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Re: [seul-edu] High School Educational Programs

Christopher Hill wrote:

> In addition there are reference titles that are used extensively by students
> for research - Microsoft Encarta comes to mind. Individual subjects may also
> have special reference products which allow teachers to tell students to
> research a topic from a particular title. And there are some pieces of
> software such as Crocodile Clips that allow prototyping for electronic
> circuits and suchlike which are invaluable for technology subjects.

I think we need to approach the makers of as many of the reference titles as we
can (Microsoft is unlikely to be receptive, but Britannica and Grolier might be)
and ask if we can develop open source interfaces to their material.  I can't see
why they wouldn't be agreeable to passing along their data formats and APIs, as
this would only increase the usability of their titles.

As for circuit design tools, for a first cut go to
<http://sal.kachinatech.com/Z/1/> and poke around.  There are a bunch of them.
And of course I have to mention gEDA <http://geda.seul.org> and FreeHDL
<http://freehdl.seul.org> , which are hosted on SEUL.

> I feel that for our school anything except Microsoft
> Office is almost unthinkable, simply because of the penetration of this
> suite into the business world - I know the main argument against any
> migration would be that 'it's not what they'll need to know in the
> workplace', which is, after all, what it's all about.

Well, that's a philosophical point that we each have to deal with.  I personally
think that teaching them only how one particular piece of software works rather
than how the particular category (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.) works is
doing them a disservice.  Having an understanding of what's going on makes it
fairly easy for them to adapt to similar programs, while only knowing which keys
to press to do a certain task doesn't.

> For me right now I'd love to just be able to use WINE to run Office
> directly. Although it would almost certainly stifle development of the pure
> Linux office apps, at the moment as far as I can tell there is nothing
> approaching Office.

Actually, Star Office and Open Office seem to be approaching MS Office quite
nicely.  In some areas (as I understand it) they're surpassing MS Office.

> > 6) manage and track what students do <--(porn sites, viruses, a.k.a. stuff
> > they shouldn't be looking at or doing)
> Absolutely. Fortunately you can set this sort of stuff up fairly easily,
> although I have yet to see a Linux virus scanner...? Maybe I've just been
> looking in the wrong places.

Go to
That search found 19 projects.

> 1) Compatibility with current Windows reference apps - teachers like the
> fact that they can get a reference title and it will probably work on the
> school system. Take that away and those teachers that are technically
> 'switched on' will be quite unhappy

This will be a problem unless most of those titles use fairly standard data
formats.  With any luck, most of the publishers are using web interfaces for the
data and we'll be able to address a bunch of them with one interface program.
If not,  I don't know of any way to deal with this other than on a case by case

> 2) Easy to migrate *from* Windows - Assuming that schools migrate from the
> Windows environment, it's got to be pretty similar at least to start off
> with - if you're trying to teach kids how to use computers you don't want
> the interface changing half way through the course!

Anyone doing a major hardware or software upgrade during a semester should be
shot, in my opinion.  I say this as someone who's responsible for keeping a
university data network functional.  We _never_ make such changes during class
periods; only during breaks.

Doug Loss                 All I want is a warm bed
Data Network Coordinator  and a kind word and
Bloomsburg University     unlimited power.
dloss@bloomu.edu                Ashleigh Brilliant