Last Friday I wrote an article about Comunidad Valenciana as the only region in Europe that uses Open Source tools and platforms, thus protecting their students’ privacy.
The article was a comparative analysis between G Suite privacy issues, and Comunidad Valenciana’s regulations written by the Consellería de Educación (Department of Education) focused on protecting their students’ privacy.
Today, I want to write about what Open Source tools and platforms they are already using. I really appreciate Tàfol Nebot’s help who has informed me about all the details I’m letting you know in this article.
In the Department of Education there are two departments of computing: Computing Service for Educational Centers (SICE), and the Computing Service for Educational Management (SIGE).
Both Services belong to the DGTIC (General Directorate of Information and Communication Technologies).
In Comunidad Valenciana, SICE is the department where open source tools are used the most.
The main tools are:
1. Lliurex: operating system based on GNU / Linux that has been installed in the equipment of the centers since 2005, approximately. The latest version is based on a derivative of UBUNTU and there are thousands of computers with this System already installed. It is the older project and is very popular among computer science teachers. It has received honorable mention in the Open Awards of Open Expo Europe.
2. Aules: Virtual Learning Environment based on Moodle, free software and the main platform used worldwide adapted to the needs of the Valencian teachers (it connects with the Generalitat’s (Regional Valencian government) own management system and teachers do not have to worry about data protection law, since data are managed from the Conselleria itself). Currently, available to any teacher and student of non-university education (as long as their data is in the management platform of the Generalitat (ITACA).
3. PortalEdu: Platform for centers to manage their own website. It is based on WordPress and is currently in the pilot phase. Its expansion is planned to be used by all centers.
4. Mestre a Casa: platform where teachers can host their educational blog. It is based on Liferay although it is in the migration phase towards the new PortalEDU platform.
5. LimeSurvey: free questionnaire management software installed on some servers to collect information from the centers. It was used in the survey of teachers for the future Valencian education law, it is used to collect pre-enrollment in Official Language Schools. It is pending to make it available to teachers so they do not have to use Google Forms.
6. Gestió d’Incidències: Platform for the generation of tickets that is used for teachers and centers to request technical help on any computer or platform issue. It is based on the free software Otrs.
7. Tao Testing: Platform used in diagnostic tests, it is the same one used in PISA tests.
Other tools are also used but they are not based on free software, such as ITACA management platforms, teaching module and family web, but it has to be improved.
Other tools that teachers demand, but that are not currently hace, are file cloud services. From SICE it has been thought of implementing the service based on Nextcloud, another free software tool, but at this moment the decision to launch the project has not yet been made.
Tàfol, in his Twitter thread, suggests the following improvements:
1. Bringing the improvements developed in free software, and collaborating with the community that offered us such free software. As @lliurex is doing to KDE, and hopefully the same thing will happen soon with Aules to Moodle.
2. Work with reliable partners. Moving towards offering alternative services to those of the great technology based on free software, with all its ethical dimension (Nextcloud, LimeSurvey…).
3. Sharing own developments that are not yet free in Open Source repositories to be auditable, other communities benefit from it, and other benefits.
4. Demanding free licenses to third-party developments paid with public money, Comunidad Valenciana would also be among the first to adopt the Public Code iniciative: “If it is public money, it should be public code as well!” Support @fsfe (Free software Foundation Europe).