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Re: [K12OSN] eSchool News Article



I caught Mike Huffman's talk at a conference last November. I was amazed
to hear a state official, particularly a DOE official, so fervently and
pragmatically behind open source.

Actually, while they did use Wintergreen whitebox systems for the pilot,
the details of the main rollout are still uncertain. Dell has come on
board as a partner and has been "very supportive" they say. The software
has also changed from Linspire to Novell, since Novell is also a partner
in the deal now.

No surprise, this plan has raised many concerns on the part of tech
coordinators across the state, from infrastructure (where do we get all
those outlets?), to support for all those new machines, to outright FUD
regarding OSS.

The newest Indiana Tech Coordinators mailing list doesn't have an online
archive yet that I know of, but I've included Mike Huffman's post to
that list below, if anyone is interested

Vern
======================================================================

All:

It is great to see so much discussion about 1:1 computing and the
issues surrounding it!  The concept of an affordable, sustainable,
replicable project that promises to deliver 1:1 computing to Indiana
HS students has people talking all over Indiana, and in plenty of
other places as well.  The concept of 1:1 computing has been
attempted before, and many of you have spoken of Michigan, Maine, New
Mexico and other states.  These states have attempted 1:1  using a
laptop model.  These programs have shown tremendous benefits for
schools, parents, and students.  Most of the programs, as of today,
are being curtailed due to budget considerations.  It is nice to
think of a $100 laptop (or even a $300 laptop), but the fact is that
there is not a suitable entry for consideration at this time.
(Michigan's program paid about $300 for laptop computers - but that
was an annual payment on a four-year lease.  The total procurement
cost for each unit was considerably more than the annual payment.)

Indiana's program design uses desktop computers instead of laptops.
The boxes currently used in the pilot program are basic systems that
have a 40 GB HD, 256 MB of RAM, CD-RW, on-board video, audio,  and
LAN, USB2.0,  diskette drive,  2.4 GHz processor (or better),
keyboard and optical mouse.  These are basic systems and carry a
price tag of about $275.  They come with a one-year warranty.
Pricing is based on QTY 1.  In all respects this is a
"commodity-priced" computer.  Future rollouts may include more RAM or
other slightly modified configurations.  The goal is the hit the
$250-300 (or lower) price range with functionality that addresses
current needs.

The overall architecture of a statewide deployment is also of prime
consideration.  The architecture  must address the software
update/patch management, content filtering requirements, virus
scanning needs, etc., that schools today must address.  Preliminary
program design requirements consider deployment in all Indiana HS
language arts classes as a first step.

Placing computers in a 1:1 environment in language arts classrooms
has several key benefits for Indiana schools: 1) Staged rollout will
allow schools to better handle issues of electrical, cabling, and
other infrastructure needs; 2)  professional development can be more
focused on subject-specific activities and teachers will be better
able to take advantage of sharing among themselves; and 3) phased
deployment will allow us to measure scalability, architectural, and
other design issues, and allow far more flexibility when changes are
required.  The benefits to students will come in terms of more
opportunities to write, research, and explore real-world skills they
will need as they graduate HS and move on to higher education.  Other
tangential benefits exist as well, such as the increased opportunity
for schools to participate in end-of-course assessments and other
activities that require a high density of computers.  While the price
is a driving factor in the initial procurement, curriculum is the
driving factor once the systems are in place in classrooms.

A couple of questions form HECC members centered on the issue of
public bids for desktop units.  At this time the state has not issued
a bid for these units.  Because of the low cost of each unit, schools
have been able to procure needed units under the bid cap.
However,the Indiana Educational Service Centers have included a
low-cost option on their statewide RFP for computers starting this
year, and it may be advisable in the future to do a general RFP for
these units.  One of the benefits of doing this may be that the price
can be driven even lower.  The desks that are used in many of the
pilot projects come with a lifetime warranty (from NovaSolutionsInc)
and include power and cable management options.  Desks can be ordered
with display trays for CRTs or mounts for LCD monitors.  These desks,
specially configured for Indiana classrooms,  are priced at $209. A
dual desk is also available that lowers the per unit cost even more.
The desktops allow a flat surface for regular classroom work and
contain the computer and monitor below the surface.  In addition to
allowing the teacher a clear view of the classroom, several studies
have shown that the desks have ergonomic benefits as well.

Indiana's 1:1 program is the first of its kind in the nation.  We are
working with major vendors to encourage their interest in this
effort, and as you all know, several have responded positively,
including Dell, Intel, and Novell.  We are in communication with
other suppliers as well, and that information will be made available
when  and if it becomes available.  We are also working with software
vendors to make more applications available in an open-systems
environment.

Your input into this program is important.  We want to include as
many perspectives as possible, both on the hardware side as well as
on the curriculum side -- keeping in mind that the goal is to equip
Indiana HS students with a computer in core subject areas for use
on-demand.  We understand that each situation is unique and will
require adjusting the way the program rolls out as we go along.
Funding for the initiative will come from the Technology Plan Grant
funding that is available, along with other federal funds and funds
from other sources.    As we explore partnerships with private sector
companies, we will push for help from them as well.

One of the things that we have learned from the pilot projects
underway is that tech directors are key to the success of the
project.  Luckily, we have some excellent  tech directors in Indiana
schools.  The project design takes into consideration the fact that
staffing is limited, and that local funding sources are strained -
both for materials and for staff.  Please be patient as we continue
to develop this program.  As stated earlier, we want your input.
This listserv is one good vehicle for that input.  Also, feel free to
call me to share your thoughts.  I will be happy to chat about
concerns, suggestions, and other thoughts about the program.  We all
understand that is not a cure-all for every problem in education.  As
someone stated very well, there is no substitute for a good teacher
and quality interaction with kids. We believe, however,  that
equipping teachers with modern tools will help them to maximize their
talent and capability to touch each and every student.

As 1:1 takes hold in Indiana high schools, schools maybe able to
consider relocating current computers to lower grade levels, thereby
making them more accessible to middle schools and elementary
students.

Several questions have been raised about the overall design of the
program.  More details will be made available soon.  Rest assured
that we are talking to local school personnel in this effort and are
also looking at issues related to total cost of  ownership.  The
overall design will contain elements that address security, update
architecture, cross-platform compatibility, and issues related to
usability. We are working on the criteria for school selection as we
begin this effort.  It will probably approximate the Technology Plan
Grant process used in prior years, but that is not yet certain.  In
the meantime, we are interested in hearing from teachers and others
who are excited about participating. As soon as we have more details,
they will be made available.

Once again, thanks for your input.  Well keep watching the list and
try to provide additional information as it is appropriate.

Mike Huffman Special Assistant for Technology Indiana Department of
Education 317-232-6672 mehinindiana comcast net



-- This time for sure! -Bullwinkle J. Moose ----------------------------- Vern Ceder, Director of Technology Canterbury School, 3210 Smith Road, Ft Wayne, IN 46804 vceder canterburyschool org; 260-436-0746; FAX: 260-436-5137


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