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Linux in Schools

By j-mart ·
The other day one of my son's freind was over at our house just after my son had upgraded to Mandriva 2007 on his computer. After playing around the 3D desktop and geting as MS puts it "the wow factor" he came up with a comment as regards to computing in schools

His idea was, "If schools used Linux, they in mastering this OS would be able to learn much more than they do at present using mainly Microsoft products". In his opinion learning Linux would not hinder students as they would still at a user level have no problems with a Microsoft system, if they needed to use one, but due to the nature of Linux being more than just a desktop, schools using Linux would have a much greater scope for more advanced learning yet still have the tools for the basic stuff.

It would be interesting to get a few people's opinon's on this point of view. Another benifit may be by going with Linux schools will be able to reduce their computing costs. In my view I see adoption of Linux in schools would be a positive step.

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Gr8 Idea to use Linux in Schools

by iqbal_sajid In reply to Linux in Schools

Dear J-mart,

I strongly agree with the idea of Linux in Schools.

I've just started an IT Institute in Karachi, Pakistan offering Linux and was focusing only the professionals. Now a days we have summer vacations in schools, so it would be a good idea to start a starter course for school students.

If you've got any kind of outline for school students please share.

Iqbal Sajid

Message was edited by: beth.blakely@...

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More perceptive than most

by RknRlKid In reply to Linux in Schools

Your son's friend is more perceptive than most. From my experience, kid's are more flexible and adaptable to new tasks and concepts, and they also can grasp difficult concepts, than we give them credit for. They will learn on what is infront of them.

Most of the school computers in the elementary setting where I am are Macintosh. The kids learn how to use them without problem. In high school, they work with Windows, and adapt fine. Its all about learning and adapting to new skills.

Using Linux, even the "for pay" distributions, would save the school systems a small fortune, if they would only break free of their mindset lock-in that its "too difficult" to learn something new. Heck, learning something new is what schools are supposed to be about in the first place!

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Educating the Educators

by minda In reply to More perceptive than most

You're very right that the kids would probably be happy with Linux and have no trouble adapting to other OS--the problem is the teachers and administrators who need to be convinced.

Bill reclaims a lot of obsolete Windows and Mac computers by loading various versions of Linux on them...maybe a project to donate Linux computers to schools (there obviously are many people happy to donate obsolete computers) would get some of them to try Linux?

It's probably kind of an oil spot thing: Once a few schools do it, otherwise won't find it so scary anymore, and the obvious economic benefits should be pretty powerful, given most schools' budget constraints.

Minda Zetln
The Geek Gap

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If only more would figure that out.

by RknRlKid In reply to Educating the Educators

Maybe just putting Linux on the machine and putting them "out there" is the solution. I bump heads with people about this all the time.

Case in point: The federal government has a program that when a military installation upgrades its PCs, the outdated computers can be donated, for free, to local school systems. The technology school I work out refurbishes these computers for free (they are student projects) then has them available for issue to the school systems.

Many school systems who otherwise could not afford computers DO NOT accept these free computers! They would rather buy "new" with the latest version of Windows. Now, these computers DO come with Windows, but it might be Windows 2000 instead of XP or Vista, and they are not the "latest technology."

The end customers, the schools, want Microsoft products and something "new."
I am convinced that they would be better off (and more modernized) with Linux on the free computers instead.

The school systems spend tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands of dollars upgrading systems and software, when they could have functioning refurbished systems for a fraction of the cost. The end result is that because of lack of knowledge, bias, or whatever, the schools and kids lose because of technology decisions by the administration.

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Computers in schools at the expense of the "Three Rs"?

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Linux in Schools

I often wonder if computers have any business in schools before high school. Isn't it more important to know how to read than to use Google? Are we teaching kids its more important how your video or PowerPoint presentation looks than the content it contains? I see high school graduates that can't make change if the cash register goes down.

Regarding computer skills, apparently schools don't teach that just because something's on the web doesn't make it true. Recognition of privacy and security principles have more widespread application among school-age computer users than in-depth knowledge of an operating system.

