[Bf-education] Evening, Project Proposal, I would love feedback

Chris Ward drpoo at drpooville.org
Fri Sep 22 02:24:36 CEST 2006

Evening everyone (how many members are on this list anyway?)

I'm a new joiner to this list. My name is Chris Ward. I'm 21, a senior 
at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor--almost graduated with 
bachelors degree in Human Ecology, and a avid advocate of Free / Open 
Source Software.

I'm working on a project which deals heavily with Blender3D and 
education...I would absolutely love you all to read my initial proposal 
and give me some feedback.  I feel this is the most appropriate place to 
start asking for support. It's a short few pages, and i've never really 
been the best writer, but I believe it's pretty clear and concise. 
Comment on anything you like. Ask questions. Critique. Suggest. Just let 
me have it! There's lots of questions still left unanswered. This is 
just my initial vision, and I want the final product to be a product of 
the community.

I'll paste it here inline, and i'll also attach it in case you prefer to 
snag it and read it in your favorite ODT compatible doc reader. :-)

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy reading it, and that it inspires you a bit.

Sleep tight and happy Blending,


Chris Ward       College of the Atlantic - Fall 2006

Technologias Abiertas

Centro de Educacion para los Videojuegos y Deseno Graphicos 3D

(Open Technologies

Education Center for Video Games and 3D Graphic Design)

My mission for it all is pretty straight forward, however intricately 
complex in the making. For now, I will focus first on simply proposing a 
general idea of my project to my college for bureaucratic reasons, and 
to you, the public at large, for feedback and critique. (Debo hacerlo en 
espanol tambien, no? Si. Lo hare pronto) 

For my Final Project at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor Maine, I 
would like to develop a business plan for a very unique non governmental 
organization called Technologia Abierta. This NGO will be an Education 
Center set up in the state of Yucatan, Mexico, that will provide the 
resources for students to learn to use the commercial quality 3D 
graphic, animation and game design software Blender3D, and will 
strive also to make the resources available to as many people as 
feasibly possible in the area.

I have a few major visions of the results:

Firstly, I would like to see an environment setup there that 
encouraged the productive and fulfilling use of time and potential 
resources that computers provide alongside its' general use for 
entertainment value. It is also my hope that the consumers of these 
technologies in the Yucatan will become also their creators. I hope to 
provide opportunities for community building through collaborative 
learning, effective use of space, sharing of information and ideas, and 
appropriate use of technology. I hope to see Technologias Abiertas 
become the start of a center for digital cultural action which the 
community will one day call their own.

It is a fact that millions of youth and adults worldwide spend hundreds 
of hours each year playing video games on the PC or some gaming console 
like Nintendo or Playstation. In Mexico however, this statistic does not 
describe the current context of today so clearly, but it is coming 
to quite rapidly. Mexico is still known as a third world country 
economically and has only very recently dedicated itself to breaking 
free from this undesirable label. Life has been changing with great 
velocity these days for the citizens of Mexico, and especially so since 
Vicente Fox came to office. One of the major political goals in Mexico 
since his inauguration was to enhance the economy and the quality of 
life as a whole through the increased dependence and use of modern 
technologies in everyday life. And in the race to keep up with the quick 
pace of developing technologies, the state of Yucatan has become one of 
the forerunners in Mexico to effectively integrate themselves into the 
new digital world.

Having spent some significant time in the Yucatan recently with Karla 
Pena (www.yucatanlearning.com) and the crew of the Yucatan Spanish 
Immersion Program from College of the Atlantic (I attended this school 
program both in winter of 2004/5 and 2005/6 - more information: 
www.coa.edu), I was lucky enough to experience firsthand the growth of 
market demands there for computers and other modern digital 
technologies the same. One of the first things I noticed, having an eye 
for these sorts of things, was that the markets in the consumer 
technology industries were growing exceedingly fast. The sale of 
electronics, like mp3 players, video players, audio equipment, and home 
televisions, etc. was really beginning to pick up. I noticed significant 
changes that had occurred even over just one year. The interest in 
computer and console gaming was no different. And if anything can be 
told by the patterns of growth in this market in other countries like 
the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Holland, countries of the 
European Union in general, and the like, it leaves me with only one 
conclusion: the gaming fever in Mexico has only just begun.

It is my opinion then, one based off of own personal experience in video 
gaming culture, inference from the words of others native to Yucatan and 
those from abroad, and by observation from within the context of 
technological development projects that I took participated in while 
living in the Yucatan, the change of landscape the Yucatan is seeing 
today could become a double edged sword. If these new technologies are 
used appropriately they really could bring about a significant upward 
swing in the economy, education of the people, the transparency of 
government and the general quality of life. However if abused, or used 
with ignorance they can just as easily cause harm to local communities 
and hurt the growth of the individual. But that's to say the obvious 
without saying much, and for now I'll keep it vague and stay on topic. 
It's time to explain how I think Technologias Abiertas could help some 
in the Yucatan to avoid some of these the negatives in its own small 
way, and how I very generally expect to achieve it.

