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[K12OSN] Planning for NECC - Seattle

OK, it's time to start planning for this event. 

WARNING: Motivation fodder is at the top of the message. You'll have to
go to the END to see what we're REALLY up to. ;-^)

Why is it important for us to work so hard to help schools using open
source software? It's the right thing to do for our kids and the
communities we serve.

Laura is a senior. She's working hard on the exhibition project she'll
give at the end of the year. She needed an office suite at home but
didn't have the money for one.  This fall she came to school to find new
computers running Linux and OpenOffice. Her eyes lit up when I told her
it was free software and that we expected it to be more reliable for
students and staff. "You mean I could install this on my computer at
home?"  She came back later in the day for the CD-Rom I made for her
with OpenOffice on it and had it installed that night. Her focus is not
on software at all. She is a determined learner though. She is writing
papers and preparing a presentation that will culminate a year of
research. For her, efforts of the open source community helped bridge a
technology equity gap to enable her as a learner.

My graphics students are using the GIMP at school. From their homes they
downloaded the Windows version of the GIMP from my homework web page and
started working with it. Everyday they would show up with work that went
way beyond the simple assignments I was giving. 

Both of these are examples of free software meeting the needs of
students. Kids today want to learn and create but the high cost of
proprietary software acts as a barrier. The open source development
paradigm is producing better software and the fact that it is free means
that everyone has access to it. Giving ALL children access to technology
that will help them learn, create and communicate is what we're all

It's only right then that we should have open source educators present
at NECC where 10,000+ teachers from all over the country come to learn
about technology in schools.

This year we have a handful of educators who submitted proposals and
were invited to present. It will cost about $1000 each for them to fly
to Seattle in June and stay for the four days of the conference. I want
to make sure their efforts are rewarded and that they all get there.

K12LTSP has about $1000 in funds from LinuxFund.org and gifts through
affero.org. We need about $4000 this year for 4 presenters. (unless
there are other OS presenters that I don't know about yet...)

What I'd like to do is have some folks join us in offering matching
funds to reach that goal. All donations to K12TLSP, either directly to
our school or through affero.org (see link below...) are tax deductible
as we're a public school. 

Once we have enough I'd like to announce awards to educators. It would
be great to have a high profile partner/s help with this. Recognition
and appreciation go such a long ways. We don't do that enough. This
would be a good time to start!

I want Red Hat at NECC with a teaching booth. I want teachers to
actually sit down and see how cool Linux is. We can offer volunteer help
to man the booth but I think it's time for the big guys to step up to
the plate. Note that K12LTSP expects to have a large email garden with
our nice thin-clients and ultra-fast servers. I've offered up to 50
clients. http://hs.riverdale.k12.or.us/tour/labphoto1.jpg These are nice
machines that will make schools ask, "This software is really free?
Where can I get these?"

I have a vision of a 10 station lab with a projector and screen on the
exhibit floor running mini-classes all week. We could do it with 10
laptops or I'll provide all the hardware myself if I have to but we need
to be there.

We've come a long way in just a few years. I am VERY encouraged by what
I see happening in schools all around the world. NECC offers us a chance
to share the good news about free software. It IS worth doing so let's
do it well.

;-) Paul
Paul Nelson .............................. pnelson riverdale k12 or us
Riverdale High School .................. http://hs.riverdale.k12.or.us
9727 SW Terwilliger Blvd, .......................... Portland,OR 97219

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