reporting to the EC and a final SELF meeting with the Commission in Brussels that took place in October 2008. The EC confirmed the results of the project as successful and in line with the project plans. The SELF teams hope to have contributed to the debate of Free Software, Open Standards and Free Educational Materials. And more than that, it is expected that the studies and learning materials made available as well as the blueprints and prototypes of a platform for the collaborative construction of such materials will be used and further developed. A list with reported results can
be found here:

Since the finalisation and approval of the project in the EC-funding context, the project has not stopped, indeed several things have been going on of which we want to share a few with you. Please read on!

Wouter Tebbens (Free Knowledge Institute)

2. News from the development team

The Platform backend GNOWSYS has been upgraded, and currently the new templates are being made to make use of the changed backend. This will substantially improve the performance of the SELF Platform. Jay Mehta is working on the templates, while Rajiv Nair is writing a script to migrate old data into the new knowledge base. This work is expected to be completed before 10th of September 2009.The development trunk on has been migrated from cvs to svn. The latest snapshot can be obtained from

A new interface to work with the knowledge base using a text editor (GNUEmacs) has been made, called GNOWSYS-mode. Using GNOWSYS-mode, which is a special major mode of emacs based on org-mode, it is possible to work with SELF Platform directly. This project is this year's GSoC project awarded to our developer Divya, who contributed to SCORM import/export module for the Platform.

We will be working on using org-mode style text buffer to be saved in the knowldge base instead of HTML for wider adaptability. This feature will also add technical editing (mathematical equation using LaTeX notation). This will make SELF Platform suitable for collaborative book writing, both through the web as well as through a Editing Environment like Emacs.

GNOWSYS-mode can be obtained from:

Nagarjuna G. (Homi Bhabha Centre For Science Education)

3. UOC to use SELF at their new Master Programme on Free Software

The Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) is starting a process to convert different course materials to the SCORM format. Although the materials of the
Master programme in free software of the UOC are already free and available for download:

They are basically in PDF and editable format (TeX, ODF, HTML or similar). The main aim is to port all of them to SCORM so that they can be played directly in
different e-learning environments. The UOC will make use of the SELF platform throughout this process.

In addition, the UOC is now offering the Master Programme in Free Software also in English. This implies that the materials are also being translated to
English. The first edition of this programme in English will start next September and the related information is available at the UOC's site:

If you are interested in enrolling or want to make some inquiries about the programme, please fill in the following application form:

or send your queries directly by E-mail to the address:

David Megías (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

4. FKI and UOC setting up the Free Technology Academy

The Free Knowledge Institute together with the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and Open University Netherlands are working on setting up the Free Technology

The FTA will provide educational modules on Free Software and Open Standards. These courses will be followed entirely online, either as independent modules or
as a part of a learning track. The credits obtained in the FTA will be recognised by the partner universities in case the student wants to follow a
longer programme in one of them. The FTA is supported by the Lifelong Learning programme of the EC.

Al educational resources used in the FTA will be published under copyleft licenses, and the SELF Platform will be used to update and maintain them.

The FTA Campus is a Free Software, standard-compliant learning environment based on Moodle and the Campus Project:

David Jacovkis (Free Knowledge Institute)

5. Vía Libre collaborates in the organisation of Wikimania 2009

Our Argentinian colleagues are extremely busy these days with the organisation of Wikimania 2009:

Federico Heinz will present part of the work of SELF's QA team on August 27:

A live video stream of Federico's talk will be available, please check Wikimania's website for the details.

6. Join SELF!

Like any other community-based project, SELF relies on the effort of many individuals and institutions. There are many ways to help SELF:

- Contributing existing learning materials or creating new ones.
- Join the development team and help with code, testing or translations.
- Help us spread the word about SELF, Free Software and Open Standards.
- Make a donation.

For more information, please check:

And remember that every contribution makes a difference!

The SELF Project wants to thank the support of for the sponsoring of the server where runs, and for
hosting the project's website,

SELF - Science Education and Learning in Freedom