Firstly, with Technologias Abiertas it is my intention to provide the 
newly forming gaming market in the Yucatan a fighting chance to convert 
some potentially bad habits of computer gaming that we have all seen 
develop in so many other places into something that is highly productive 
and fulfilling to the user by turning the passive playing into active 
creating. It is too easy to waste away hundreds of hours on 
video games without walking away with any tangible gain. Technologias 
Abiertas will be dedicated to providing an environment were active 
creation is encouraged alongside participation. It will be an Non 
Governmental Education Center located in the incredible capital city of 
Merida, Yucatan that focuses its course development on 3D graphic and 
gaming design using the Free Software 3D Creation Suite Blender3D (and 
other Free and Open Source -FOSS- tools that accompany it in creation 
needs, i.e. sound, 2D graphics editing and the underlying GNU Linux 
operating system as is needed). The courses will cover the basic 
education from Beginner to Advanced skill levels, and will use an 
educational approach that integrates collaborative learning and project 
building, volunteer teaching and curriculum development, multiple 
disciplines, and a philosophy of cultural action.  This is the first 
priority of a small handful that will guide me ('us') in its development.

The next priority will be aimed at giving all Intermediate and Advanced 
level students a chance to take their knowledge of 3D design and their 
enthusiasm for gaming to a new level by providing them with the tools to 
start heading down the path of Game Design and Development. Still using 
Blender 3D in combination with other accompanying FOSS tools, learners 
would gain ever important experience and exposure through collaborative 
project building and design. 

And here at this point I would like to pause for a moment to explain a 
little more thoroughly my vision of how this aspect of education in game 
design at Technologias Abiertas will look in the end.

In the process of teaching the fundamentals of gaming design, it is with 
respect to all the people of Yucatan, Mexico and Latin America in 
general that I will invite all students and faculty of Technologias 
Abiertas to take a step outside the box to incorporate a philosophy of 
game design that appeals to local customs and perspectives of life, 
culture, and understanding rather than simply creating to meet the 
expectations of popular culture. It is my hope in doing this to find 
that through the localization of games to present contexts, a larger 
potential market could be reached that was generally ignored or 
overlooked. Also, as a side-effect of popularity in local contexts, I 
hope to find that this approach also encourages the preservation of 
culture and community through games by embedding an understanding and 
appreciation of local values and world-views into the minds of the 
quickly growing video game playing youth of the day. Family values, 
community morals and ethics, language, humor, history, and even ways of 
problem solving and learning are all valuable and viable aspects of 
local cultures that could be incorporated into the content and design of 
games that differ in the Yucatan compared with other parts of the world. 
And how it would be done would be completely dependent on the students 
themselves. They are the ones who know their cultures the best, and so 
it will be up to them to develop to their own needs. Technologias 
Abiertas will act only as an enabler, allowing the freedom of developers 
to create games which can fill the cultural and educational niches in 
the gaming market that are currently left void, that respect the 
creators own culture.

The third element of Tecnologias Abiertas will be to 
provide Yucatan's gaming enthusiasts of today and tomorrow an exciting, 
fun, comfortable, clean and modern locale for playing the games created 
by the community--gaming cafe-style (likely those of popular culture too 
will be played, I don't believe this could be avoided. World of Warcraft 
is just too good of a game! And these games are great tools for learning 
anyway). This aspect of Technologias Abiertas will play a fundamental 
role in drawing in active members of the expanding gaming community in 
Yucatan, and will reach out to them to provide the encouragement and 
support they might need to turn their passion for the virtual into 
something real.

Weaving together all these pieces like a spiders web, the social aspects 
of the gaming experience, in combination with the 3D graphic and gaming 
design, intimate interaction and commitment between the foreseeable 
faculty, staff and students, and enlightened community development 
educational models will, I believe, work together to form a synergy of 
creative powers that could put Yucatan on a road toward success in the 
3D design and gaming markets and the creation of the first human 
ecological graphic and gaming design education organizations in the 
whole world. 

A lot, well, that is not all just yet. In my attempt to provide 
a one-of-a-kind environment for learning 3D graphic and gaming design, a 
unique environment for gaming in general, and a community for cultural 
activism (if that is the best word for it...), Tecnologias Abiertas will 
also be dedicating itself to the exclusive use of Free and Open Source 
Software (FOSS) where no other reliable or viable alternative option 
exists. There will be great effort done to ensure that only as the last 
possible choice will any non-free source software, or proprietary 
software be used in the courses offered in our education programs or in 
the configuration of the gaming cafe parallel either. All software 
possible in other words, will need to be licensed according to the GPL 
Free Software licensing terms or one of it's close relatives such as 
LGPL, Creative Commons, and the like. In doing so it is my intention to 
provide the opportunity for all participants to join and take part in 
the the global Free and Open Source communities that support their right 
to freely learn from, use and profit from such software as Blender3D. 
Also, I believe it is the only reasonable option I have based on the 
type of community inspired education model I intend to follow, since it 
holds sharing, collaboration and dialog as central elements to success. 
Knowledge is a thing to share, and so are all things derived from it. At 
Technolgias Abiertas, we will be committed to staying open to share 
through the act of contribution and dialog with the community which 
supports us.

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