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Linux for edu
Well my trip to the Vo-Tech has been educational ; )
I had wished to get a detailed spec sheet for the hardware they have but it
was not available at this time. We have 13-14 computers we are going to set
I did find out they use a pentium II clone and a 2 gig HD. I did not get
info on the video or sound cards used. I will get the details asap.
We can use 1 gig of space to partition for Linux. They want to keep their
Windows (of course).
There is a pretty high level of frustration with trying to find a budget for
software everywhere I visited. Students in middle and high school want to
learn how to use page layout, illustration, spreadsheet, image editing and
word processing software. They want to learn how to publish to the web.
Shoot, they want to learn it all.
In middle schools, teachers want students to be able to learn to use these
types of business applications too. They are very limited in what they can
provide hands on experience with because of budget constraints. What
surprises me is that they were not as interested in applications that help
teach math or reading (learning apps) as much as providing the hands on
experience with day to day business applications. For these grade levels, we
need to define what is available in those catagories. Those I spoke with
agreed that teaching how to use these various tools so that students are
familiar with the concepts involved is more important than the brand name of
the software. They are concerned that the tools they have are not lacking in
features that students want to use. When the subject of page layout apps
came up I did not have an answer for what they might use.
It is somewhat difficult not to underestimate their skill level. I had
thought we might hide the command line interface and leave out tools like
the c compilers, but that is probably not wise. After speaking with Kim, It
is my very strong belief that these kids should be taught some simple
programming at the very least and be unrestrained if they should want to go
further into programming.
When I described a simple desktop and application launcher that I thought
would work well in kindergarten and first grade classes I was very surprised
to learn what they expect first and second grade students to learn.
Listed below are the lessons and objectives in the level 1 kit. (Grade 1)
The student can start and restart the computer.
The student can properly shut down the computer.
The student can explain the basics of how a computer operates.
The student can explain the basics of how a floppy disk works.
The student can insert a floppy disk.
The student can eject a floppy disk.
The student can eject a disk, using a mouse.
The student can explain the basics of how a hard drive works.
The student can identify icons for files, programs, folders, and disks.
The student can open a window using a mouse.
The student can close a window using a mouse.
The student can identify the dos and dont's of using a hard drive.
The student can understand the size of a hard drive in relation to floppy
The students can move the mouse and point to a desired location.
The student can point and click using the mouse.
The student can click and drag the mouse.
The student can point and double-click using the mouse.
The student can open a file using the mouse.
The student can close a file using the mouse.
The student can use basic keyboard shortcuts.
The student demonstrates appropriate behavior at the computer.
The student treats equipment and disks with respect.
Second graders go on to learn a bit more and this is expected of them:
The student can explain what a hard drive is and what it is used for
The student can explain the basics of how a hard drive works
The student can understand the size of a hard drive in relation to a floppy
The student can click and drag the mouse.
The student can open and save a file using the mouse
The student can identify active and nonactive options in a menu
The student can locate a submenu using the mouse
The student can use basic keyboard shortcuts
The student can start, use and close a desk accessory.
Using the above as a start for guidelines for learning applications
developed for first and second grade we see that we can/should provide quite
a bit of interactivity where it helps with the learning process.
It seems likely that much of what these grade levels are using for learning
them for concepts. The easy access of html makes it a good platform for
teachers to customize to taste.
When speaking with the tech instructor at SMSU, He explained how he used an
app called "Ghost" (I think). He uses this to install an OS and selected
apps for the courses he is teaching that day on all the computers in his
lab. He reinstalls the software each night. This insures that all his
computers will be free of corruption each morning. A pretty handy feature
in this environment.
I am going to try and get one of their (Vo-Tech) computers for a weekend so
I can work with it. I will probably need some help with networking the group
of them but, I want these students to be involved as much as possible with
all the set up.
Once We have them up and running, we'll let them rip and tear for awhile. I
think it will be a blast to see where they go. It will also be interesting
to see how they react to having access to all this computing power.