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[K12OSN] Advocacy: barriers to adoption (was LTSP presentation to Ed tech leaders...)

On 10/11/06, Joe Guenther <jguenther chinooksedge ab ca> wrote:
I have been asked to do a 1hr presentation about LTSP to the Alberta
Technology Leaders for Education Conference.  www.alte.ca  I had done a
similar presentation last year regionally and thus was recommended and
now asked to do one for the all Alberta conference. So its neat to see
other tech leaders take notice.

I will be bringing a small "server," a couple of old PC's and an old
tray load iMac as a demonstration on how to use LTSP to "recycle" old
workstations.  In our school division there are hundreds of old iMacs
that are now too slow, too old of an OS to be very useful anymore. But
they continue to litter our computer labs.  They make GREAT ltsp
clients!  So for about $110/workstation you can have a modern up2date,
blazing fast computer lab again.  You thought the $100 laptop was only
for poor communities in India and Africa.  We can accomplish the same
value for your buck with LTSP.

I have already done 3 computer labs in my area of the school division.
I am working on joining 2 more schools with fibre and then they both get
their old iMac labs upgraded to LTSP from a single server.

Any presentation ideas & sucess stories & gotcha's are always welcome

Demo FL_TeacherTool and let them know that many others in Canada like myself are using K12LTSP successfully. Remember the number one benefit is not cost savings on initial systems purchase but on ease/cost of maintenance.
*************But be sure to explain FOSS carefully.**************

*steps on soapbox*
After listening to Steve Hargadon podcast interview of Maddog. k12opensource.com
I remembered my conversation with our districts IT admin.
I think the main issue holding back adoption is getting people to really understand and BELIEVE in FOSS.
The response I got back was that the "Open Source development model was not something the district could rely upon".

Have you ever tried explaining FOSS to someone who has never heard of it before?

After about TEN minutes of explaining they may understand the constructs/rules by which it operates but I would be very surprised if they understood the implications and consequences. I think part of the reason Cath and Bazzar was so revolutionary was that it was the first explanation of this seemingly counter intuitive phenomenon.  Problem is most people will not read it, I haven't even read every word of The C and B. Most people when they hear the word "Free" immediatley think "Nothing is free!" or as ESR puts it "It must be cheap/shoddy quality". The first question I usually get is "if it's free how do they make money?". Convincing people in positions of power (who are not FOSS savvy) that the development model is reliable and robust is difficult especially when they are not directly paying money for the software. I've heard comments like "what if the devs decide to stop work on the project? Then where are we left?" If you already have thought about this question (which I don't believe everyone in FOSS has) you can reply that the developers are usually the people who need the software the most so they have a vested interest in seeing continued development. Also since the devs are also (usually) users of the software there is good communication between users and devs. In the FOSS world this close relationship between users and devs produces great software as it's in a continual state of improvment directed by user requests/desires. So FOSS development DOES have direction: The best kind.
 In addition the potential to participate in FOSS should not be overlooked (as it usually is). Imagine if a school district says "we need this feature" so they hire a dev (or pay an existing dev in the project) to add it and in the process provide that feature to everyone else on the planet. Sometimes this opportunity gets a response of "Why should we pay for something others will benefit from?" But remind them it also means others improvments will become your benefits. In the regular business world this IDEA is not something which is not second nature as most businesses work on a "Dog eat dog, everyone for themselves attitude". This doesn't work in FOSS.

Bottom line. It's not easy to truly understand and believe in FOSS. It's taken me years to discover it's full potential. THIS is, in my opinion, the biggest barrier of adoption.
*steps off soapbox*

Joe Guenther
LANtech - Didsbury Schools
Chinook's Edge School Div. #73

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For more info see <http://www.k12os.org>

Robert Arkiletian
Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver, Canada
Fl_TeacherTool http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/Fl_TeacherTool/
C++ GUI tutorial http://www3.telus.net/public/robark/
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