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Open Source In Public K-12 Schools?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the starting-'em-early dept.

Education 323

MissMachine writes "I'm a computer science major who has been recently getting involved in local grassroots politics in my county and state. I've been discussing the idea with some of my state legislatures of submitting a couple of resolutions, opening up to the idea of switching to open source software in our state's K-12 schools. I'm looking for more information/literature about this topic, open source solutions in public K-12 education, pros and cons, studies that prove or disprove many of the assumptions of open source and linux in public schools. Any help in this field?"

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Helpful Link (5, Informative)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013113)

This looks helpful... [k12opensource.com]

Forget it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013275)

Lets face it, Linux users are probably the most intelligent people around. I mean, anyone can learn to be a plumber or electrician, or learn law and become a lawyer, or pick up biology and become a doctor, but having no social skills is something that has to come from inside, and cannot be learnt. Trying to teach OSS ideals to the average student would be a waste of time, they just aren't bright enough to get it. Indeed, as others have said before me, its not that Linux isn't ready for the desktop, people just aren't ready for Linux, and quite frankly the vast majority of the human race never will be; they simply aren't as clever as the average Linux user.

But I'm happy about being a Linux user, happy about being in the 1% of the population intelligent enough to think for themselves and not follow the hurd. The clever people will find Linux, forget the rest, they don't matter.

Re:Forget it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013371)

happy about being in the 1% of the population intelligent enough to think for themselves and not follow the hurd.

Damn straight! That GNU kernel has been in development for too long to have never made a release. Following the Hurd kernel would be madness!

Re:Forget it (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013479)

Lets face it, Linux users are probably the most intelligent people around.

And you guys wonder why others perceive the lot of you as having a superiority complex. I stopped reading right there.

Re:Forget it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013549)

sarcasm.

Re:Forget it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013875)

It should not be modded 'funny'. There is more truth in that sarcasm, than humor.

Re:Forget it (5, Insightful)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013871)

If you don't read the whole message then you have no right to be offended by it.

Re:Forget it (0, Flamebait)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014199)

YOU SUCK. ... just kidding :)

Re:Forget it (1)

MousePotato (124958) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014139)

If only I had mod points today.

Now excuse me while I wipe the coffee off of my monitor.

Re:Forget it (1)

Omega996 (106762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014155)

I thought that GNU/Linux users (let's use the politically correct idiom, since you mentioned OSS ideals) *did* follow the Hurd. That was the whole point, right? I mean, you (collectively) may not use the hurd kernel, but you (again, collectively) certainly use tools derived from or built for this totally free operating system... right? ;)

Re:Forget it (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014215)

I'm not comprehending why you were modded funny. Having just tried Linux myself, I didn't find it easy to use, simply because I didn't know how to use the CLI.

But even if you don't use Linux, you can still use open source choices like OpenOffice, VLC Media Player, Audacity, and so on in order to reduce K-12 School costs. Just abandoning MS Office for OpenOffice will save ~$70,000 for a 1000-computer school district. You can embrace OSS while still sticking with the familiar windows or macintosh environment.

Re:Forget it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014219)

At least the rest of the population knows how to spell 'herd' correctly.

Just a piece of advice: If you want to sound like an elitist jerk, ensure your spelling and grammar are up to snuff. Or, at the very least, ensure its above a 3rd grade reading level. I find it hard to take anyone seriously who takes on a rant like that yet lacks the capability of spelling simple four-letter words.

KEEP SAME SEX EDUCATION OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013467)

No Linux, no open source, no Apple, no publicly funded homosexual propaganda.

Thank you!

Re:Helpful Link (1, Informative)

tdobson (1391501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013607)

http://schoolsforge.org.uk/ [schoolsforge.org.uk]

These links are good too. (3, Interesting)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013779)

http://www.k12openminds.org/ [k12openminds.org] and http://community.k12opensource.com/ [k12opensource.com] Open Source in schools is a great cost saver, but you need to support it and not just throw it over the wall. Look at K12LTSP/K12Linux or virtualized desktops. There is a good chance that e-rate funding will cover 90% of the install costs. Watch out for Education ISV's, you are taking food out of their mouths. Don't forget Moodle.

