I had also taught computer science to middle school students (11-14 years old) for many years, to prepare them for the ECDL exams.
Some years ago, in 2009, I became aware of some problems with different versions of Windows OS and the productivity suite MS Office: students were not able to practice at home because they didn’t have the same version of the software as the one used at school and, they frequently installed it on their own computers, without a regular license.
Therefore, since I am convinced that school should teach legality first, and having been myself a user and a supporter of the free software for years, I decided to offer my students an ECDL course based on it.
I wrote some handouts, that you can find in this website, I installed Ubuntu 8.10 (dual boot) in my school laboratory computers, and I successfully faced this challenge.
However, from the very beginning, I became aware of some problems:
- We could use both, Gnome and KDE, for Module 2 on Operative Systems, but only KDE for the other modules;
- software installation was difficult to repeat because it used a short-term version of Ubuntu, and a non standard version of OpenOffice.org, that was not directly available in the Ubuntu 8.10 repositories.
Therefore, in 2011 I suggested to a friend, who was then working for Aica (the Italian authority for ECDL), reviewing and updating the software that was subject to the exams. I was surprised by Aica positive reply to my request and, on the introduction of the New Ecdl, I was proposed to take part in the design and testing of the version that would become the present one, based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS together with LibreOffice v. 3.5.2..
So, I wrote new handouts, updated the software at school and tested the new version with three groups of students (7th and 8th grade), with great success and satisfaction on my and the students’ part. In fact, apart from passing the exams with excellent marks, they also started appreciating free softwares.
Actually, my handouts today are published in Italian only (if someone wants to translate them, please, let me know and contact me), under CC license, therefore everybody can freely use them.