A good example of leveraging the power of the "open" way.
"Zero Cost & Open Learning, A perfect combination for a school technology program"
Charlie Reisinger, an innovative IT Director for Penn Manor school district in Lancaster County, shows how to provide affordable, new digital technologies to high school students. The answer is not only a cost-effective way to improve the quality of education, it is opening students' minds. (more on the the Penn Manor Technology blog)
This great TEDx video resonates well with the true nature of learning. Students (of any age) need access to work, play and grow in their knowledge. The amazingly positive results demonstrate just this: give people a chance to learn, and they will.
The video above is also an eye-opener for anyone, looking to explore solutions beyond standard conventions. Encourage and allow open thinking, and most everyone will surprise you. Give them a problem to solve, not just a routine to follow, let the solution evolve.
As he says, "the benefits are far reaching beyond just the scientific & technical skills". The skills they are picking up are the very skills many organisations spend huge amounts searching for and encouraging in their own employees.
It teaches us, both old and young to Listen, Learn, Interact, Lead and to be Lead.
Speaking personally, I still remember being handed a Slackware Linux disc, when doing a software course years ago (1997). The lecturer encouraged me to install it at home, break it, play, learn. It gave me a love for computing, and a deep interest in this "GNU | Linux" thing.
Everyone has similar stories to tell. These tools are, by design, built to be non-restrictive in nature. Designed to allow anyone with enough passion, to dive right in and learn. The nature of these licenses, allow this kind of open learning to happen.
Now ask yourself, imagine where these students will be in the next decade in their skills -- with the right encouragement.
Now Imagine them working with you.
Are we doing enough, to ensure that? The same models are being experimented with, by a lot of nimble organisations looking to get an advantage. Looking to infuse a new sense of innovation? Look in directions like this. The open technologies have always been about more than just code.
What would be the one thing you would like to see done for your kid (or for yourself, whilst growing up)? I'm sure there are many more stories like this one, lets hear them.