Why? (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013123)

You don't state a reason why you think it is a good idea to switch.

How would you like it if the government just decided to repave the roads with coral and rubber? Wouldn't that be great!

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013165)

You don't state a reason why you think it is a good idea to switch.

Which is why, instead of asking for "How to..." she asked for some studies on the subject, presumably so that she might determine whether it is a good idea to switch or not.

It would certainly be _free_, but would it be better?

She didn't even mention that she advocated the switch yet, just that it had been discussed and she needs more information.

Ease up, troll.

Re:Why? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013213)

Certainly asking this type of question on Slashdot exposes her bias?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013583)

Certainly asking this type of question on Slashdot exposes her bias?

Clearly you trolling her about it shows yours.

Re:Why? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013829)

Certainly, posting this kind of response to a valid point exposes your assholery.

Re:Why? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013993)

>>>Which is why, instead of asking for "How to..." she asked for some studies on the subject, presumably so that she might determine whether it is a good idea to switch or not.

I hope you're right. Here in Pennsylvania certain persons are pushing for video poke machines* to be legalized, and run by the state. Ironically when the senators asked the advocates to testify, "How many video poker games currently exist, and how much money do they earn?" the advocate just sat their dumbfounded. Then she admitted she did not know. I just love people who want to push for an idea, mandated by government, and they haven't even done their basic research. Perhaps if they had, they'd discover they should not be advocating legalization of video poker.

I hope this Linux lady will do some research, and unveil the facts in favor (or against) Linux, rather than be like the video poke advocate and not know.

*
* I object to video poker for moral reasons. It's like handing a six-pack to an alcoholic, or a needle to a drug user. I don't care what people like Donald Trump do with their gambling empires, but I do not think the government should be involved with becoming rich off sick persons (addicts).

reasons to switch (4, Informative)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013255)

"You don't state a reason why you think it is a good idea to switch"

'View a cost comparison chart (pdf) that shows how open source solutions can leverage your costs [k12opensource.org] '

'The use of open technologies in education is now commonplace throughout the world with one notable exception, the United States. School and district technology leaders need to become aware of how these other educational systems are leveraging the use of open technologies to improve student learning, engage parent and community interest in education, provide home access to technologies used in school and use their financial resources in the most effective way possible. Consider these possible benefits [k12opentech.org] ..'

* Cost: License Fees and TCO -
* Data integrity/interoperability -
* Independence and Flexibility -
* Stability and Reliability -
* Broader Access to Information -
* Community Support -
* Engage Students in Collaboration -

English versus metric (0, Offtopic)

az-saguaro (1231754) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014167)

This reminds me of English versus metric, how most of the world uses metric measures, whereas in the US (and elsewhere?), feet, inches, quarts, and pounds persist. Sounds like now might be a good time for MS to lock up rights to the english measurement systems, convert all Windows coding to those standards, and start charging activation fees to use a foot-long ruler . . . keeping unilateralism alive and well.

Dear MissMachine: (0, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013127)

*ahem* [taps microphone]

DO YOUR OWN FUCKING RESEARCH.

Thank you. HTH. HAND.

=Smidge=

Re:Dear MissMachine: (3, Informative)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013237)

I know you're scared, but with that attitude, you'll never get her back to your mom's basement.

Re:Dear MissMachine: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013509)

bad day at the office?

Re:Dear MissMachine: (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013709)

Hmm, stop copping out and using english, use your own fucking language!

Maybe she (could be male) has already tried, or maybe she doesn't have the time. If you get subpoena'd, is your immediate reaction "pfft, fuck it, I can do all this lawyering myself", it's part of the foundation of society, families, employers, and employees, we all can't do everything, so we specialize, and use those specialties where applicable, otherwise we ask for help, as long as there is someone to ask.

