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Re: [tdf-discuss] TDF Certification


On 23 June 2011 03:27, Goran Rakic <grakic@devbase.net> wrote:

Hi all,

I believe that TDF should not do any kind of end-user certification.


Maybe you are right that TDF shouldn't do it itself but I don't think that
is the same as not having an interest in it.

I have spent 6 years researching and building the infrastructure to support
end-user certification for FOSS applications. We know there is demand - we
have UK schools with 500 students doing the generic versions of our
certificates and we have evidence that some of those MS Office users have
migrated to OOo as a direct result. That in itself is part of the strategy.

Instead, I am more in line with a certification ecosystem focused on
corporate and individual partners that provide value added services.


If you mean things like training, installation and migration it is something
very different from certificating end-user skills and requires its own set
of expertise. Moodle does this successfully so it would be worth talking to
Martin Dougiamas about that.  Moodle is a bit different from LibO because it
needs setting up in schools and colleges so there is a more obvious need for
third party supporting companies. Moodle restricts the use of its trademark
to approved partners.

IANAL, but as I am reading trademark policy correctly nothing stops a

third-party to issue end-user certification targeting LibreOffice, using
both name and logo ("Certificate of qualification for LibreOffice").


This is true and we have copyright clearance from Oracle for the use of the
OOo trademarks. However, community endorsement will help strengthen the
proposals and might even be necessary in some markets. If the community
simply allows third parties to do this without any thought, it is missing an
opportunity to get revenue into development and marketing for very little
effort or risk. Maybe you think there is enough volunteer resource and
donations but my view is that it is difficult to be over-resourced. MSFT is
arguably and exception :-) LibO needs to migrate to the Web and/or
Smartphones - where will the resources come to achieve that?

These end users certificates issued by third-parties can be in line with
the national skills framework, ECDL or something else. While personally
do not think greatly of these skills frameworks, for the users they give
more value than something made at TDF.


They won't happen by magic. We are offering TDF partnership with UK national
accreditation with government regulatory control, referenced to the European
Qualifications Framework. (We have two transfer of innovation grants from
the EU Lifelong Learning Programme totalling 600,000 Euros and we can apply
for more) Market channels are already developed into several countries.
(Malaysia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Spain, Germany, Kenya, South
Africa with others imminent) Yes we can just do it anyway - (I decided to do
this in the earlier days of OOo when there was moaning about having no money
for marketing. Then I suggested a business strategy to solve that but I was
unable to get anyone to understand it, not even in Sun.) This development
requires specialist expertise and I have 30 years professional experience at
senior levels in UK education nationally and not insignificant
internationally.  It's not easy though. If it was someone would have done it
already.

Since there has been a major change with LibO and OOo I'm trying again. I
can just provide certificates with an OOo logo on them for all certification
based on the OOo code base and take all the money (actually its cost me and
some other investors a lot of money to get this far so it will take a bit
more time to get significant surplus beyond operating costs. Building a
global business is not easy or free as in free beer) or we can make a
payment to the project related to the particular context in which the
certification was achieved. TDF doesn't have to do anything apart from lend
its support.

Our quality assurance is regulated by the UK government, we have the
infrastructure built on LAMP and Drupal with a policy of continual
improvement, all our content is CC licensed. Our pedagogical approach is
much less expensive, more up to date and compatible with current EU
vocational educational thinking and can reach people that things like
ECDL/ICDL can't. We are not competing with those directly, we are creating
new markets in line with the principles of disruptive innovation. In the
long term we plan to produce a vast range of CC licensed educational
resources that will support education in the developing world as internet
access gets more and more affordable. Our certification does not just cover
Office applications, there are units for collaborative technologies, mobile
technologies, specialist applications etc. We are currently developing
English for non-native speakers and management qualifications.

For the certificates targeting VAS providers, I am not sure who will
take the responsibility of establishing a certain level of quality for
the certification training? In our fragile meritocracy, how to measure
who is qualified to give training and evaluate organizations in the name
of TDF through the certification process?


We have developed a whole range of policies and procedures with the UK
regulators, many of which will be applicable.
https://theingots.org/community/policies_index

Everything on our community site is CC licensed so you are welcome to take
any of this and modify it if you want to.  Our business model is based on
quality assurance services and professional expertise, not selling licenses
for content or code.  Free content will simply give us a competitive
advantage and fits the FOSS philosophy.

It may be a sound idea to remove TDF completely from the training and
leave this to third parties named in the draft document.

The motivation for the organizations and individuals to join this
certification process is clear. For a reasonable fee they get the
visibility including a measure of quality that may attract new business
opportunities.

If the training is provided by TDF, this can improve knowledge sharing,
growing motivation. On the other hand, given that we are a free software
project, help and resources are generally available in the community.

We can not have documents, videos and welcome packages available only to
the certified individuals under proprietary license or expect that
volunteers will dedicate more time on the mailing lists answering
certified individuals. I am not sure how TDF can offer this kind of
services.


It doesn't need to. All it needs to do is have a set of criteria or even a
simple contractual statement that the partner company providing services on
behalf of the community will uphold community principles and not bring it
into disrepute. In return for this endorsement and use of the trademark the
company will contribute back in some agreed way. It does not need to be
complex. It can be low risk and scalable. Simply delegate because that then
maximises existing resource for the core business.

In the text, it looks like the development professional description got
mixed up. In my view, a development professional should be competent to
fix bugs and add new features to the LibreOffice core. The competence
can be measured with level of contributions to the source code. This is
close, but distinctive from the Integration professional where
extensions and ready made tools/scripts are used to integrate
LibreOffice with other software.

I share the comments from the wiki talk page and recommend that the
number of required certificated individuals should be proportional to
the number of employees in the organization to be recognized as
certificated organization. It may be good to recognize organization with
a single specialization, like just training or migration. I do not see
the need to specialize in 3 different areas.


There needs to be clarification about different functions.

Company Systems Integrator - Qualified in network set ups EQF Level 6
Teacher - qualified and certificated in teaching IT user skills EQF Level 5
End User Accounts - qualified in using Calc at EQF level 3
End User Plans - qualified in using Draw at EQF level 2

These are just a few of the possible distinct types of certification. You
would need to write assessment criteria for all of them or take shared units
from the UK QCF, for example. Shared units are like FOSS where the units are
shared between the suppliers to minimise unnecessary repetition. The UK
Qualifications and Credit Framework has around 100,000 units on it across
all sectors and it is growing.

So I'm saying that this is not a trivial under-taking. We know what we are
doing and it has still taken about 1.5 million Euros of investment and about
30 person-years of work to get to where we are now. Seems to me sensible not
to try and re-invent the wheel :-)

-- 
Ian

Ofqual Accredited IT Qualifications (The Schools ITQ)

www.theINGOTs.org +44 (0)1827 305940

The Learning Machine Limited, Reg Office, 36 Ashby Road, Tamworth,
Staffordshire, B79 8AQ. Reg No: 05560797, Registered in England and
Wales.

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