Education is increasingly recognised as a major and growing need for the growing Drupal community. During DrupalCons educational BoFs are very common, but we may need more structure to collaborate on the diversity of challenges for education.
This is a call for participation in an open space (unconference, barcamp) on Drupal and education to coincide with the DrupalCon in London and take place on (Monday 22nd, the day before conference launch). We need at least 20 people or we cancel the event and stick to BoFs. If there are 20-40 people the event will be half a day. When 50+ people sign up we make a full day event of it, if it is not too late to organize this of course. Please fill in the questionnaire if you think you can attend or if you don't think you can attend but are interested in the topic.
The opens space will follow the typical barcamp/unconference format with discussions centered around topics of interest (within the theme) rather than formal presentations.
The overall theme can be divided in three main categories: 1. Drupal and education as business; 2. Education to grow the Drupal community, and 3. Drupal as a platform for (Drupal) education
1. Drupal and Education as a business
Next to the common site building for educational institutes, there are general two opportunities for business related to education: training and Learning Management Systems (LMS). The LMS relates to our issue 3 "Drupal as a platform for (Drupal) education".
It is becoming increasingly important to assess Drupal skills of and provide training for those for whom Drupal is a 9-5 job rather than a passion. As the demand for Drupal talent grows, so does the supply of training. It's not just Lullabot or the DrupalDojo anymore. Aquia's impressive database (http://training.acquia.com) lists some Drupal training event for almost every day. But this does not seem to be enough and efforts are needed towards a Drupal curriculum and/or certification like Acquia Training, DrupalKata or its offshoot, the Drupal Open Learning Inititiative.
2. Education to grow the Drupal community
While the Drupal community is growing, it is aging too. As a community, we should be able to support those that are trying to join the Drupal community but may find it intimidating (like young people and women). And yet one of the driving engines behind Drupal's phenomenal rise in the CMS world has been its ability to attract new talent from the outside. The few who received "full admission" into the community have proven to be a tremendous contribution. Google Summer of Code (GSoC) has been one great initiative that continues to bring new vigor to the Drupal world. Yet, when Angie Byron, the undisputed guiding light of the Drupal community today, started her GSoC project in 2005, there had only been one Drupal conference with 50 attendees and a list of presentation that could fit on a single page. In evolutionarily logistical terms, the Drupal community could have maintained cohesion just by picking each others' fleas. But we have long exceeded the Dunbar number! And no longer a band but a tribe (soon-to-be a nation), we need to look for other means of community maintenance. More formal ways of inducting members into the community (such as education) are necessary. GSoC can only socialize a handful of new Drupal developers a year, now we need 100s or even 1000s. We may have to carefully look at more "traditional" models of schooling and see how to sensitively introduce them into the Drupal universe without damaging what makes it unique. Another possibility is encouraging and extending support for more "rigorous" research and scholarship (which is just a special case of education) into not just the Drupal engine but also its community. . It is hoped that other models will emerge through the discussions.
GSoC and other educational facilitators
Part of educational challenge may be solved by e-learning, thinking of sites like Drupalize.me, LearnByTheDrop, MasteringDrupal, etc. However GSoC shows several organizational challenges too, like recruiting students and mentors, finding good challenges (reminiscent of Problem/Project-Based Learning) for the student (not too hard, but still useful), organizing mentoring hours on IRC, etc. Educational challenges are very different from training. Challenges need to get students inspired, confident and responsible to take on the challenge. Also the revenue stream is very different, it is not a business but a community concern and requires institutional support like GSoC. Options should be explored to extend/expand GSoC or find alternatives.
Drupal in the curriculum of schools
One way to find institutional support may be to collaborate with existing education institutions like schools. There are many schools (basic education, further education, higher education, academia) and each may require different target to introduce Drupal in the curriculum. We should look how to collaborate on bringing Drupal into the curriculum of schools. This would also require making connections with existing accreditation authorities and would vary from country to country. Perhaps even a project translating a base Drupal curriculum to make sense to the educational systems across several systems might be eventually needed.
Research as a special case of education
Research is just a special case of education. It is about knowledge creation instead of knowledge transfer. Research related BoFs in Chicago indicate that research with best practices are looking to Drupal to leverage their work. If we could collaborate more with such research initiatives, it may open another sector for Drupal or it may lead to more organized R&D for Drupal.
3. Drupal as a platform for(Drupal) education
Lastly, we should not forget that any educational efforts will require a platform through which learning will be managed and facilitated. That Drupal should be such platform may seem like an obvious choice. But we should keep in mind that despite some successes, the Drupal out-of-the-box experience as an LMS (VLE, etc.) is not always ideal. As yet, a successful and lasting distribution of Drupal for education is to emerge. That it should contain features of current distributions such as DrupalCommons or the Conference Organising Distribution is obvious. But perhaps a new distribution DrupalLearn that would facilitate creation of classroom projects and individual portfolios that can be found in Mahara, Elgg, etc. A reliable support for SCORM is also necessary. A DrupalLearn distribution could build on the DrupalEd distribution using the power of Features, Views, OG, Panels and Rules along with additional code. This gathering would be an ideal space for discussions on what existing code is available for Drupal as a platform, what else is needed, how Drupal compares to other platforms and where to choose integration with existing systems over custom code.