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Re: [school-discuss] Open-source alternatives

troy@banther-trx.homeunix.com wrote:
Hello everyone,

Is anyone on the list using completely open-source alternatives in their schools? Specifically GNU/Linux and educational programs. I would love to hear of the combinations, types of software, server setups.


Thanks for asking this question, Troy, as I have been meaning to join the conversation with a similar inquiry. I work for a regional public school consortium in Upstate New York and have been exploring FOSS possibilities for our area schools.

We currently have one district piloting several FOSS apps on their Windows PCs. Their "shortlist" includes OpenOffice, The Gimp and the Firefox web browser. (Not a very daring move by the standards of the FOSS community, perhaps, but pretty fringe stuff for this region.) At the same time, another school district has contacted me with a request very similar to what you ask here: Can I take a laptop PC, wipe its hard drive and then created a FOSS-only educational computer?

While the obvious, short answer is "Yes, simply install any flavor of Linux and then add some of the standard desktop apps (see the non-daring list above) and *Presto* an 'educational computer'", the actual response is "I am not sure." Schools have very specific needs and I have had difficulty finding FOSS replacements for things like Inspiration, which we rely on for graphic organizers / concept maps / idea webs. I have searched SchoolForge and SourceForge and not found a similar product and would love to know if there is one out there.

Aaron Tyo-Dickerson
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