[K12OSN] Making K12LTSP "school friendly"

R. Scott Belford scott at hosef.org
Wed Feb 9 22:10:17 UTC 2005

richard ingalls wrote:
> Another example, we are looking into a grant for
> Reading First to help get students reading at grade
> level by grade three.  There are several curriculums
> that don't involve computers in any form at all, which
> if fine by me.  BUT we also want some SUPPLEMENTAL,
> tech-based options.  Here is where things like Reader
> Rabbit and other programs come into play.

Supplemental is the critical word.  We try to associate that with the 
purpose of the computers as much as possible.  That said, with respect 
to your big question of what to do, I observe a shopper looking for a 
product, with money to spend.

> Until we can make things like this work on LTSP, there
> will be a big uphill battle into the American
> Education System (at least at the Elementary level).

The killer apps always slow the migration process.  We need market demand.

> In Missouri, we have a program called eMINTS which has
> just gone nation-wide.  Mizzou University and the
> State Dept. had partnered for several years, putting
> computer labs into classrooms, training the teachers
> on the technology AND inquiry-based learning and
> letting them collaborate.  The results?  Just as we
> would expect, test scores are higher, student
> achievement is higher, teacher satisfaction is higher,
> even attendance is higher.

It appears to be the whole package: computers, curricula, and training. 
  A solution awaiting the buyer.  Oh, and it uses that term that I am 
trying to become more familiar with, "inquiry-based learning".  Sounds 
like rtfm to me.

> The problem?  This model is based on the stand-alone
> PC running Windows XP, MS Office,
> Kidspiration/Inspiration... etc.  Very specific
> software (all MS-based).  Very specific training to
> the teachers (all MS-based).  Not even
> MS-Terminal-Server stuff!

The solution?  To mirror the model with OSS tools.

Last year I observed the sheer joy at the Boys and Girls Club when a 
glossy folder arrived with descriptions of computer literacy curricula. 
  There were tracks for all the office apps, graphical apps, and 
computer basics.  It just so happened that they were all ms based.  The 
program cost $BUCKS$.

It did not matter that I was already doing a lot of this as part of a 
self-sustaining mentoring project that is turning kids into instructors. 
  It did not matter that half of the computers they planned on running 
this program on were in fact Linux.  The OS is beyond ubiquitous for 
them.  The allure of an easy, out-of-the box, paint-by-numbers program 
is simply too strong to overcome with goodwill alone.

Here 'we' continue to lose.  Oh, the funding never materialized for that 
program.  Our organic program is growing.

> So you can imagine my frustratio n.  I KNOW we can
> make the same things happen in our classrooms in
> Open-Source, but it AIN'T EASY!!!!!  I'm a teacher,
> not really a techie (but it IS my job description).  I
> WANT the technology to do all that it promises.  I
> DON'T want to be tied to MS or any other proprietary
> format.  BUT, my tech dreams are coming true in other
> schools in my state and they've got the money and
> they've got Microsoft stuff and they've got the
> training on that stuff and the software they use runs
> on it ONLY.
> Whaddya say to that?  What can we do?

As an educator, you can become a catalyst who precipitates the same 
federal, state, and university support this program receives.  Weed and 
Seed.  Every State has a University needing to conduct community 
outreach as well as basic research.  I continue to recruit more 
professors at UH to take interest in the research potential and economic 
opportunities in OSS.

 From benchmarking the performance of students before and while using 
K12LTSP labs to harnessing the braintrust of programming students to 
create Reader Rabbit alternatives, Grant-Worthy research opportunities 
exist.  That next OSS lab you install is a lab in more ways than one.

Your local businesses need proof that OSS is a usable and viable 
alternative with a supportable infrastructure.  This evidence exists in 
every one of our labs.  Who is documenting and touting this, and to what 

Rob Owens' comments are right on.  Sourceforge, here we come.

"Maybe the answer is to develop GPL'd software to replace Reader Rabbit 
and all the other hot titles that I keep hearing about.  I see a lot of 
people on this list asking for Linux replacement to these programs. 
Maybe some of those same people have programming skills and/or know 
someone who does.  And if there are no programming skills in that group 
of people, maybe you all should consider setting up a fund and paying an 
experienced developer to write the software for you."


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