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Re: [school-discuss] The real roadblocks to Linux in education: ZDNet Australia: News: Software
tom poe wrote:
> Hello: If we assume the author's correct in his conclusion that no
> changes will happen, until there is movement from the top down, and if
> this does not occur the option left is to ramp up a mainstream media
> campaign, I'd like to offer another option to consider:
> UNESCO has published a guide to community multimedia centres:
> This tells us that we have the interest of international organizations
> that would be a receptive audience for a program that benefits
> children. What would such a program look like?
While I would not go so far as calling them multimedia centers, we have
donated a lot of computer labs to schools and non-profits here in
Hawaii. We are a volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) that collects and recycles
computers that we in turn donate, with training, in order to build a
sustainable culture of self-reliance. We are HOSEF, and our strategy
for transforming Hawaii's education system has been to work from the
bottom up. After all, the proof is in the pudding.
So far so good. Our Governor, our Legislature, our City Council, and
the mainstream media have recognized our work. The Advanced Technology
Research Branch, the R&D branch of our Department of Education, has a
Linux thin-client computer lab that we donated to them. HOSEF has
donated and helps in some ways to support computer labs in the following
Liholiho Elementary, Kuhio Elementary, Campbell High School, Enchanted
Lake Elementary, Kaneohe Elementary, Kailua Intermediate, Wainae
Intermediate, St. John's Elementary, Kailua Redemption Academy, Boys and
Girls Club Ewa Beach and BGCH Wainae, Hawaii Agriculture Research
Commission, and more.
The thinking is this: rather than asking for a wholesale policy change,
let us instead demonstrate the viability of this solution so that
metrics and proof can accompany our advocacy. There is nothing more
persuasive than evidence underscored with passion. When we demonstrate
at DOE conferences how a server can be installed in 20 minutes that can
provide a suite of curricula enhancing, NCLB-beating apps *and* that the
hardware to access these goodies can be as slow as a P166, wheels churn.
The key to the long-term success of FOSS can be found in our schools.
> One possibility is to gather tens of thousands of donated computers, and
> load them with Open Source multimedia software, and distribute the
> computers to schools throughout the country, to be used by children,
> guided by training and support from thousands of volunteers familiar
> with the specific applications housed on the computers. A sound
> business plan could be drawn up, and presented to UNESCO for
This has been HOSEF's strategy for diffusing FOSS technologies here in
Hawaii for the last three years. Projects like the K12LTSP
build on the LTSP technology which enables previously discarded
equipment to run as fast as a brand new machine in a terminal-server
client. This software plus the thousands of computers our government
and businesses discard create countless learning opportunities both for
the recipients and the donors.
FreeGeek does this, as does the Alameda County Computer Resource Center,
and they both rock bells
> The key factor here, is, in my opinion, that such a program is
> initiated/supported by UNESCO, rather than individuals. Something to
> think about? Maybe? In the meantime, if there is any interest in
> pursuing such a project, our organization would like to help in any way
> we can.
I do agree that the UNESCO should support programs like this and
initiate them where they do not exist. There are many wheels turning
quite effectively right now, and it would be ashame to try and re-create
any of them. I can personally vouch for having exhausted nearly all
savings this past year making certain that the reach and success of
HOSEF was indicative of something far more powerful than a few individuals.
I am not a programmer, but I have a debt to pay the FOSS community for
all that I have received for free the last decade. This has been my
way. There are volunteers all over the globe who are interested in
learning about FOSS, supporting FOSS, and are willing to volunteer time
to build sustainable capacity in their community. We endeavor to
attract them and I think that a global program would be very successful.
> Tom Poe
> Open Studios
> Reno, NV, USA
a vignette, if you will, from a behavioral specialist at a school we
have been helping with a program called Computer Guts. Graduates earn a
computer and the skills to support it. It's verbose, but worth the read. I'm
an MBA, he's and educator. This program could only run with recycled
Imagine a Wai`anae Intermediate classroom, classified as “most
restrictive”. Chances are, you will form visions of students participating
in (or more likely, avoiding) instruction being presented by a teacher
attempting to engage disparate abilities and motivational levels - assisted
by educational assistants, paraprofessional tutors and other augmented
staff. One student may be sitting quietly, but the blank expression on his
face hides the necessary clue whether he is interested in the subject.
Another may be too focused on the turmoil in his family life to really
“get” what’s going on in class and his resultant inappropriate behaviors
and verbalizations provide him with the diversions needed to avoid tackling
a difficult task. Yet another student battles loneliness, recent family
death(s), and indescribable feelings of “what’s the use”……
Then, contrast that with a class where these same students are totally
engaged: taking direction and applying that knowledge to produce a
tangible, valuable product, being respectful to the teacher and staff and
totally focused on the task at hand.
I had the opportunity to see the metamorphosis from the first example to
the second on Tuesday, April 26th, and I doubt I would have believed it had
I not seen, heard and felt the excitement myself.
I have been aware of and embraced the efforts Ms. Palakiko and Ms.
