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Re: [K12OSN] Teaching Programming Languages

Based on my observation of the kids at NCS (5-8), they do not have any issues with the technology. In fact it is cool because it is different. Also, since we use rdesktop to access our Windows terminal servers, they quickly discover the benefit of having the capability to log onto a system when they need those resources, and the use of multiple local windows for organizing their work.  After the first year, they quickly come to expect that when they need access to the system it will be there because "it just works" from anywhere in the school.  Word processing isn't really a problem either, for the most part.  They learn about the help button and how to use it to troubleshoot questions if the answer isn't obvious.  And, we give them copies of any of the Opensource programs we are using to take home with them.

Now, the teachers are a different story since they do have biases based on years of working in one particular mode or another.  Some of this is due to the pressure to get the job done, but there are also those who are just afraid of something different.  Human nature to make the "change=bad" connection since for survival this is often the case.  Getting complete buy-in from the administration is essential though since if they do have a problem, they can't then do an end run.  In my case, I gave the school director a copy of OpenOffice.org to use as his only word processor for the summer, and installed it on all of his home systems as well, along with Firefox as the web browser.  After 2 months of use, he bought into the philosophy and has actively backed the use of OpenSource since.  He has been very very supportive of this experiment though we do have to address some compatibility issues because Delaware govm't is very much MS-centric.

Dave Hopkins

Is anybody having any success getting students involved and interested in technology past the basic M$ office classes (other than what we have already discussed)?

The reason I am asking all this is so that I can gather some good examples of how people are making students excited about tech using free software (stuff that windows can't do is always good) so that they will have an easier time with the onset of my impending GNU/Linux takeover.

Joe Korzeniewski
Technology Director
Mason County Eastern Schools

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