[clug] Linux in education

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Sat Oct 6 01:14:50 GMT 2007

Paul Wayper wrote on 5/10/07 11:14 PM:
> It is an incredible waste.  It's also an incredible situation to have
> schoolchildren educated to use specific software in classrooms funded by
> taxpayers. <snip>
> I think the best advantage that FOSS offers for education is that
> everyone can
> use the same software without any cost at all. <snip>
> I feel that it's important to work on this on every level available. 
> <snip>
> And we need to continue to use FOSS wherever we can,
> and help the children (and adults) around us to learn about it.
> Have fun,
> Paul

Good analysis, good call to action.  Love all your contributions over
the years.

Here are two questions. If our collective minds come up with great
answers to these, we have a way forward.

BTW: The Public and Private School systems don't run by the same rules.
          The answers & approaches are very likely to be different...

1. What's the overwhelming reason to use F/OSS?
    - Not "MS is Evil"
    - nor the ideological inverse, "Free is Good, Everything else is Bad"
    - tangible, demonstrable benefits that address felt needs...
       - e.g. quality, control, flexibility, guaranteed support,
portability, availability, ...

2. What are the "Killer Apps" or Needs for *classroom teachers*?
    - Hint: We know it is not money!
    - Teachers are the ultimate gatekeepers here.
       - It comes down to What Gets Used - every day...
       - Do computers help or hinder the education process??
          [A: Not helpful *yet*]

On Money:
    For (public) teachers and Schools, "computer stuff" is a Free Good.
Costs them nothing.
    Because the Education Dept. supplies it all... And MS can afford to
negotiate site licenses.
    Conversion costs - including User & IT staff training - dominate the

On Teachers:
    Dedicated teachers are already overloaded... Others don't care :-)
    Learning computers inside & out is expensive in *time*.
    This is a strong disincentive to learn anything new that doesn't Add
Real Value.
On Computer Aided Instruction:
    Computers in the Classroom are nice but not essential.
    I'm not aware of *any* computer based teaching that beats
non-electronic completely.
    => caveat: I'm not expert in the field, but have asked teachers what
would work for them.
    Maybe e-mail, wiki's and Google are non-replaceable...

On Administrative Tools
    Teachers spend huge gobs of time reading, marking & doing admin tasks.
    For those used to good Helpdesk/Task tracking systems, very wasteful.
    And finding good answers to questions - Not on IT supports' KPI's!
    Even something as easy and essential as staffing - covering absences...

I'm sure there are some other dimensions to this... Would love to hear
your ideas.

Hope this is useful...


Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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