But, who asked is irrelevant, the idea behind questions being posted on Slashdot, isn't really to answer that one persons request, but also to answer other peoples, and get more peoples attention on the matter, which means more people investigating, a broader base of knowledge, eventually it's common knowledge, and no one really needs to do your own fucking research. Hundreds (thousands?) have people have done this already, and considering it's not physics, or chemistry or anything, chances are whatever their conclusion is, is perfectly usable, but since it's not commonly known yet, it still needs "advertising".

Or in brief: this doesn't hurt anything, it's making people think about a (plausibly) good thing (education, better/cheaper/more efficient/more open), so stfu.

Re:Dear MissMachine: (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014109)

I know that a trite Ask Slashdot combined with the fact that it's posted under news all topped off with kdawson as the poster can be enough to make the best of us rage, but please, it's not worth wasting your karma for.

One thing... (5, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013225)

One thing you really need to make sure, is that the teachers know that OSS is better. Far too often I have seen people who look at Linux and think that the school could not afford MS products or Macs, not that Linux is better than MS products. Also, make sure that you aren't losing money by going to OSS. For example, if your school just bought brand new Vista machines and Office 2007 licenses for all of them, you might be out of luck. On the other hand if your school uses P4 or slower CPUs and XP or earlier, Linux might just be the thing it needs.

The Support and Training Issue (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013259)

IMHO, the biggest problems with any computer deployment in our K-12 classrooms are always support and training. If a school district adopts Linux and open source then who is going to be the admin in charge of updates, patches, server, network, and desktop maintenance, etc? Competent Linux admins are harder to find than people with at least basic knowledge of Mac and Windows and are likely to cost more too. So unless someone within the district, who will not be any worse off for saying no, wants to step up and take on the task of learning to be a Linux admin who is going to manage the whole affair? Also, how many teachers know how to use Linux or are willing to invest the time required to learn? After all, they cannot teach their students that which they themselves do not know. These are not insubstantial difficulties.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013321)

I agree. Who will admin this? My sons' grammer school has Macbooks. The teachers can barely use them, as well as many of the parent volunteers. Switching to open source in my school would mean most of the teachers would skip computer time completely.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (2, Insightful)

Tarmus (1410207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013427)

Anyone who can't even use a Macbook doesn't have any business instructing the future leaders of tomorrow.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013645)

welcome to the state of the american education system.

And yet nobody wants to fix it. The teachers would love to be better trained, but it's not worth getting all those classes to be paid a paltry $32,000 a year. They cant even pay back their student loans in many cases.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013839)

Where did this $32,000 figure come from? According to the American Federation of Teachers, beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $31,753 in the 2004-05 school year. [bls.gov] That's more than my starting salary was as an engineer in a decent sized metropolitan area. Had I been living back in the small town where I grew up, that would be a pretty decent chunk of money. Granted, the salary increase prospect for an engineer is much greater due to the more complex project structures that give engineers much greater advancement opportunity. Still not bad though for having all government holidays and 3 months of vacation.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014041)

It should also be noted that getting a bachelor degree at a state university is quite cheap.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013677)

Who ever suggested that the US public school system was design to instruct leaders?

Re:The Support and Training Issue (5, Insightful)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013453)

From what I've seen lately, if you put edubuntu on a bunch of machines, the kids will figure out how to use them before the teacher finds the power switch.

Never use the ignorance and laziness of an adult as an excuse to stifle the education and development of a child!

Re:The Support and Training Issue (4, Insightful)

profaneone (316036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013747)

I disagree. By hiring that linux/unix admin you get an infrastructure that is deployed across the school district and will require little administration. One (or two) people can administer the whole affair (I am thinking primarily network booting with the standard education applications [see k12linux or edubuntu])).
The Microsoft and Mac approaches appear to necessitate a local admin at all times.