Disclaimer: I'm not a parent; my involvement with the education system is as a taxpayer. None of this is meant to belittle Linux in schools. I'm questioning the value of computers in schools regardless of OS. I'll fill in my hard-copy Luddite membership application and drop it in the snail mail.

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Not to early in education system

by j-mart In reply to Computers in schools at t ...

I think you make a good point about when computers should be in education. Too early they are just toys, early education is for basics. At high school level introduce computers and make them tools.

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How should computers be used in school

by j-mart In reply to Computers in schools at t ...

May be we should look in to how computers are used in education. Are they being used constructivly as tools or are they just toys?
From my own experience with what my own children have experienced at our local school I feel computers arn't always used constructively as they could be.

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Excellent point...

by boxfiddler Moderator In reply to Computers in schools at t ...

I work with a number of students who can't read well, can't do simple math in their heads, don't know how to effectively use a textbook, take good notes, etc... but they certainly can "google".

edit to add:
The developmental Math classes taught at my campus are taught using computers and whatever the Math software is. When a student with no Math skills and no PC literacy takes a class like this, that student is screwed. They may well be able to do the Math on paper, but the computer and software causes them trouble. They leave basic Math classes hating Math still, when in essence it is the computer that is the problem. I have tutored a number of students who perform poorly simply due to the computer.

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Although I am not a parent either

by w2ktechman In reply to Computers in schools at t ...

would it not be useful to use training tools in schools? Maybe for class standardization?
Also, a computer will teach the kids around a keyboard at an early age. his may be good for them for he rest of their lives (well, the few years before voice recognition is used instead).

It should not mater which OS is used, except for the SW being run on it. When I was volunteering at a comp recycling center, we often got donations from IBM, HP, Dell, MS, Intel, etc.. These were systems to be built and setup for schools. Many schools are not paying a lot for their hardware (desktop systems) due to programs like these.

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You've stumbled across a gold mine

by Neon Samurai In reply to Linux in Schools

I'm just sorry about how this discussion is likely to turn out with all the blah vs blah crap that floats around here. That's a tangent though.

FOSS in Schools is an idea I've considered many times. The points that keep coming back to mind go about like this:

Ideally, Students should learn tool categories, not tools. A student should learn how to use word processors not Word, Wordperfect or any other single branded tool. Heck, the branded tool I learned spreadsheets on is long since dead and I'm not that old. I use spreadsheets though, not "Excels".

This leads into the whole "schools have to teach what's actually being used in the work force. Market share. Market share. Windows is what they need to know." But a GUI interface is point and click. Unless you get picky your going to be looking at a plain old WIMP desktop. A different brand of WIMP desktop takes all of ten minutes to look over and understand. Windows WIMP GUI or any other brand.

Now, students also then get access to a variety of software and desktop. For the "computer lab" classes, it would be easy to setup computers with five or more desktops and if the user makes a mess of it; no worries, it's only the user account, delete the window managers config folder and you have a fresh start. Heck, build VMs and really let the students have a go at it. Maybe make the grade 13 computer class install Gentoo; one of it's development goals is education of the user.

That's all student benefits though which could include running Win32/64 software in a variety of ways under a *nix OS. There is the school to consider:

Most schools don't have a large budget to **** into computers so why not save the software fees and buy more hardware?

An LDAP network would be very secure for an environment where every geeks is trying to crack the network (it's what geeks do in highschool).

Even better is a setup one school used which had a server running remote desktops out to the workstation dumb terminals. They had old hardware they could continue to use while providing processing power and responsiveness from the server for multiple logins. Everything is kept secure on the server too so backup, recover and year end/start are easy to manage.

Schools are big targets for malware too so there is obvious benefits there with students getting around proxies when websites are banned.

The school admin who is usually the most technically savvy teacher when not in class spends less time fixing broken computers. Kids will still find ways to break them but the damage is more limited and easier to recover from.

Cost is an obvious one even with the education discount from MS.

Again, ideally the school should have Mac, MS and FOSS systems setup to promote learning rather than branding.

Now, schools tend to be very traditional and slow to change so there is a very conservative view towards considering something outside of what they are running now. There are politics between schools and school boards of course. There are all the other reasons you can think of. There are also the school that have used some FOSS and love it though.

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