SELF Platform Beta launched!

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Reflections on the SELF Platform Launch

Amsterdam, early Wednesday morning, September 5 2007. The Doelenzaal of the University of Amsterdam is slowly being filled with various people from education, government and business, while the organisation of the SELF project desperately tries to get rid of Mr. Murphy. The internet is still down, the projector is broken, and a somewhat confused professor bluntly runs into the room stating that he'll give a class on the history of science. Wouter Tebbens, the coordinator of SELF, replies: “Nono, we are going to talk about the future of science!”

A little later than planned the conference 'Free Software in Education' finally takes off. Arjen Kamphuis introduces the day by showing a map of Europe which demonstrates that the Netherlands are really way behind with the use of Free Software.

In the run to the official launch of the beta version of the SELF Platform, later that day, speakers such as professor Masayuki Ida (Computer Science Professor at the Aoyama Gakuin University in Japan) and Charles Macmillan (Project Officer of the Information Society Technologies Unit, European Commission), give their views on the importance of sharing knowledge.

In the panel 'Viral Knowledge Sharing' with as guests Jan-Willem Broekema (Dutch governmental Free Software awareness programme OSOSS), Andrew Bullen (MediaGuild), Masayuki Ida, and Appie Reuver (Advisory Board MediaPlaza), chaired by ISOC Netherlands director Michiel Leenaars, various statements are thrown: “fluidity of knowledge in society means that educational material has to be renewed and updated constantly” and “within ten years time, the life circle of printed material will be less than twelve months.” The second panel with Cees Segers (Avans Hogeschool), Janine Huizenga (Waag Society), Frederik Questier (Free University Brussels), and Karst Koymans (University of Amsterdam), chaired by Hinde ten Berge (SELF) is focussing on the question why educational institutes have such difficulties with the adoption of Free Software and with the concept of sharing knowledge. The panel members arrive at the conclusion that education needs to take the lead by teaching students about the principles of open content while they are heavily supported and stimulated by government.

And then, finally the moment is there: the SELF Platform is officially presented by its creator, Wouter Tebbens. The educational platform, developed by an international team of non-profit organisations, universities and volunteers, is launched in its beta stage to involve the growing community in optimising the tool. The public reacts enthusiastically and at the end of the day the SELF Project may profit from several proposals for server space, free educational material, help with translations and other kinds of offers.

The launch is streamed live and broadcasted during satellite events in Sweden, Bulgaria, Mexico and Argentina. Apart from that, on Friday September 7 the Homi Bhabha Institute for Science Education in Mumbai launches the Platform with attendance of around 100 educational experts, teachers, trainers, scientists, students and people from the Free Software community. On October 6 SELF partner Universitat Oberta de Catalunya will organise a like-wise event in Barcelona.

With the launch an important milestone of the SELF Project has been reached. Since the kick-off in July 2006 the team worked hard on the various aspects of the realisation of the Platform. Now the first version is finally online! Go and test the Platform yourself, give us your feedback and comments, and above all:

be SELFish, share your knowledge!

SELF - Science Education and Learning in Freedom