The Viral Academy Georgia: learning open source software to learn how to work together

Who are we?

We are a loose coalition of Georgian and EU citizens and NGOs considering a closer collaboration. We came together in the context of Spot The Future, a foresight exercise rolled out by the United nations Development Program in Georgia, Armenia and Egypt.

What problem are we trying to solve? 

In Georgia, many people illegally download commercial software, mostly because they do not realize there is open sourced software (OSS) out there which does exactly the same. This goes hand-in-hand with the low level of digital literacy in the country: OSS is perceived as difficult to install, configure and use.

Additionally, we agree that NGOs in Georgia could achieve much more if they collaborated more. Collaboration is difficult for several reasons, and not just in Georgia. We think a EU project (the first one for most parties involved) would be a good chance to start a collaboration on neutral territory.

What do we want to do? 

We want to deploy a Viral Academy (VA) in Georgia. In this case, you can think of the VA as a school or set of courses where people would learn how to install, configure and use a whole OSS stack starting from a blank machine (Linux, Firefox, LibreOffice…). What makes the VA unique is that each student, to complete the course, must become a teacher, and pass on the knowledge to other students, which in their turn must then become teachers. The virality that results makes (time-intensive) hands-on teaching of OSS sustainable

What do we hope to achieve with that?

  1. A cohort of VA students who know how to install and configure OSS on computers, and cultivate an attitude of sharing that knowledge.
  2. A shared experience of positive collaboration between at least two Georgian NGOs. 

Who are our allies?

We are discussing this project with Edgeryders, a UK social enterprise with a community of over 2,000 mostly young, mostly EU-based hackers and changemakers; and with other like-minded NGOs in Armenia and Egypt. Some work is already being done on the VA’s methodology by a group of people based in the UK, Italy, Sweden and Denmark.

What is our next step?

We would like to gather information on opportunities for EU funding of a Viral Academy prototype in Georgia.


Stub done!

Done. I hope that @fortyfoxes does not resent me the use of the VA concept here. David, of course you are superwelcome aboard!

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Thanks a lot @Alberto! I feel like it’s a great initiative. @ericnbarrett, @Mamaduka, please take a look at it and adjust accordingly!

Thanks @Alberto

At the Thursday Community Call we decided it is about the time to make a short introduction of Viral Academy and a call to join forces. So far we have been fleshing out the methodology, testing different combinations of tools and the social business model is on it’s way. Futurespotters threads are full of oopmph. I’m excited about overlaps and things which can be done once the swarm mode kicks in.

@mamaduka, @Inge, @ericbarret join in, lets talk about this!  



This is very interesting. 10 years ago, a group of Egyptian youth organised a successful event in a newly established Cultural Center in DT Cairo. They distributed free software CDs, and helped beginners and experts with the problem that they face. Many people come that day. I found this course:

Good luck!

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You can come aboard too!

Thanks, @amiridina, but why “good luck”? If you like this, you can be involved too. Egypt is also eligible for Horizon 2020 funding.

I like the idea.

Installation of Unix distributions become much easier in past few ears, plus there are new distributions who provide much simpler UI, like CrunchBang and Elementary.

It would be great to create hub, where we’ll showcase/link good apps for Unix distributions, hand picked ones for each category.

I think fist two/three trainings can be done without any funding. 

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Prototype at Futurespotters?

We could even prototype this at Futurespotters. I don’t have the skill to do it myself, but if you, @Mamaduka, take the lead, we can give it a try. Checkout the draft agenda – it could be one of the freestyle activities of the 24th, maybe?

This is amazing.

I’m keen on learning how to reach out into academia on open source and would love to know more.