NZOSA Finalists Part 5: Open Source in Education, Social Services and Youth

NZOSA Finalists Part 5: Open Source in Education, Social Services and Youth

Over the next two months we'll be featuring the finalists from each category in the 2021 New Zealand Open Source Awards, preceding the February 2022 gala dinner and award announcements. Congratulations to all the finalists, and we look forward to celebrating all your valuable work at the gala dinner in February 2022.

Open Source in Education, Social Services and Youth
Pūmanawa Herekore i te Mātauranga, ngā Ratonga Pāpori me te Rangatahi

NZSL Share(external link) by Deaf studies Research Unit(external link), Victoria University of Wellington and Ackama(external link) partnering with JR McKenzie Trust(external link)'s Deaf Development Fund and MSD Office for Disability Issues(external link)

The Deaf Studies Research Unit and Ackama designed and developed a solution to the need for the New Zealand deaf community and sign language users to communicate about new and previously undocumented signs.

NZSL Share is an open source software project, operating alongside the NZSL online dictionary, free NZSL e-learning material and other online initiatives that support the New Zealand Sign Language Board’s strategic objectives.

As NZSL expands into new areas of use, there is an increasing demand for new sign vocabulary. NZSL Share was developed in response to a need for a community-controlled online space where the Deaf community can discuss newly emerging or previously unrecorded signs. NZSL Share also meets the needs of non-Deaf NZSL users (such as interpreters or parents of deaf children) to have access to up-to-date language developments, by enabling them to view the discussion, save selected signs in folders, or upload their own signs to a private space.

The NZSL Share platform is being used for ongoing research by the Deaf Studies Research Unit, providing for direct, interactive input by Deaf NZSL users into language documentation and expansion of the NZSL dictionary. Alongside increased status and visibility of NZSL in the public domain, there is now a growing demand for translation and interpreting of information into NZSL. The immediate need to translate and simultaneously interpret public health information during the Covid-19 pandemic response in New Zealand is an example of an event that has rapidly generated and disseminated new terms in NZSL.


OER Foundation (external link)for Higher education built on Open Educational Resources

The OER Foundation coordinates a global network of 40+ higher education institutions and funding provider partners, which together form the Open Education Resource universitas or OERu.

The OERu offers tertiary or university level open source courses to any learner, worldwide, if they have access to an internet connected device. The courses are free to take. The only cost for learners is incurred by those who want formal academic credit for their mastery of course materials, payable to an OERu partner institution for assessment-only services.

One of the OERu's greatest achievements it creating a system of micro-courses which can be taken and assessed independently by partners, as well as a system of transnational course credit articulation agreements that allow learners who meet assessment requirements to convert that success to formal transcript credit across the various higher educations systems around the world.

The OER Foundation is an incorporated charitable foundation based in Dunedin, New Zealand, and is owned by Otago Polytechnic, Ltd. The OER Foundation is a “radically open organisation”. OERu planning meetings are open, streamed online, and minutes published under a CC-BY-SA license.

The Foundation's terms of reference require that its staff use Free and Open Source software where-ever possible: internally, to build its courses and their resources, to deliver all of its courses to learners, as well as to support learner and educator collaboration.


Somar Digital(external link) for designing and building the Citizens Advice Bureau (external link)NZ website and intranet

Somar Digital designed and built the Citizens Advice Bureau’s public website backed by a powerful knowledge base search, along with a full intranet for their 2,600 trained volunteers using the open-source Silverstripe CMS, which helps to make sure all New Zealanders know what their rights are and how to access services they need no matter what the issue is.

Somar Digital utilized the Silverstripe CMS to its fullest potential to bring this highly complex and multi-tiered solution to the Citizens Advice Bureau. As a not-for-profit, CAB’s digital offerings are free to anyone who wants to use the website in order to understand their rights, or who just want to find some information about any issues they are having specific to New Zealand.

Since its release, CAB travelled across NZ to get volunteers up to speed with the new system and get any feedback. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Volunteers noted that it was a "quantum leap forward" and a "dream to use compared with the old site."


University of Canterbury for Analytics for Course Engagement (ACE)(external link)

Launched in April 2020, the Analytics for Course Engagement (ACE) initiative is a collaborative endeavour between IT and the Student Success programme, combining technology with proactive outreach.

Focusing directly on first-years, ACE takes a variety of information about students, combines this with data directly related to engagement in the online learning environment.

Using open source and Artificial Intelligence, ACE predicts and proactively supports students at risk of disengaging, via an organisation wide response plan. A personalised dashboard (embedded in the Learning Management System) enables self-direction in study behaviour, as students can monitor their own engagement relative to their peers in the same course.

This level of transparency has been shown to be a powerful tool, in particular with our Māori, Pacific, low decile and First-in-Family students. During the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown ACE enabled the university to monitor and support our first-years, many of whom had little experience with University study prior to the shift to fully online.


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