While I don't have a problem with the local teacher administering the computers, those teachers that only care about computers as a tool, can use them as such. Program to accomplish task X is installed at the beginning of the setup and reviewed with the teacher yearly, bi-annually, etc.

Teaching has been around for a long time. There is a cirriculum that is fairly constant to be met. Just as periodic reviews allow for said cirriculum to be updated with newer methods of teaching, so to can periodic review of programs result in better programs to fulfill said teaching need.

The object is to teach kids, not just teach them computers.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013791)

most of the teachers would skip computer time completely.

And the problem is?

My opinion is that most of the things learned in K-12 should be learned without the use of a computer anyway. Teach the kids how to type, sure. If some have interests in programming, run some lower level programming courses. Kids will pick up computer skills outside of school. We don't need them to be completely dependent on technology. There's no substitute for a strong foundation in the fundamentals. Technology isn't necessary for that.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014023)

And let me guess... you skipped grammar school yourself?

Re:The Support and Training Issue (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013543)

If a school district adopts Linux and open source then who is going to be the admin in charge of updates, patches, server, network, and desktop maintenance, etc?

who does it now? That is your answer. If they cant, then tell them, learn or we need to replace you. Magically they learn.

problem is most schools dont have an answer to the question. One charter school in Detroit used Best Buy! Their school was a mess, the cisco firewall was disconnected and a linksys put in place as the Geek squad moron told them it was better. all the servers were a mess, and the network was a disaster. They hired us to fix it, then told us the contract was too much and went back to "ala-carte" random computer dweeb company for its-on-fire repairs. I think at least 50 people in southfield knows the admin passwords to all their stuff.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (4, Insightful)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013639)

IMHO, the biggest problems with any computer deployment in our K-12 classrooms are always support and training. If a school district adopts Linux and open source then who is going to be the admin in charge of updates, patches, server, network, and desktop maintenance, etc? Competent Linux admins are harder to find than people with at least basic knowledge of Mac and Windows and are likely to cost more too. So unless someone within the district, who will not be any worse off for saying no, wants to step up and take on the task of learning to be a Linux admin who is going to manage the whole affair? Also, how many teachers know how to use Linux or are willing to invest the time required to learn? After all, they cannot teach their students that which they themselves do not know. These are not insubstantial difficulties.

So let me get this right; you need a competent Linux admin; while Windows/Mac don't need an admin at all, just someone with a basic knowledge?

Windows also has the need for patches, server, network and desktop maintenance that Linux does; in addition to having more expensive license requirements; software inventory requirements; anti-virus requirements?

Re:The Support and Training Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014067)

So let me get this right; you need a competent Linux admin; while Windows/Mac don't need an admin at all, just someone with a basic knowledge?

Thats the point. The people doing that work now are the teachers, at least in my corner of the US. They only have basic knowledge, so the classroom is a disaster. And in my children's school, it _is_ a disaster.

My son, 5 years old, is more proficient in Windows and Fedora 10 than nearly all his teachers. My daughter, 9 years old, can install both from PXE or CD.

I recently joined the regional technology committee, and I do donate my time (it's for the children! -- well my children :)) but budgets being what they are, I'm not very hopeful of reducing costs with OSS, or getting a competent admin in-house either.

Posted as AC so as not to undo mod points. I should have read more into this thread before choosing to mod some interesting comments up.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013679)

the biggest problems with any computer deployment in our K-12 classrooms are always support and training

It's very sad that that's the biggest hurdle for OSS in k-12.

When I was in HS, we had an intro to programming class (using VB) and an advanced programming class (C++). The problem was that the cost of entry for working on projects at home was high. If you're going to teach a subject, especially in public schools, you should either provide all of the tools for free to the students to use at home or use free tools. I didn't want to buy VisualStudio for home and luckily the majority of the code we worked on was platform independent (all cin/cout crap using iostream), but those were the tools we were taught on. I owned CodeWarrior, so I was able to do stuff at home.