Kuhaulua’s classes working cooperatively with Boys and Girls Club,
Wai`anae, to expose and teach their students computer skills, as well as
critical thinking, problem-solving, etc. through the help and guidance of
Ms. Bertina Hu. Most recently, I have also become aware that through the
auspices of HOSEF (Hawai`i Open Source Education Foundation), and its
Director, Mr. Scott Belford, this exposure and education has gone many
additional steps. I was not fully prepared for the extent this work had
progressed, but was dramatically and exceedingly pleased at seeing the
educational benefit thus far.
I went to J-6 to do observations on my students receiving SBBH
(school-based behavioral health) services. When I opened the classroom
door, I saw a vast array of machinery spread about the room. Each student
had a computer disassembled and broken down into its’ component parts;
every student looked at each computer part and meticulously cleaned it,
dusted the inner chambers and in some cases “de-bugged” (literally) them.
Then, I watched as each student, regardless of emotional burden, history of
attention deficit, pattern of non-compliance, etc. take each component and
like having mastered a jigsaw puzzle, connect each component with another
until what stood before was a completely refurbished and usable computer!
Mr. Belford went about giving low-key, positive direction, incorporated
analytical thinking combined with visual imagery and hands-on (kinesthetic)
application. Even the most challenging student (usually) was rapt at
putting “his” computer back together. Amazingly, one of my students whose
history is to withdraw and avoid most challenges when confronted with new
or difficult tasks, had a smile and a determined look on his face. (He had
a momentary lapse in memory regarding the next step – but, instead of
removing himself from the task and withdrawing into that emotional void
that only he knows, he eagerly sought guidance from Scott, who, after
systematically reviewing other student’s work, came and provided imagery
that allowed this student to successfully complete the refurbishment). The
sense of accomplishment this and the other students felt was exhibited by a
sense of calm, relative silence, confidence, smiles, and attentiveness. I
observed a masterful transition into a mini-lecture, complete with mandated
review of concepts that every student took part and demonstrated knowledge
Amazingly, this “gift” to Wai`anae Intermediate and especially to our
students is (in my humble opinion), an investment for the future. The
skills these students have picked up in a relatively short period of time
makes them potentially marketable with individuals who do the exact work
and charge in the neighborhood of $80 to $120 an hour for the same work, (I
know – my best friend does this same kind of work and that is exactly what
he charges). These students, besides picking up vocational skills, are
learning cooperation, focus, patience, the feeling of completing a
meaningful task, logical thinking and process, and a sense of
accomplishment. Additionally, each computer refurbished by our students
will become an asset to be used here on the Wai`anae Intermediate campus
and future students….”at NO financial charge”!!! How fantastic is that?!
The next project, I believe, is to have two donated servers, monitors for
each CPU (central processing unit) [thanks, Scott and students], and
additional discarded computers brought to WIS for similar treatment and set
I was not familiar with HOSEF and always like to do research, especially
when it comes to the welfare of our students. I did a web search and was
very excited at what I read and saw. I invite you to go to:
http://www.hosef.org and become familiar with this organization and its
mission and philosophy. It has received acclaim from Governor Lingle, the
state House of Representatives, as well as other notable personalities and
organizations. It is supported by volunteers and focuses on education.
Its utilization of Open Source Software (OSS) appears to make it an
additional low to no-cost solution for our school regarding computers and
applications. If our students can broaden their capabilities to the
potential of working with software and hardware, the behavioral, emotional
and academic benefits to our students, staff, and administration may be
positive and dramatic.
This is their stated vision as an organization: “We envision schools making
the most of limited resources by taking advantage of freely available Open
Source Software solutions. We envision fewer resources dis(sic)invested
through the use of proprietary software solutions. We envision more
resources invested in teachers, textbooks, and other instructional needs.
We envision technical support for these solutions coming from
entrepreneurial students within the school system, with links to community
partners, and local vendors.”
That seems like a winning philosophy to me; I’m certainly ready to embrace
it if leaders of our state have. Other schools have benefited from HOSEF’s
help, namely Campbell High, Liholiho and Kaneohe elementary schools as well
as others. Their stated values of: Integrity, Honor, Technical
Excellence, Self-Reliance, Security, Transparency, Stewardship, Creativity
are worthy of emulation by everyone.
To put the results of HOSEF’s work and Wai`anae Intermediate’s gain thus
far in financial terms, (using data from their website regarding unit
cost), I estimate the following just from yesterday’s example. There were
at least 14 CPUs donated and refurbished. (14 x $600 = $8,400; 1 printer
[possibly 2] @ $100; 1 volunteer hour = $20; 1 Admin hour = $50 or an
equivalent savings to WIS of approximately $8,570!) Add to that the
educational and emotional benefits to students and staff, and that figure
begins to pale by comparison.
I hope I’m not “jumping the gun”, but Thia and Ocie told me they are
tentatively planning a small ceremony on May 17th to celebrate the
accomplishments of our students and coincidentally thank Scott, HOSEF,
Bertina, and Boys and Girls Club, Wai`anae for their generous help and
Aloha. I certainly plan on being there to celebrate this positive
intervention; I hope you will be also.
R. Scott Belford
The Hawaii Open Source Education Foundation
PO Box 392
Kailua, HI 96734