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Re: [school-discuss] back on the list again - looking for ideas


Yes, Blender rocks.  I used Blender with the Gimp when I taught high school
computer animation several years ago.  It was very successful.  I had all
levels of students and there was something for everyone.  I taught them the
basics at the beginning of the course, and then at the end they had the
opportunity to concentrate on the areas that they most enjoyed.  Some students
focused on the 3D graphics, some animation, and I had three students who got
into gaming.  Since they could install Blender at home they made CDs of their
projects and worked on them at home as well.  We utilized online tutorials from
the Blender community.  Another cool thing was that several professionals from
the Blender site offer to critique student work.  Every month or so a local
artist judged classroom contests.  

At that time I used Mandrake 9.2 and had the computers setup to dual boot, so
windows was on there as well.  I never used windows however.  In my situation,
my husband was the director of purchasing for this large metroplex district,
and some of the IT guys were my friends, so I did whatever I wanted in my lab. 
The director of tech was freaked out by Linux, however, and made me promise to
not preach the gospel of linux to other teachers.  That sucked.

These two years as a music teacher, I used the bootable CDs and all of the tech
folks were very nice about that.  I didn't mess with their stuff, and was good
to maintain the lab and send in quality work orders (I had tested everything
first).  Also, I had Edubuntu set to dual boot on the computers in my

We'll see what happens in the new job.  It is a pretty big deal that the
principal already said OK.  Usually principals have a lot to say about these
things.  Also, during the interview they asked me about this software someone
was telling them they needed in the lab.  It was the kind of deal where the
teacher could access every student desktop from the teacher computer.  I asked
how much it cost ($6-8 thousand) and said I didn't need it.  I told them
everything I would be using was free.

Also, in my initial contact with the distict about the job I emailed the supt.
and said that my specialty was free and open source software and that I could
get hundreds of professional grade applications at no cost.  The hs principal
called me 15 minutes later.  That might mean they are interested in FOSS.

From what all of you have told me, I might see if I can dual boot to the ubuntu
studio, and then maybe use the Musix bootable as well.  Musix includes all of
the sound & midi stuff, plus Blender, the Gimp, and Cinelerra.

I need to go and chat with the IT folks soon, and get a feel for their deal.

I'll be teaching computer animation, web develpment, desktop publishing, and
multimedia.  All ideas are much appreciated.  

Thanks!  :)

Quoting Daniel Howard <dhhoward@xxxxxxxxxxx>:

