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Re: [school-discuss] Call for open-source interested/active

Hi David,
I contacted you a while ago regarding an open source study I am doing. You were very generous to give me the information below. Thanks! It will be very useful.

I think I sent you an online form for this study. Did you receive it? If so, are you willing to participate in this more directed questioning? The form is found here:

If so, please let me know, or go ahead and fill out the form. I imagine you can use some of the information you used before.

I would love to hear more from you ... I notice your name all over the open source arena, so I would really love your input.


David Bucknell wrote:

Dear Alec,

Me, too. We are in the third year of a move from all-M.S. computers in a lab
offices only to all-Linux distributed to classrooms. Small school: 140 students

Three year plan concocted. We're in third year now.
Year 1: a)Distributed computers, installed Linux gateway/file server. Gateway/file
server with Dansguardian, Squid, and Samba. Spaghetti network with hubs (not
switches) over basic cables. Adopted Les Richardson's Open Admin soon after he
named it. Had faculty discussions about why we would use open source. Gained
acceptance, but not formal agreement. Got director to agree to list Schoolforge
on Web site and join the group.

b) All proprietary software on teachers and students' machines deleted and
replaced with Open Source equivalents: Open Office, The GIMP, GThumb Image
Viewer, Mozilla, and a few important bridge tools such as winSCP. Goal: to be
legal. Not enough training last year, but steady progress none-the-less.

c)Began concurrent push re the curriculum to bring pedagogy up-to-date mainly
using Webquests as the model as they have all the "best practices" included.

d) Pushed paperless work.

C and D have been most difficult and contentious.

Year 2: Linux (LTSP -- mainly Red Hat) on the Desktop. NFS from new big and
server. Users immediately found /home/username easier than NT-style networking.
Much "friendlier." One success.

Most contentious issues were with new teachers who were good at Windows and
resented that we were being "different." They missed things such as "Word Art"
in M.S. Word (which I've since discovered can be sort of replaced by Open
and The GIMP). The older teachers were more philosophical and less dogmatic
about which OS to use, partially because they had less computing experience and
partially because they know change is a constant in schools. The older ones
since gained a sense of pride in how far they've come as computer users.

Year 3: Required Teacher Training once per week for first time. Parent meetings
with each level of school re "technology" at beginning of this year.

Director pushed for a lab. Heated argument with me to keep at least some (one?
computer in each classroom. We compromized on one. Debate not over ;-).

Composer is our main tool. We have the secretary format letters home for the
whole school using Open Office. Turns out that "saving as" is the most
thing we do according to some teachers. Despite the fact that most of the
is forging (schoolforging?) ahead, some have (almost secretly) held onto doubts
and have (quietly) labled our technology path as something like extreme. I'm
guessing their exact words.

Our school is a kind of "second chance" school for those who can't make it in an
international school with big classes (they have 20-25 students ususally). We
have a maximum of ten and usually 5-8 per class. Teachers are claiming that
WebQuests do not fit our students. I think the real issue is reading level, not
whether lessons make use of the computer. After all, we have all seen first-hand
that students who have reading and writing difficulties find the computer takes
the pressure off. Research has mainly supported this (if we can stay away from
drill and kill).

That's a start. Hope it helps.

Best wishes,

 Quoting Michael Dean

Hi Alec, best of luck. While I am an ex college teacher I am working with a school who has projected a 3 year timeline for full adaption of Linux/open source. So from a parent's perspective I have some info that you might find helpful. Also, you need to connect with the open source folks at MIT.edu! They are prolific in the areas you mentioned. michaelldean@sbcglobal.net

Les Richardson wrote:

Hi Alec,

I will share if you'd like.

Les Richardson
Open Admin for Schools

On Wed, 3 Nov 2004, Alec Couros wrote:

Hi everyone,

I am about to embark on my dissertation research data-collection. For this, I am looking for K-12 educators who are involved in the use, development of and/or advocacy of free and open-source software. If you fit this description, and would be interested in sharing your experiences, please contact me. If you don't seem to fit this description, do you know anyone who does? Please let me know, or feel free to pass on this message to others. I could really use everyone's help on this. Please please. :-)

Participation will be done electronically, via email and online discussion boards. Possibly other methods depending on the group that is interested. There is not a lot of commitment (a few hours I am thinking), but I would certainly love to hear of your experiences.

I am also particularly interested in activities that follow closely to the open source movement such as open-publishing (e.g., blogging) and open-content (e.g., learning object repositories). Collectively, I am just referring to this as the open movement, and hoping to find participants who are involved in these areas in the K-12 system.

*Purpose:* The purpose of this study is to gain insight into the adoption practices of technological innovation by teachers, and in doing so, develop theory which relates to the activities and beliefs of participants in relation to adoption activities. Emphasis will be placed on 'open' forms of collaborative practice.

*Some of my guiding questions include:*
1) What are the characteristics of the open (source) movement that encourage and motivate members to participate in open (source)


2) Does participation in open (source) communities encourage and/or support the development and adoption of (technological) innovation by teachers? If so, in what ways?
3) What perceived value is gained through the membership and participation in open (source) communities?
4) What educational activities and experiences result from a participant?s membership in an open (source) community?
5) Are there common values and beliefs held by members of open source communities, and if so, what are they?

Please feel free to circulate, trackback, comment, pass on, etc. Would love to hear from you!

Alec Couros
IT Coordinator - University of Regina