Free Technology Academy
Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog
I was contacted recently by an organization called the Free Technology Academy (FTA), which offers Masters Level courses across the Internet on Free Technologies. They wanted me to do a video-taped lecture on “Perspectives On the Free Software Market”.
I realized that you could parse that topic in at least three different ways:
Perspectives on the Free (Software Market)
Perspectives on the (Free Software) Market
(Perspectives on the Free Software) Market
The first is perspectives on how "Freedom" affects the Software Market in total. Does it disrupt the Market? Does it allow the market to grow? How has the software market changed since the early days of computing? How did closed-source come into being? Is closed-source now "obsolete"?
The second bullet is how end users benefit from Free Software, why people want Free Software and why people write Free Software. Why would people outside the USA have a different perspective about Free Software than people inside the USA? Why would people in emerging economies have a different perspective?
The last is on issues of how you market Free Software...sort of a stretch in the parsing, but I would hope to prove that Free Software typically has to be marketed a different way than Closed Source Software, and that Free Software has a "rough road to hoe" in the overall software marketplace, and may have an even harder time in the future.
All learning materials are published under various copyleft licenses (GFDL and cc-by-sa as examples). The FTA is developing a sustainability model for the development and maintenance of Open Education Resources (OER). As part of that, when my video is fully edited the video will be published.
Another example of this philosophy are several electronic books available for download from the Academy site which are available in different languages (currently English, Spanish and Catalan)
They are looking for volunteers to translate the books into other languages.
The design of the FTA program is based on a full Master's Degree offered by the Open University of Catalonia since 2003.
Courses taken at the Free Technology Academy get European Credit Transfer and Accumulation Systems (ECTS) credits which can be applied at various Universities (http://ftacademy.org/courses/recognition) that are part of the FTA program. Other universities may also recognize the credits, but you would have to work with those other universities to see where the credits are applicable to their programs.
While the courses are not free of charge, the tuition per course is reasonable at 380 Euros per 5 ECTS course, with a 25% discount if you register two or more months early. FTA currently offers 8 courses at 5 ECTS apiece and you typically need 60 credits or more for a Master's Degree, so you will have to work through either one of the participating universities or your own university to have them approve the full Masters Degree.
Programs like this one continue to move Free Software forward as a recognized method of advancing computer science.
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