> Hi Marilyn,
> Glad you're back!  This summer my 14 year old daughter and I are working 
> through the book "Introducing Character Animation with Blender" by Tony 
> Mullen.  Comes with a CD with example characters and walks you through 
> the whole process.  I'm sure Blender is included in some of the live CDs 
> out there for Linux, but the question for Blender, and for multimedia 
> stuff in general is speed of operation.  Since the principal is OK with 
> Linux, you could ask your administrator to allow you to install the 
> software on a separate partition so you could boot the PCs as either 
> Linux or Windows.  That would probably improve Blender and multimedia 
> apps performance considerably, and would not affect the Windows 
> operation of the PCs.
> Daniel
> marilyn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
> > Hi there everyone!
> > 
> > I'm back on the list again (Marilyn from Texas). I let my former domain,
> > linuxined.org, go last April and just signed up for schoolforge-discuss
> about a
> > week ago.  It has been fun to read your discussions about bringing
> technology
> > to
> > remote areas.  Wow.
> > 
> > This summer I got a new teaching job that will be closer to home (yay!). 
> I
> > will
> > be teaching high school tech apps (animation, desktop publishing,
> multimedia,
> > web development) in Mexia, TX.  I have been teaching elementary music for
> a
> > couple of years after trying to sell tech stuff in '04.  From '02 to '04 I
> was
> > teaching HS animation.  I don't know if you remember me, but I've been
> using
> > Linux in the classroom since '97.  Yeah . . . that chick!
> > 
> > So . . . once again I humbly come to the Linux gurus to get your ideas
> about my
> > idea.  You probably don't realize how much I have depended on your wisdom
> and
> > others on the net. (thank you)  :)
> > 
> > Roughly, I think I want to implement a system where I only use bootable
> media -
> > probably CDs - and use hard drives only for storage.  I might use the
> network
> > for storage as well and maybe that walmart 2 gig usb storage thingie
> jobber.
> > 
> > Why?
> > 
> > For the past two years I have been teaching music in an intermediate
> school
> > (5th
> > & 6th grades).  My school district was a windows shop.  Both years I took
> my
> > music classes to the campus computer lab once a week.  The first year I
> used
> > the windows stuff already there and did online activities using various
> > elementary music websites.  Also, I created my own web pages with links to
> > these sites, instructions, forms for quizzes and tests, etc.  Using my own
> > website worked pretty well, but depending on the other sites was a drag. 
> > Sometimes they were up, sometimes they were down, and sometimes our
> district
> > network was slow or down.  Overall it sucked.  During that first year,
> however,
> > I discovered Musix.
> > 
> > The second year I got permission from our systems administrator to change
> the
> > boot sequence on the computers in the lab to look at the CD before the HD. 
> I
> > burned 32 Musix CDs and was in business.  Musix is a live CD based on
> Knoppix. 
> > It boots up as a music studio, reading the sound card info well,
> automatically
> > setting up audio and midi.  We used Solfege for learning rhythm patterns,
> and
> > then the Hydrogen Drum Machine to compose our own rhythms.  I worked
> really
> > really well.  We didn't save work until the end of the twelve week session,
> but
> > then saved to a network folder.  In the classroom I played back the
> > compositions
> > and we voted for our favorites.  Also . . . our school district used a
> proxy
> > server and I didn't give the students those settings . . . so no one was on
> the
> > Internet.  It was great to not have to worry about that mischief!
> > 
> > I think I might have suggested this last fall to you guys, but after a
> full
> > year
> > of successful implementation, I really think there are some great
> advantages to
> > using a bootable OS.
> > 
> > #1  You don't have to install anything.
> > #2  You don't have to worry about the kids installing anything (actually
> true
> > by
> > just using Linux)
> > #3  You don't have to worry about the kids messing up the OS (windows was
> > frequently hosed on computers in the lab, but Musix always worked!)
> > #4  You don't have to worry about your network being slow
> > 
> > To really be successful in education, you need to leave mischief-making
> > software
> > off the bootable CDs . . . you know, network administrator type stuff. 
> Also,
> > the CDs should be setup to automatically look for all of your storage areas
> =
> > network folders, HD directories, USB storage, exterior writable CD drives,
> > whatever.  And, the CDs should have drivers and easily access cameras,
> drawing
> > pads, scanners, midi keyboards, etc.
> > 
> > This is how I envision it.  My kids come in for computer animation class. 
> They
> > pick up a CD/DVD that has all software and drivers related to that
> activity. 
> > Hmmm . . . actually in thinking about it . . . there could probably be a
> > that covers all of my classes . . . music compostition, animation, desktop
> > publishing, web development, video/audio editing.  Of course they can have
> > their own CD/DVDs to take home too.  These bootable DVDs have ALL of the
> > related OSS programs available for these areas.  And, you can create these
> DVDs
> > to have the lessons included and links to appropriate websites included
> and
> > maybe some websites already blocked?
> > 
> > I think there should be bootable CDs for science, math, writing - with
> > everything available on each subject.
> > 
> > Probably the reason I am most interested is that MIDI is such a pain to
> > configure on Linux for me.  It was great to use Musix and have it working.
> > Also, I don't know my new district will let me install anything I want yet.
> > The principal said he didn't care if I used Linux or not and he really
> liked
> > that it was free.  
> > 
> > OK . . . gotta go and send this quick.  Thoughts??
> > 
> > 
> > Marilyn
> > 
> -- 
> Daniel Howard
> President and CEO
> Georgia Open Source Education Foundation