Idea Evolution and for profit vs non-for profit


The website/content idea has taken over the robotics Road Trip idea.

First of all let me tell you about how this idea started. It started as me wanting to take robotics workshops all around Australia so I could travel to see what was in my own backyard and I could say I was doing something substantial along side it. This was something I thought I could do as a volunteering holiday for a year under Robogals. maybe call it the Great Australian Robogals Roadtrip (GARR for short ^_^). Then it involved maybe creating content and workshops along side it. Now it has become more about the free creative commons education resource that I want to create.

There are many great free online resources out there for learning. Dr Graeme Robotics Tutorials, khanacademy and codecademy are just to name a few. My biggest concern is they all are protected by copyright. I’m fortunate enough to live in the same state as Dr Graeme and he has offered my some advice in this area. However there is a video on his site I use quite a fair bit and would love to update but I don’t want it to be copy righted. A quick search for creative commons educational resources yields ample of results. I haven’t found something that reflects what I want to do yet though.

Now this brings me back to what I want to do. I want to make an online resource where I can publish robotics workshops/lessons and technology based workshops/lessons for both teachers and students. I want the content released under a creative commons license and I want people to be able to modify my content and to be able to create their own. I would also release lesson plans along side under creative commons as well. I could start off as just a youtube channel/ open education wiki media content and see if it takes off from there.

One of the ways I could make money out of this idea is to say to schools, “Hey, look at this awesome resource I’ve created that you can access for free, you can pay me to come to your school with all of the required hardware to run a workshop/taster/career talk or you can donate so I can take workshops to remote areas in Australia” or maybe I could get into the consultation/teacher training space to generate income.

I’ve been volunteering for Robogals for a few years now and I think what they are doing is great. We definitely need more females in Engineering and Technology professions. If only to create more diverse teams that come up with better solutions and are more innovative (there are a few studies to support this statement, I’ll dig them up later). As I changed from an Engineering course to a Computer Science course I saw a similar issue in IT. This has changed my focus to promoting Engineering and Technology.

As I’m still in the ideas phase I don’t really have much content yet. I’m hoping to spend the first 6 months next year focusing in this area. I’m happy to let anyone else take reign of the website component (or even the idea completely) as long as people stay true to the vision of general openness and open education. Maybe I should have a vision statement?

Another thing I have to figure out is how to make is sustainable. I’m willing to put at least the next 3 years of my life into this project and I need to be able to put food on the table from it. I like the donation-esk idea but it comes back to the issue of running it as a for profit or a non-for profit. I don’t think for-profits can ask for donations but non-for profits can’t really access the option of crowd funding. I would like to run it as a hybrid of the two (for profit enough to pay for my food but all of the extra profits will be going into rural initiatives and expanding the idea) but I think the law requires me to label myself with one or try to manage a mash up of the two.

Thank you for staying with me on such a long post. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

GovHack 2013

GovHack sounds like people hacking the government. Which is somewhat right but it’s with governments’ approval. GovHack is about governments opening up their data and seeing what a big bunch of developers and likeminded people can do with that data over the space of a weekend. There were over 1000 participants and observers nationwide and there were 135 teams formed. There were some amazing projects that came out of the weekend and $170,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.

Our Team, “The Tasmanian Tiger Team” produced a web based app where you can see a storm water map feeding into the Derwent River. We’ve tried to provide functionality where people in the community can monitor their own water ways by uploading pictures and tagging the map. Our presentation can be viewed here. It’s mostly a proof of concept and there is a fair bit more we could implement. However, we managed to walk away with 3 local prizes.

There were two Tasmanian teams that both received national prizes. One of my favourite apps is called, “Marvellous Ultimate Appliance” and it is a card based game where you get to pitch you house hold appliances against your neighbours to see who wins. Attack and defence are based on energy efficiency. Have a play here. Some other projects that I think are shiny are Australia in Review allows you to scroll through recent Australian History, Impress Me allows you to assess your carbon footprint and Deathmatch me is a fun way of comparing and displaying cause of death facts.

All of these great ideas are just some of the possible applications of providing open data to people and no we’re not likely to find any government’s deep dark secrets just by data mining sensis data.