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Re: Getting people into Linux
- From: Dave Sampson <samper d gmail com>
- To: For users of Fedora <fedora-list redhat com>
- Subject: Re: Getting people into Linux
- Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 14:26:00 -0500
This subject could obviously use more research, and I wonder if there is
already a group tacling this.
Here is Canada we have a group of public servants (Federal Govt Workers)
that are trying to get open source into local governments.(ref:
http://www.goslingcommunity.org/ ) There might be similar examples of
trying to get it into schools. A while agao the Economist had a few
issues covering open source tech and examples of schools implementing
the switch for the better. (I might check some back issue when I'm bored)
Doing a quick search I came across http://k12os.org/ open source news in
education. kinda where we're looking I think. be interesting to read
through. Lots of (maybe good) info, podcasts, and news feeds...
I think a review is in order
the bellow inline comments are off the top of my head and not
substantiated at all. Cause, well, we all have an opinion.
I think the reality is that technology means many different things to
many different people. A rural school may be very different than an
urban school. But I hear you. being in my mid twenties I remember when
Typing class was a piece of paper covering the keyboard and use mavis
beacon or was it caris Works or something... following the bouncing
bunny and get scored.... typing for the sake of typing... USELESS... if
I know I'm on a treadmill I'll hate excercising, but put my on a hiking
trail and I'll walk all day. Or give me something to research or a
letter to type and I will increase my skills.
Glad you are trying to get more to use Linux and OSS. However, from
my perspective there are some serious issues that should be addressed
through education of the educators, parents, PTA, etc.
1) Many schools teach "keyboarding" which is little more than the use
of Windows and Word. Often they don't even know of OpenOffice. That
is their response to "typing" and "using computers"
2) Many have tight budgets but can get enough for a few "state of the
art" computer centers often with Government grants or corporate grants
-- lots of shiny computers with shiny copies of Windows and shiny
copies of commercial educational software. It really looks good to
They also gets SWEET educational deals from software and hardware
vendors... What I like is the idea of all those older computers
considered obselete... well what perfect chance for students to have
their own REAL LAB... get them dismantle, assemble, canabolize boxes...
go from ground zero to tower of power. I love going to my local computer
reclcers (http://www.computerrecyclersottawa.com/) pardon the E-Waste
advertisement at the begining. But Schools have loads of E-Waste and
obsolete gear... why not make a parralel processing lab,
Those old boxes would be great for file servers, web servers and the like...
At my work in the government I have met many researchers that still
compute geographic projections manualy with huge equations... They don't
know of projects like proj4 (http://proj.maptools.org/) that do it for
you. they are the prime geeks of geeks that have not learned about
libraries. So just because someone is tech savy might also mean they
need a modernization of thier knowledge base. And I feel they are not
receptive to younger yahoos coming in a nd showing them a new car.
3) Schools often don't know of the tools available. For example, my
son's H/S algebra teacher who has never used, or was not aware of
octave, gnuplot, etc.
4) They don't have the staff that are capable of supporting Apple,
Windows, and Linux. They can barely support Apple and Windows.
Windows, sure do what you want. Apple? Will my next comment might work
with MAC OSX.
With linux. Where do you and I get our support? Do we get paid? How
many hours have we spent helping others out? have you ever been helped
by a young prodigy? (probably). My first intro to linux was in grade
school by a super geek.... it wasn't for another 4 or 5 years that I
learned I already knew about linux... so if a student in grade school
can teach a peer, why not let them run with it. My highschool had the
Art Rats and the Compuer Lab Rats. Except they need to open it up as not
to be exclusive. So what about a fully student run computer lab.
Students get co-op credit and you have many hands to make light work.
Funny that, pen source management concepts meet technology.
5) Windows can play mp3 audio files, generate videos, comes with Word,
Excel, and Powerpoint, and comes with IE, a browser that is supported
by most sites (at least this is what it APPEARS like). Other concerns
are secondary (like security, flexibility, openness, etc.).
MP3 - many linux programs and libraries. sure they might be shipped with
the distro, but easily overcome
Video - already done in many popular distros.
Open Office - need I say more?
Firefox - I have only ever run into limitations with plugins. But this
has work arounds
Now I know this is a devils advocate comment. I understand the DOZE
works out of the box. Well so do some live CD's. or a Dirsto can be
modified by a local group for a school board. Then you GHOST/IMAGE the
whole lab with that functionality. So yes say a solution like FEDORA may
not be out of the box, but My system now does everything listed above.
This is a philosophy statement. True we are most comfortable with what
we know. But should education not be about learning? In so far as if I
can use one word processor can I not use all modern processors? There
are also tutorials and such to bring people up to speed.
6) Most parents use Windows at home and that is what is on their
computer so they can help little Johnny with it at home but they don't
know what this lin-ucks stuff is. Some of us have no choice in the
matter, for example, I have to use XP for a legacy Canon printer
(hence one computer is mainly Windows, the one my oldest son uses most
of the time).
There are some instances where WINDOWS reigns supreme, sure. But that
should not be a keystone stumbling block. BTW have you checked out
Turboprint for your printer? Try the demo (http://www.turboprint.info/)
Wow, so they have never installed or removed a chunk of software. Love
to meet their techies (smirk). This is where they need community
support. Mor eimportantly they need to follow the role modeling of
another successful school. Although my highschool was in Canada, we had
a sister high school in Australia and we did join projects together.
Correction the smart people wer eincluded in those projects, not us
average students). In Canada we have a program known as schoolnet
(http://www.schoolnet.ca/)... The American equivalent MIGHT be here
(http://www.schoolnet.com/). These networks should be where to gets
smallers schools to apprentice mentor schools.
7) School boards don't understand technology. In Stafford, VA, they
have rule 10 which prohibits any alteration, removal, or erasure of
computer programs, data, or software. The rule does not include the
word "unauthorized" nor does it address removing LEGAL software or
computer data YOU created (for example, little Susie in first grade
removing the picture she created to a floppy -- she could be
I first learne dat home on a C64, my schools always were apples, then
macs, then power macs, then PC's.... macs stayed around for graphics
There are some comments and resources. The batlle is not the issue, or
barriers to technology IMHO. the battle is to get the knowledge out
there and lend a hand. I don't think there are many linux users out
there that would disagree that getting linux into education would be
bad. Its the the how and what if that present a challenge.
AFIK, Schools used to get Apple machines (my H/S was one of the first
in the country as the then-president of Apple had a brother that
graduated there). Now they get whatever they can, often via grants or
state programs. Those programs try to get the "best" educational
software they can find, but from their perspective, it nearly always
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