The following guest post is by David Jacovkis and Wouter Tebbens from the Free Knowledge Institute. David and Wouter will be joining us at OKCon 2011 for their workshop on Building a master Curriculum on Free Technologies, and presentation on the Free Technology Academy and Shared QA for producing Free Educational Materials.

The Free Technology Academy (FTA) is moving towards completing its second year of activity, the third since the project was started by the Free Knowledge Institute (FKI). The FTA is a joint initiative of the FKI and several European universities that received the support of the EC’s Lifelong Learning Programme during 2009 and 2010. Its main purpose is to provide distance education about Free Software, Open Standards and other Free Technologies, using only Free Software and Free Educational Resources.

An economic crisis such as the one that is affecting most markets usually means bad news for startups. However, it can also be seen as an opportunity for new sustainability models. In this sense, the FTA can at the same time be seen as an experiment where several of these models are being put into practice: the basic operating costs of the virtual campus and its official study programme are covered mainly by the learners’ tuition fees. Additional sources of income and contributions by peers make it possible to develop other activities such as the updating of learning materials, the development of new ones, the building of a full master’s degree programme based on a common curriculum, further development of the virtual campus and others. These additional sources include public funding and resources contributed by partner universities and other organisations.

Open development methodologies are put in practice at various levels in the FTA. For example for the production of the course books and the development of the virtual campus. To take this one step further, the FTA has recently set up a new node in the world of social networks: a “community portal”, where partners and peers can come together and discuss about the topics of Free Technology in a wide sense and at the same time work together to produce or improve the many aspects that make up the Free Technology Academy.

At the OKCon there will be various occasions to find out more about and engage in the academy. In concrete on Thursday 30 June ay 19.00, there will be a presentation about Shared QA of Free Educational Materials at the FTA. And consecutively a workshop at 19:30 about Building a Common Master Curriculum on Free Technologies.

Interested participants are requested to inform their participation by sending an email to [contact] [ftacademy] [org] and/or join the working group in the FTA Community Portal.

For more details about the workshop please see the FTA Campus Wiki. We look forward to meeting you!