[clug] Linux in education

Jason j.lee.nielsen at gmail.com
Mon Oct 8 07:03:33 GMT 2007

I decided to email my sister about how she uses computers in her school, she is a teacher in a small school in Invercargill New Zealand.

This is her reply to my questions, if you want me to ask her anything else let me know.


------- Forwarded message -------

thats a big question.
*What computer related stuff is in your curriculum, is there anything at
your kids age? or at primary school at all?*  We don't have a specific
computers curriculum to follow. It is kind of up to each individual school.
And it is always under the heading ICT, which means cameras, computers,
basically any ICT thing. A LOT of teachers dont teach anything at all
because they dont understand it. I think having the laptops for teachers
scheme has forced a lot of teachers to learn, but I am not sure if that is
being followed through into the classrooms.With my kids (6 year olds) you
are failry limited unless you choose to teach typing since they can't
actually do much without your help (too slow!) There are lots of things out
there to encourage ICT - Fairgo ad awards video comp, Netguide web challenge
etc, but not actually curriculum based (since there is none) .I think the
idea is pretty much that ICT is not to be taught as a seperate subject
(typing class, internet class etc) but that it will be integrated into all
areas. So for maths you might make the computer a station that the children
will rotate to (rotate because there is not a classroom with the space or
resources for kids to have one each) at writing time you might have a group
publishing on computers, that sort of thing. The computers are just 'a part'
of the classroom rather than a subject. Really effective ICT teachers would
make good use of them and teach children to be effective users, but other
teachers might just use them as game machines. (you also have to take into
account that lots of teachers don't like it when the kids know more than
they do, so they won't go there.) YOu are fairly limited in what you can do
by the software available within your school (and of course it is different
in every school) and the lack of actual computers to use. They take up huge
amounts of space and our classrooms are just not set up to provide for that.
New schools must be wonderful to work in because they can create computer

This is from the draft curriculum statement.

E-learning and pedagogy

*Information and communication technology (ICT)*

*has transformed the world in which young people*

*live and e-learning (that is, learning supported*

*by or facilitated by ICT) has similar potential to*

*transform classrooms.*

*Using ICT, students can:*

*enter and explore new learning environments,*

*overcoming barriers of distance and time;*

*join or create communities of learners that*

*extend well beyond the classroom;*

*experience customised learning that allows*

*for individual, cultural, and developmental*


*use a range of tools to save them time and allow*

*them to take their learning further.*

*Schools should explore not only how ICT can*

*supplement traditional ways of teaching, but also*

*how it can open up new and different ways of*


*Information and communication technology (ICT)*

*gives students access to a vast range of information*

*and real-life contexts that have meaning for them*

*and that can be used as a basis for learning*

*experiences. Schools need to consider how they*

*can use the opportunities offered by ICT as means*

Pretty broad eh?
*Do you guys pay for any software or do you get it free from the govt?* free
 from the govt we get the 'microsoft package' which is office (2003) and xp
for mac and pc. There is an agreement with microsoft htat the software can
be installed on all computers within schools, it is on all our laptops
(which are subsidised by the govt, and lots of schools pay the full rental
cost for teachers- otherwise it is about $7 a week). anything else we want
we have to buy. There is no specific allocation of money from the govt (that
i am aware of- and I am the school ICT person) for software or hardware so
it all comes out of our operating budget (which pays for everything in the
school that is not teacher salaries - bills, resources, teacher aides....)
Any software we do buy is really expensive because we have to buy site
licences for it.
*Do you use any custom stuff for admin or anything?*The server program that
we run was built specifically for us by matt dombroski (do you know him?),
so some things run on it and some things don't. Every school in nz has to be
on a computer system for the kids permanent records, but we can choose
whichever one we want.
*Do you use or have you looked at using open source software (Linux,
firefox, open office etc).*that sort of thing depends on each school. our IT
guy is your typical microsoft hating IT guy, so we have firefox on our
network, which is all the kids computers. Blogs are also becoming huge in
classrooms. right from New entrant classrooms up to senior high schools for
a variety of uses. I have one, and would actually use it if our school
internet ever worked. open source would be good, but obviously with the
microsoft agreement for all that free stuff for us anyway they kind of got a
good foot in the door there. We have been using microsoft stuff free in
every school since at least 2004. Good for them cos our kids all get used to
using microsoft stuff.

Also our school's  Netsafe policy requires that all kids sign computer usage
agreements about how they will be used, permissions to use etc. I have 2
kids whose parents didn't sign, so they can't use computers or interactive
whiteboard, or any ICT things. Its a pain.

big reply, but if you have any questions (or I rambled on and didnt make
sense) let me know. I have done post grad papers on ICT in schools, so I am
a bit opinionated about it.

> Hey, Hows your computer going? Have you had your techie look at it yet?
> I'm part of a local open source user group and the question came up about
> software in schools. I was hoping you could help out with a NZ primary
> school prospective. What computer related stuff is in your curriculum, is
> there anything at your kids age? or at primary school at all? Do you guys
> pay for any software or do you get it free from the govt? Do you use any
> custom stuff for admin or anything?
> Do you use or have you looked at using open source software (Linux,
> firefox, open office etc).
> Jason

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