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FTA Announcement #8: scholarships, FTA community, new books and tools

1. New FTA materials

The FTA is proud to announce the availability of two new coursebooks, both under a free Copyleft license: "Open Networks" and "Legal aspects of the Information Society".

WARNING: the date of this post is approximate! All announcements from 2008 to 2013 have APPROXIMATE, guessed dates, because restored from a partial backup, to document the history of FTA.

 "Open Networks" is part of the module "Network Technologies" and was written by Enric Peig Olivé. This coursebook explores the different aspects of open technologies that are at the foundations of modern computer networks. The Internet is built on top of open protocols and open standards.

In this context, "open" means the opposite of "private". Private networks are those which belong to companies or institutions who impose restrictions on users who join them. Open networks do not belong to anybody because the devices they use are made available by the members of the community.

You can get a copy of the coursebook here.

 "Legal Aspects of the Information Society" is the title of the second coursebook we have recently published. Its authors are Malcolm Bain, Manuel Gallego, Manuel Martínez Ribas and Judit Rius. The book contains fundamental information for those who want to understand Free Software and how to contribute and benefit from it in a safe and legal way. Concepts like existing legal systems of software protection - copyright, patents, trademark and key concepts like Copyleft and free licenses - will provide a general background upon which practical skills for different contexts can be built.

You can get a copy of the coursebook here: here.

2. FTA Scholarships for September

The first phase of the FTA is financially supported by the Life Long Learning programme (LLP) of the European Commission. While the FTA has already exceeded the target for the European Commission in terms of courses and learners, we have extra space available for learners who wish to enhance their knowledge but are not in a position to raise the required tuition fee. For this reason we have set up a scholarship programme for the third and last course round during this phase, that will run from September 6 2010 to December 6 2010.

Of course the FTA continues in 2011. For the tentative programme, please see here. No scholarships for 2011 are being scheduled at this time.

To find out if you are eligible to apply for a scholarship for a module starting in September 2010, please take a look here.

3. Annotation-tools and feedback

Many of you who have downloaded FTA materials have offered us valuable comments and feedback, although until now we didn't have the appropriate tools to collect and revise all that input. In the coming weeks we'll be testing a PDF annotation tool that allows any user to submit comments on a PDF document using a web interface. It will soon be integrated with the FTA Campus, but for now you can try it here:

The PDF annotation software was developed by Jakko van der Pol and INFI. Jakko has kindly agreed to release it under the Affero GPL v3 license, and is collaborating with the FTA development team in the integration of this tool with Moodle and the FTA Campus.

4. FTA Community Portal

The FTA Community Portal is a space meant for sharing knowledge and participating in concrete activities related to FTA courses or Free Technologies in general. Any help will be welcome to continue building the FTA based on free (as in freedom) knowledge and Open Standards. The FTA partnership wants to open up its infrastructure and resources so all interested participants can benefit from them. In that sense the FTA Community Portal can be seen as a way to both facilitate learning as well as to make participation in FTA projects and activities accessible to more people.

The FTA Community Portal is based on Mahara, "a fully featured electronic portfolio, weblog, resume builder and social networking system, connecting users and creating online communities". For more information about Mahara, see The FTA Campus team has integrated Mahara with the Moodle and University Campus framework.

At the FTA Community Portal you can generate your own profile, explain in what projects you are involved, discuss different aspects of the FTA or other related topics. You name it, as long as it is about Free Technology and Free Culture, use the space as you like! Set up your profile at

register first freely at and get to the FTA Community Portal from there!

5. Obtaining an official Master's degree

The studies started at the FTA can be continued at the FTA Consortium Partner universities to obtain an official Master's degree. These partner universities offer full master programmes related to free software:

  • Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain) offers a Master's degree in free software that is given in Catalan, Spanish and English. More information can be found at this website [1]. A UOC advisor can be contacted directly to request more information or start the enrolment process by following this link [2].
  • At the Open University Netherlands, FTA certificates are accepted in their Master of Computer Science, which is provided by the School of Computer Science [3]. Details about recognition of FTA certificates can be found here (in Dutch) [4].
  • The University of Agder recognises (at least) the following courses as electives in their graduate programme of Information Systems:
    • The concepts of Free Software and Open Standards
    • Economic aspects of Free Software
    • Legal aspects of the Information Society

(For students in the UiA bachelor programme in IT and Information Systems, at most six FTA modules will be recognized within the IS/ICT part of the elective area)

The FTA partners are designing an International Master Programme that will extend the current FTA programme and builds on previous experiences from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Open Universiteit Netherlands, Universitat Rey Juan Carlos and University of Agder. A taskforce has been set up with representatives from these universities and the Free Knowledge Institute. The implementation of this programme does take some time and therefore we recommend FTA learners interested in obtaining a Masters degree to check with the above mentioned partners to consider completing their studies there.

Any comments about the curriculum, recognition of FTA courses and possibilities for obtaining a Masters degree can be discussed in the FTA Community Portal [5].






6. Print on Demand service for FTA course books

A Print on Demand service is launched by the partners of the FTA. For many people a printed book is still desired to facilitate the learning process. The service is based on cost prices for the printing, handling and distribution and is first made available for people who register for courses in the FTA.

The first priority is to ship the books to learners who register for courses in the coming trimester (starting at September 6th). All registrations completed by August 15th can ask for this service when registering. If you registered before this service was available, and would like to make use of it, please contact us so we can process your request manually. The FTA partnership hopes this service strengthens the FTA educational experience! For those of you self-learners, who don't subscribe to the FTA courses but are still interested in printed copies of coursebooks: you can either print the books yourself or wait until we have our processes in place to handle individual book orders. You could of course also try to use commercial PoD services.

7. FTA Certificates

Learners at the FTA can obtain a certificate for each of the modules they pass successfully. The FTA certificate is issued - on behalf of the FTA partners - by Prof. Dr. Lex Bijlsma, Dean of the Computer Science Department of the Open University Netherlands, who chairs the Quality and Recognition team in the FTA.

The certificates are recognised by the participating universities and enable learners to extend their study options in the area of Free Technologies as a complement to the existing curricula of the universities. The certificates are issued in digital form (PDF) and a validator tool will be made available in the near future. Here you can see one of the first FTA learners, Marius Popma, who published his profile and FTA certificate:

His PDF certificate:

About the Free Technology Academy

A Consortium formed by the Open University of Catalonia (Spain), the Open University of the Netherlands and the University of Agder (Norway) and led by the Free Knowledge Institute (FKI), the FTA has received the support from the EC's Lifelong Learning Programme to set up an international educational programme on Free Software. The courses are taught completely online in a virtual campus based on the Campus Project interoperability framework.

Following the Open Educational Resources movement, all learning materials are freely available through the Internet. The use of Free Software (also referred to as Open Source software or Libre Software) is rapidly expanding in governmental and private organisations. However, still only a limited number of ICT professionals, teachers and decision makers have sufficient knowledge and expertise in these new fields. The Free Technology Academy aims to address this gap by providing high level courses that fit into larger Master Programmes at the participating universities.