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Re: [school-discuss] M$ Elevate America

Hi Joan, Bryant
Thanks for your comments.

Thinking in terms of outcomes & trying to not rant (as is my tendency...):



-Boiler-plate servers, workstation, & USB flash drive images (portable freeware...). Would include related manuals, curricula & best practices for users & admins (even if implemented by local service vendors).

-Servers/services: On this part I recommend everyone take a continued look at the Karoshi Linux distro. It enables power users to run a school network, intranet & edu portal using Linux, includes LDAP/SAMBA network domain, LTSP, Moodle portal & many other intranet & LAN services that an independent school could want. I used it w/ a SOHO router, 60 workstations on-campus, worked great (in Texas...).

-"Free labs" hosted by interested organizations.


-A fairly complete free, shareware, FL/OSS & abandonware repository, links to reasonably priced commercial to fill in the gaps. Example: The Flash animator Swish, which doesn't cost $600 like MM Flash & is still excellent. The old abandonware Lifeswif would work but is rather bare bones, lacks a working manual...


-K-12 curricula for digital media, including "train the trainer" materials. Enlist user groups to write curricula, set curricula templates, rubrics, scope & sequence, & standards.

-Best practices for teaching digital media (hardware, classroom setups).

[The scope of Windows apps is surprising. I have a repository of dozens of free & FL/OSS *Windows* programs (dating back a few years now), some were science, maths, unusual finds. During my year of teaching digital media I used quite a few of them, even found already-existing curricula from around the world for FL/OSS tools like GeoGebra. I found that almost all of the apps were either already portable (runs on USB stick) or could be made to run portably (java apps, TuxPaint, etc...).]


On the foundation/grant side, the emphases would be on grassroots education, digital media education, workforce dev, resource ubiquity & ethical computing, increased public-driven digital media.

Is it feasible for enough of us to give the world a wake up call, either start a nonprofit or coop w/ one already existing, acquire physical host sites (demo labs) & apply for grants?


Seems that the open source world sees this as a side issue or narrow interest (which it isn't). However it's too much to ask of one person, too much to risk & not enough clout from a single advocate.

I threw a great deal of time into it at two different schools & I have to admit it was a very steep curve & couldn't enlist a serious successor or partner in each case.

It's only my impression but I still feel that open source in education is still stuck in the "idea" phase with a handful of early pioneers. It may require some serious sponsors to lend their weight to the effort to get it to catch on. Just as Linus Torvalds enlisted help from other people & smartly turned it into a movement, maybe a similar clever co-op mindset would create the critical mass necessary?

To this day my kids' current schools lack OOo on their system desktops at school. I suspect that most of this probably stems from administrative confusion about fiduciary & IP liabilities, but what a world it would be were some notable sponsors to help push FL/OSS in education (i.e. Oracle w/ OpenOffice )?


From: Joan Davis <joand@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: schoolforge-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Sat, January 23, 2010 11:02:34 AM
Subject: Re: [school-discuss] M$ Elevate America

Thanks for your email, Lee. 

A friend and I have been brainstorming how to start a small company or organization to do some of what you described, particularly provide support, training, documentation, and customized  software for P-16 educational institutions. Our personal interests are more related to open source integration in teaching and learning activities than to technology infrastructure and school administration. During our brainstorming, we came to a similar conclusion as you that the revolution will have to come from small public schools and districts, private schools, and charter schools. We haven't made much progress because she has a full-time job, I'm in my last year of graduate school, and neither of us has the start-up funds to get things moving.  

However, I (and probably my friend) am willing to contribute to a group effort. I think having a funded organization--similar to the Apache Software Foundation perhaps--will be important for sustaining the effort.  I recall reading that some U.S. government agencies has funded projects related to open source projects. The Humanitarian FOSS project (http://hfoss.org/), funded by  the National Science Foundation, is one example. 


On Jan 23, 2010, at 6:34 AM, lee rodgers wrote:

This is the kind of discussion that I've been looking for, the reason I joined this mailing list years back. 

For K-12 schools what is missing is a stable, working clearing house & interest from the FL/OSS community. It would also require some real funding, working disk images, how-to's & hands-on laboratories, & a plan to get it into the hands of school users & admins. 

From what I see the education profession is talking out of their butts about digital media. The school districts IT dept's have it sweet. The districts go for weird frills like smart boards & expensive drawing tablets instead of understanding ubiquity. If you pin them down on using commercial software & the problem of homework & bootleg software, their eyes glaze over. 

As a teacher at a small school I ran into a real need that - as far as I know - has not yet been met. I was able to roll up my sleeves & improvise, building a digital media lab with a mix of Linux & Windows. It was a rough ride in spots but it was doable, I did it for a charter school. I saved easily a few thousand dollars in server, workstation & software licenses on 70 workstations & 3 servers. I would restart the project again - I also did a lot of development at a private school a couple of years back - but instead it looks like I'm going back to SQL database administration for now. If I could find interest locally or funding I'd be back in it.

From what I can see the revolution will have to come from small schools, from below, the small districts, indep. private & charter schools. If someone can come up with a plan, endorsements & some funding, I'm interested in working on the effort again. 


From: Bryant Patten <opensource@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: schoolforge-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Fri, January 22, 2010 5:06:20 PM
Subject: Re: [school-discuss] M$ Elevate America

On Jan 22, 2010, at 4:02 PM, Tim Dressel wrote:

> Being one that has both feet intermingling with FLOSS and the
> commercial side, I think you are right, it is important that the FLOSS
> community step up to the plate to put together a comprehensive
> training package, course list, and promotional materials.

In the K-12 space, there are several of us scattered around the U.S. that are trying to bring the INGOTs program ( www.theingots.org ) to the U.S.  This would cover the student certification.

Does anyone know the current state of the Red Hat Academy initiative?

After the Open Minds conference, Vern Ceder and I talk with Jim Lacey, the head of the Linux Professional Institute, about some kind of teacher certification for FOSS experience.  He seemed open to exploring the idea and maybe now is the time to pursue it.

> I would enjoy being part of a group that could create a package
> similar to the Elevate America portal

Count me in.



Bryant Patten
Executive Director
The National Center for Open Source and Education