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I never thought how a simple photograph at a family birthday could capture the essence of an open education until my niece recently turned one year old.
Most often, an open education is thought of in terms of a traditional classroom setting or more recently, in terms of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). This way, a textbook, a syllabus, or an entire curriculum is mapped out and presented in an orderly way and a teacher or professor imparts knowledge to us.
But an open education can also take a more associative path or an independent approach to learning, such as with downloading photos. It might entail teaching a sibling about open source while taking photos at a family gathering or having a family discussion about open source and how to use it.
Most of us, however, still tend to associate learning through an institution like MIT or an organization like the American Library Association. And while schools, institutions, or organizations can and do provide formal instruction or training in open source, sometimes the best way to learn about open source is to teach yourself or others about it. One way to accomplish this is to learn how to download photos or videos and then share or post them to an open site.
When my son turned one year old in 2006, we had a digital camera and could take and download photos or videos but not much else. We couldn't stream them or post them to an open site to share them either, or at least I don't recall so. With my niece's recent birthday everything seems to have changed. Knowledge about downloading photos with open source software has suddenly become available and accessible. Today, there are many ways to stream photos or videos the open source way.
However, time and convenience with Apple or other proprietary systems often prevail and the open source way gets sidelined or ignored.
Few people, including my brother, stop and question why Apple deliberately makes streaming photos or videos so convenient and effortless. They don't question why they need to continue to buy or upgrade their products. Without stopping to think or expend energy, a person can send numerous photos and videos with one click of a button.
Few people stop and question the impact Apple or Windows operating systems have or how they have infiltrated into our daily lives. Instead, many continue to shell out money for unnecessary upgrades or software programs without realizing or thinking of the open source way.
Paradoxically, millions, if not billions, of people use digital technology to take photos or videos and download them without any expert help or formal training or instruction. Yet these same people do not seek out or acquire the indispensable knowledge gained from using open source, though no expert help or formal training are needed to gain this knowledge.
So what is stopping so many people from using open source to download their photos and videos? How can we bridge this disconnect between such widespread use of digital technology and the desire to learn and use open source? How can we use a simple photograph, a birthday, or a family gathering to help the process of learning and using open source?
Perhaps this kind of "open source education" can begin with one discussion, and then many discussions. I learned about open source and became an advocate. I taught my son, my husband, my brother, and his family about open source. It's not rocket science, but it is priceless.