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Re: Linux for edu

Bill Stephenson writes:
>There is a pretty high level of frustration with trying to find a budget for
>software everywhere I visited.

True everywhere.  I believe the solution lies in creating what I'll call 'do
it yourself software'. The general idea is to get the educational system to
create its own software. Remember we have an educational system that goes all
the way through college being paid for out of my pocket (taxation). There are
also private colleges that believe in giving something back to the community.
Here along with volunteer effort is where I believe the resources lie
untapped. Every since I came across Richard Stallman and the Free Software
Foundation 6 or 7 years ago, I have been thinking about how to carry this out.
Maybe now is the time.

>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.

This and a whole lot more. All we need to do is to get it to them.

>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.

I suspect it comes from business wanting the school system to provide training
for future workers rather than educating them for life. We'll do both.

>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.

Here is a source of people power for 'do it yourself software'. Putting
together a list of software required is the first step in laying out a program
to accomplish this. The ComputerBank project in Australia reloads old 386s
with Linux including the C/C++ compiler for kids in low-income families. This
is another source of programmers. Would SMSU help with this? Start small and
work up. First lay everything out so one can see where there are common parts.
Do once, use many places. You'll find things are real repetitive. Work with
Gnome and Scholar Net. For a list of apps that Gnome is working on see
(http://www.gnome.org/applist/list.phtml). It's do-able.