At the time (this is 97-99), Linux wasn't really an option for such a class... LiveCDs weren't prevalent and the usability of desktop Linux was so low, imho, that I don't think I would have recommended that at the time. Now, on the other hand, I feel that you could distribute a liveCD with the full development environment for people to use the tools at home and save the files to a USB stick. It wouldn't be expensive to supply every kid with a 256MB stick and a CDR with their environment on it.

this is one of the reasons that I think Java is so widely taught in colleges. It's not the greatest language, but it's got no cost of entry and developing in windows isn't that hard, even when you're only using notepad++. Of course, arguments could be made that you could teach the kids Python or Ruby instead, and I agree, but that's another subject for discussion.

Also, having OSS in schools doesn't necessarily have to mean Linux exclusively. You could have macs or windows machines with OSS software running on them. Not everyone can afford to buy Office, so you could have OpenOffice.

You can have a pretty decent mostly free desktop environment running in a commercial, non-free OS that won't cost a fortune to support.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013731)

I'd love to see how a public school could afford the milling machines, metal lathes and presses for all the metal shop students to use at home.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013763)

I am from rural southern america and there are plenty of competant linux admins around here. just none with certifications :(

ktouch is way better than any touch type tutor my school had :)

gcompris keeps kids sucked in learning better than my kindergarden teacher did...

kbruch helped me through 5th grade :)
and kalgebra through high school...

opensource is vital to my learning, it can help others im sure...

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

pla (258480) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013805)

After all, they cannot teach their students that which they themselves do not know.

Thus explaining why we never advanced beyond harvesting naturally-ignited fires from lightning strikes?

Like it or not, today's kids already know far, far more about technology than their teachers (college-level engineering professors excepted, and sometimes even then). In particular, the research and collaborative aspects of technology that most apply to education, kids "get" in a way only the uber-geeks among their elders will ever grasp.

Now, if we both accept public school as merely a form of socialized babysitting with the occasional unintended side effect of imparting a bit of knowledge from the tedious daily busy-work, I'll agree that having the prisoners more competent than the jailers raises serious control issues... But from the "education" perspective, the brand of tool doesn't matter, only that it works. And mind your metaphors!

Re:The Support and Training Issue (2, Insightful)

colesw (951825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014003)

Like it or not, today's kids already know far, far more about technology than their teachers

I use to think this too, but then I realized most kids know more about gadgets or how to use the latest tech "thing" but most kids have no idea why it works, or how to fix it if something is wrong.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

laxsu19 (1256044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014093)

Like it or not, today's kids already know far, far more about technology than their teachers (college-level engineering professors excepted, and sometimes even then). In particular, the research and collaborative aspects of technology that most apply to education, kids "get" in a way only the uber-geeks among their elders will ever grasp.

I would agree to that.. but not for EVERY child in the classroom.

Assuming that the computers being used in schools are not allowed to be customized by students (not being root, or not having admin priv in windows), what really is the difference between open source and using windows? Opening a program is honestly the same between the two (assuming icons are on the desktop). Students/teachers not knowing how to use the computers is not an issue as long as they can get to the encyclopedia, or whatever learning software they need on the PC.

Now, if we both accept public school as merely a form of socialized babysitting with the occasional unintended side effect of imparting a bit of knowledge from the tedious daily busy-work, I'll agree that having the prisoners more competent than the jailers raises serious control issues... But from the "education" perspective, the brand of tool doesn't matter, only that it works. And mind your metaphors!

Agreed, its sad that alot of teachers do just use busy-work as a way to get through their day, instead of giving work to help the students learn. I know thats the way it is at least in inner city schools (aka Washington DC... its fun down here...), but certainly not in the ones I grew up in in suburban NY, there, the teachers at least care and are not just trying to 'survive another day.'

