Example text for inclusion in Concept Paper:
Aims and Objectives
The primary goal of [Name of Camp] is to increase the awareness, integration and adoption of free and open source software (FOSS) tools amongst the voluntary sector in [Name of region]. The emphasis is on building the capacity of non-profit practitioners to use FOSS.
More specifically it aims to:
- Create a venue for intensive peer learning, skill share and knowledge transfer.
- Provide an opportunity for NGOs and intermediaries working at the grass-roots level to expand their practical expertise in [Number] specific areas; media, data, services and crisis management [Include others].
- Diversify and broaden the connections between actors working with FOSS and non-profits in the region.
- Identiy and bring together a core of people who can act as champions and resource people within the region.
- Act as a catalyst for sub-regional and national NGO technology Source events, and train up a core of actors to run similar events.
- Seed connections and future partnerships across a wider spectrum, between developers, intermediaries and NGOs/activists.
- [Add specific objectives]
The event will bring together regional non-profit professionals from both the technical and content ends of the spectrum. Our aim is to use this - and subsequent activities - as an opportunity to broaden expertise, forge new ideas and connections, and encourage the creative use of FOSS within the projects and initiatives of NGOs in the region.
Source Camps build the skills and networks of actors in a particular region who are already working with non-profits and focusing on technology. They are designed to bring together a diverse group of people: from those primarily focused on technology to those more concerned with content. Bringing NGOs together with technologists and conceptual thinkers, in an intensive skill-sharing environment, lays the path for mutual understanding and collaboration.
Previous Source Camps have proven the effectiveness of bringing together the people who are creating and administering software, with those that are implementing and using it. On a general level this serves to raise awareness and build confidence in each others' needs and practices. On a more specific level, it can facilitate NGO practitioners' building practical expertise and enable technologists to better understand the working practices they are designing solutions for. It is for this reason that Source Camp organisers encourage non-technical hierarchies, and promote an "everyone is an expert" ethos.
In the case of [Name of Camp], applications will be solicited from [Number of countries] countries across the [Name of region]. This will be done with the help of members of the advisory group, key existing networks like [Name some networks], mailing lists, websites and on-line communities, as well as through collaborating with funding partners to target specific sectors or countries. The organising team has both an outreach plan and a publicity target list. The organisers would especially like to encourage applications from women and will work with [Name of organisation] and other women's networks in the region to promote the event.
The application process will be competitive. Applicants will be asked to fill in a form providing their biographies, details of their work as well as their reason for wanting to attend. Particular attention will be paid to potential participants' ability to use and apply the skills and contacts within their existing work and projects. Participants will be selected for their experience in implementing technology within the voluntary sector, their potential to contribute to the group, their possibilities for implementing solutions and sharing knowledge on their return home, and their interest in alternative technology solutions. These factors will be balanced out with other concerns such as overall mix of expertise and interests, multi-country representation and gender balance.
Applicants should be proficient in the desktop use of technology and have been involved in technology projects before. Disparities in technical skills wil be addressed through agenda design (streaming) and session formats (one-on-one training slots). The working language of the event is [Language]. Proficient [Language] communication skills are thus required.
The advisory group, togetherwith the organisers, will evaluate the applications. All members of the selection committee will be asked to view a pool of applications, automatically excepting some and placing others in a second review pool. This process will continue until agreement is reached on borderline applicants and a final pool of applicants is agreed upon. This is a highly competitive process, in [Name of previous event] we received over [Number of] applications for just [Number of] places. We would hope that [Name of Camp] will attract a similar, if not higher, number of applications.
Participants will be charged a registration fee (USD [Amount], to be confirmed) and will be asked to cover their own travel. There will be travel and participation subsidies available to participants, which can be applied for along with the Camp application. In [Name of previous event] roughly 10-15% of the participants paid for themselves and others received full 'scholarships' covering travel and registration fees. Any proceeds left over from fees or travel subsidies are used to provide extra materials, resources, equipment, or facilitators during the Camp if necessary, or alternatively for follow-up activities.
The agenda provides participants with a range of hands-on and conceptual sessions to choose from. Throughout the seven days, participants are challenged to both learn from others and share their skills.
