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Re: [school-discuss] Roadblocks . . .
Regarding the roadblocks to linux in schools -- and breaking this topic out
more generally to roadblocks to open source, I have these personal histories
I teach in a Technology in Education program (Master's degree in education)
and oversee the running of some courses -- mnaging content and who teaches.
We have a weekend cohort model -- we travel across the US and engage
practicing teachers for a 21 hour weekend, twice each course. We usually
have a k-12 setting which we contract for our site, so our courses run *in
schools* with all the trappings. Students usually work at home on midterm
and final projects -- each course spans 2 months. I personally teach about
10 courses of 20 students a year.
see map of where we teach:
In my Computer Structures course, which i also oversee, we usually introduce
students to knoppix, and when possible let them play with it. Some more
technically advanced students have chosen to install linux on their PC for a
midterm project, sometimes in a dual-boot with windows, and I've generally
steered them to Suse and they come out with positive results and feelings.
Oo is also mentioned when I teach this class. There are some unexpected
results. Once, the network admin at one of our sites in S. Carolina nearly
flipped when I showed him knoppix and easily obtained the web, bypassing his
proxy. He has definitely looked into it more, but I think mostly to better
secure his network, so I'm not sure we gained positive ground there.
In our Emerging Technologies course (which I will temporarily oversee this
year and will just begin teaching) students have typically installed RH 8.0
on old machines (I introduced the course mentor to RH 8 about two years ago
and she adopted it). As I start teaching the course I'm going to be dropping
the section where students blog (many hate blogging/bloggers) and I'm
introducing them to twiki (I've just set up my twiki web on a RH 8 machine
out of my home). Oo is also mentioned.
In my HTML course I have been using Mozilla composer to teach students how to
create web sites and I'm now migrating to nvu for size, simplicity, ease of
learning and reliability (several mozilla bugs on Win were fixed). I also
introduce folks to the gimp. I don't oversee this course but I keep talking
about these two tools so we can adopt them more systemically, recently doing
a show and tell on nvu.
In my Technology in Context course (learning to do research on technology in
education) I introduce students to Audacity for processing audio interview
data and mention Oo, of course.
System wise I'm up against the same roadblocks that k-12 staff are up against:
a couple - three people who are in key administrative positions who have
little experience with OSS and are unwilling to gain any. A key VP who wigs
out at the notion of college faculty having admin priviliedges on a server,
even one we make ourselves (which is why my server and that of another
faculty member are being run out of our homes). But its also more than just
having control freaks in the way -- there are also ideologial barriers. We
are forced to use Blackboard for online course support because senior folks
just don't understand learning through doing and making things constructively
and collaboratively, so they stick us with a system of telling and testing
individuals. Is my frustration sticking out?
Sometimes it seems as if one has to wait for someone to die or retire. The
old guard must die out, to paraphase Thomas Kuhn. I'm working on proving