FOSS is Child's Play

Presented by Nicky Ringland, Amanda Hogan, Bruce Fuda
Wednesday 1:40 p.m.–2:25 p.m. in Green Theatre CB07.02.25
Target audience: Community


Australian students ranked last in tech skills and interest in technical jobs[1]. This isn't surprising: the typical IT experience for a school student involves Word, typing and Powerpoint. Compared to the experiences of contributors to the Open Source community, it is clear that a major intervention in schools is needed. The new Digital Technologies curriculum is this much needed intervention. From 2018, hundreds of thousands of students will be on their way to becoming programmers, hackers and makers, but only if their early experiences are positive. The Australian Computing Academy has created 32 hours of free, open resources teaching FOSS languages such as Python and Arduino, and will create over 100 more! Through fun, engaging projects that connect to the real-world, we are developing CS skills and enthusiasm in every student. The first challenges are available now, exploring chatbots, musical instruments with embedded devices, and a throwback to old school computing education with Papert and Logo: generating vector graphics with the Python Turtle. More capable students, skilled in and excited about the fundamentals of computer science, can make meaningful contributions to Open Source projects, learning both the philosophies and ethical principles of the FOSS community while also building a body of work that sets them up for a career in any field. We're calling on everyone - developers, hackers, makers and educators - to make space for students in open source communities. Whether first contributor programs targeting young learners or working with us to make your project more accessible, but fostering new talent has always been a philosophy of the open source community. We’re making FOSS the new normal. [1] 2016 report from the World Economic Forum across global sample of countries

Presented by

Nicky Ringland

Dr Nicky Ringland is a Computing Education Specialist at the Australian Computing Academy. She completed her PhD in Computer Science and Computational Linguistics at the University of Sydney, and is a co-founder of Grok Learning, an online learning platform that teaches coding and technology. Nicky is passionate about teaching the next generation the skills they need to become the creators of tomorrow. Nicky helps inspire students tens of thousands of students of all ages each year through running the National Computer Science School (NCSS) Summer School, NCSS Challenge and the Girls' Programming Network. She was recently named a Superstar of STEM, but is still waiting for her superhero cape.

Amanda Hogan

Amanda was very recently a teacher at a secondary girls school in Sydney and now works as an educational consultant for the Australian Computing Academy. She's been trying to find really effective and engaging ways to teach students how to solve problems with code for some time now with mixed success. She is a contributor, content creator and tutor for the Sydney branch of the Girls Programming Network. She is the current president of the ICT Educators professional association in NSW and in that role tries hard to mentor new teachers or teachers new to computing. She always has some project on the go from e-textiles to making Apps for her classroom. In a former life she was a database and web developer. In her opinion Python is the best mix of power and ease of use for beginner programmers. In her spare time she bangs out showtunes on the piano or rides her bike.

Bruce Fuda

Bruce is a Computing Education Specialist at the Australian Computing Academy at the University of Sydney. Prior to this, he was acting Associate Principal of Gungahlin College in the ACT and has been teaching in high schools for thirteen years. Throughout his career, his emphasis has been on developing the understanding of computer science and programming capabilities of students in years 5-12 using a range of programming tools and learning approaches. He was a writer of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies and has been involved in projects across multiple Australian jurisdictions developing teacher capability and lesson resources to support the implementation of the curriculum. He believes that the skills and knowledge that you develop through an understanding of the digital technologies are the modern equivalent of magic, and wants to see all students have the opportunity to become masters of this mystical art.