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Re: [school-discuss] convincing school ITs to try Linux

I'm with Daniel on this one. The key to getting adoption is NOT the IT
route but the educational technology support staff (i.e. the folks who
train the teachers on the computer use and tools for curriculum).

Most IT departments are loathe to change anything. It really does seem
to be "the devil we know" mentality coupled with  "nobody ever got fired
for buying Microsoft".

Over then next 5-10 years, that last excuse will be changing :)

Set up a demo machine running GNU/Linux with educational software on it
(some people love edubuntu, others love K12LTSP - both can be installed
as a standalone machine). Then sit down and learn how to use all of the
edu apps. Then get just one person from the EdTech world to sit with you
and "play".

Then get the funding together 'cause they almost always start looking a
"how do we get _this_ installed to replace all that broken stuff". :}

After about a year or two, the IT staff starts coming around as they
realize that they can stop playing patch-Tuesday 5 days a week and can
start creating new solutions. Then IT staff gets all happy about being
in a creative role again and then things can really take off as schools
and individual teachers can get things done specifically to suit their
needs without buying more software. Many things can be done with a bit
of scripting and some web applications.

And, yes, I was the architect for the APS pilot. I have a line of
servers that can support around 100 thin clients each (with a new
paradigm in testing that can support multiple hundreds with a cluster).
This is the "Enterprise Model" as opposed to the Classroom Server Model
that is the stock solution from K12LTSP. If a school wants some
professional help with this, contact me off list. 

One other note: It is easy to get a lab set up with a decent head-end
server with clients running what ever tools are needed. But the most
effective use of technology is when it is in the classroom and used
daily. Brandon showed that and then so did the other 6 schools in the
pilot (where they adopted the daily use practice). Test scores went up
relative to the previous year AND relative to similar schools that did
not participate in the pilot.

Granted, test scores are not an infallible benchmark but they are better
than nothing.

On Sun, 2007-07-15 at 12:59 -0400, Daniel Howard wrote:
> Chris Gregan wrote:
> > One question: How did you manage to get the IT staff to allow you to
> > start using Linux and open source? I guess this goes for anyone in the
> > group. I have extreme difficulty getting IT admins to agree to any open
> > source usage. As a consultant I talk to Principals and Teachers who all
> > want to use it, but the effort stalls when it comes to the IT admin. Any
> > advice would be greatly appreciated.
> Great links Chris, I'm going to try UbuntuStudio on my wife's new Ubuntu 
> laptop from Dell.
> After we made many presentations to the IT department of APS, showed 
> them by example how well it worked, ultimately it was the educational 
> folk who convinced the IT leadership to try a pilot in other schools 
> after they saw how much it improved test scores, and it also helped that 
> we had several proponents in the IT department, even if not the top 
> leadership.  Since APS currently plans to do 20-30 new schools this 
> coming year, best thing might be to get your IT folks in touch with the 
> leader of the APS pilot effort.  If you'd like her contact info I'll get 
> it to you off list, I know she's been approached by several other school 
> districts.  What APS did really did blaze new territory in the US, which 
> is going to an enterprise scale of K12LTSP (thanks to the work of Jim 
> Kinney), and the cost model is even cheaper due to being able to hang 
> over 100 clients off a single one of Jim's servers.  Jim subscribes to 
> this list as well, he might be able to provide your IT folk with the 
> even lower cost model that can be achieved with the enterprise version.
> And as always, I'm happy to talk to anyone willing to listen about how 
> beneficial it was to APS both in IT terms as well as academic 
> performance.  Even the inner city schools that were having trouble with 
> academic performance showed significant improvement after getting the 
> Linux enterprise K12LTSP system.  But I do think you have to get outside 
> the IT department to convince them.  If you can get to the 
> superintendent, try that.
> Best,
> Daniel
> -- 
> Daniel Howard
> President and CEO
> Georgia Open Source Education Foundation
James P. Kinney III          
CEO & Director of Engineering 
Local Net Solutions,LLC        

GPG ID: 829C6CA7 James P. Kinney III (M.S. Physics)
Fingerprint = 3C9E 6366 54FC A3FE BA4D 0659 6190 ADC3 829C 6CA7

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