Morning sessions are structured and formalised, and focus on a particular content track. The late afternoons are for informal skill share and peer-to-peer learning. These sessions are interspersed with opportunities for free-form learning and socialising.
Previous Source Camps have shown that people perform and engage particularly well if they are able to decide for themselves how to utilise an early afternoon session. This may include continuing a conversation, experimenting with a particular tool, benefiting from one-on-one learning or time for reflection. In some instances, this slot has been used to meet for requests to repeat or extend a session. In others, participants have used this time to catch up on pressing work issues.
The evening sessions are a mixture of themed documentaries, lectures and discussions, screwdriver sessions and light entertainment. Screwdriver sessions are opportunities for participants to get their hands on the inner workings, wirings and practical mechanics of technology. Whilst some screwdriver sessions take place as part of the main agenda, others (e.g. a women-only hardware workshop) are slotted in as extra sessions. The majority of the evening activities take place in around the Bazaar, weather permitting.
In the middle of the week, participants are invited to take part in a half-day outing. This will give participants an opportunity to see local information and communications technology (ICT) projects and efforts in [Name of country].
Facilitators will be from a variety of backgrounds and organisations, and are selected by the organisers, advisory group and agenda teams. They will predominantly selected for their previous experience, complimentary expertise, relevant knowledge, and patience and ability to share and promote learning in others.
They will be drawn from three pools:
(i) Active FOSS implementers and advocates, technology/NGO practitioners and researchers in the region. This will include hackers, trainers, technical support professionals, programmers, support professionals, writers and theorists.
(ii) Previously identified trainers, who have developed experience through previous Source Camps. These trainers are from Africa, Europe, North America, Central and South East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. They will be selected in accordance with the regional needs and the unique expertise they will bring to the event.
(iii) New facilitators will be identified from the application pool. This has been found to be the best way to ensure the identification of new expertise. In addition to holding their own sessions, all facilitators are expected to participate in the entire event.
All participants will be given a special edition, region specific, version of NGO-in-a-box. NGO-in-a-box is a set of peer-reviewed and selected software, materials and documentation aimed at NGOs. The box set comprises a hand-picked selection of tried and tested tools and materials for NGO use.
This edition of NGO-in-a-box will include the full range of software tools and materials that participants have been exposed to during the week. It will also include thematic editions of NGO-in-a-box that are designed for use as stand-alone toolkits, in the areas of, for example, audio and video, open publishing and security.
FOSS for non profits
The organisers' approach to free and open source software (FOSS) education for non-profits is not framed in opposition to proprietary software. Rather, we believe that true freedom is an understanding of the choice, and an ability to implement one or the other depending on the needs at hand. In some cases, a combination of both may be necessary. Our belief is that FOSS has great potential for social software development and for the non-profit sector. We view the Source Camps as opportunities to help create options and choice for low-resourced organisations with low levels of income, that are challenged by their immediate infrastructure.
FOSS solutions enable non-profits to work with legal and secure software that can be integrated with legacy systems. They can provide models of technology implementation for low-resourced organisations using old or outdated equipment and refurbished computers. They can provide access to software that is localised, both in terms of language and specific contexts. They can also be adapted to specific organisational or project needs. Whilst uptake has its challenges in the short term, these factors may in the long-term make FOSS a more sustainable and economically viable option for non-profits in the [Name of region] context.
Within the voluntary sector it is still extremely important to raise leaders' and decision makers' awareness as to the reality and potential of FOSS. However, experience shows that the lack of local technical expertise is the immediate stumbling block for progressive and experimental voluntary sector organisations who want to implement FOSS. We strongly believe that the longer-term challenge in widespread adoption of FOSS is the development of local practical implementation capacity. Without this, the use of FOSS, whatever the reason -- be it economic, linguistic, ethical, concerned with security or for customisation purposes -- will inevitably remain restricted. A crucial catalyst is the growth of peer exchange and on-going learning amongst technology implementers working with non-profits across the region. We believe that more work is needed in [Name of region] to follow up on investments made to date in building skills and strengthening ties at the practical level.