Re:The Support and Training Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013827)

I believe only part of what you say. The #1 problem I have with open source in the school settings is the end user, that expects to drag their Photoshop software, there MS office and all those stupid math, reading and literacy software programs that are required.

Tack onto that the 99% of the companies that develop software for the education sector that require Windows for their software to work.

Every year the student curriculum is reviewed and vendors ply there wares to the school districts. All of them have interactive software on DVD with quizes, tutorials and testing material and walla All of them require Microsoft.

I love linux (yes even just the kernel), and the idea of using open source in the schools. But nothing is more frustrating than setting up a half dozen open source programs for a user on a windows machine then a month later finding out they used Home and school club money to purchase MS office, and spent money at the teacher resource center for 10 year old software for Reading, writing and Math Programs.

Re:The Support and Training Issue (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014195)

Not to mention the support and training of the parents too. If a student works on a document on a Linux box at school and then takes it home to work on they'll be in for a shock. How many families can afford 2 computers, (I for their work and the other for the kids') and how many have the capability to learn to dual boot?

Schoolsforge (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013267)

in the UK there is Schoolsforge-uk a grassroots non-profit collective of interested parties who are trying to push this kind of stuff to the same age group courses schoolsforge.org.uk

Simple as MONEY!!! (1)

ronz0o (889697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013281)

I made this video in order to promote OSS for a class. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4M9KJpDJL4 [youtube.com] Make something like this...Argue licensing for MS, software, etc. Versus Linux = FREE.

Personal Pro's and Con's (1)

Het Irv (1424087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013299)

For me the Pro's and Con's are about even. I use Linux as my main OS, but I don't think that it is ready for 100% mainstream use yet. I think that Linux should be used in labs that are mainly used for browsing the Internet and writing papers. Unfortunately in education there are alot of specialty software programs that are needed by the teacher, and WINE... well, its nowhere near where it needs to be for something like that. I also don't like the idea of teaching kids how to use an OS that isn't used in the workplace. Schools are for preparing kids for life and work. But I also think that if Linux was taught, It would be more widely accepted and some of the other problems would fix themselves. I guess my recommendation is to have Linux in Internet labs, and Computer Science classrooms, and have knowledgeable staff available to help students transition if they want to

not ready for mainstream use yet .. (2, Interesting)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013601)

"For me the Pro's and Con's are about even. I use Linux as my main OS, but I don't think that it is ready for 100% mainstream use yet"

In a school environment, what isn't Linux yet ready for [youtube.com] .

"Unfortunately in education there are alot of specialty software programs that are needed by the teacher"

Apart from this 'specialty software', what other educational software [schoolforge.net] could provide similar functionality that isn't yet available under Linux.

"I also don't like the idea of teaching kids how to use an OS that isn't used in the workplace"

You're kidding, once a kid learns how to use one desktop GUI, s/he's learned them all.

"Schools are for preparing kids for life and work"

As far as I could see, schools prepare kids for passing exams ...

Re:not ready for mainstream use yet .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013831)

i'll tell you, if my kids were in a school that wasn't running windows i'd be removing them from that school. it's that simple. no amount of the garbage you can spew about open office being as good as ms office is going to cut it with me.

Know the final users (4, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013317)

Make sure you understand that you have a very, very, very wide range of users. I deal with non-tech graduate students all the time(the same age as the youngest teachers in the field) and they are not tech savvy. They can myspace and youtube, and maybe superpoke someone on facebook, but that's it. Don't expect the youngest teachers to be the most techy. You'll find good, older teachers near retirement that can give you a run for your money.

Be aware that most k-12 schools have almost no budget. They can get money for hardware/software purchases, but a *good* tech to handle some of the idiosyncrasies of F/OSS is out of their budgets. A 50 computer lab on a 4 year rotation(many schools would kill for computers that new) only costs around $15,000 a year. They'll come with an os installed and maybe a cheap educational copy of office. To hire someone, say 40k-50k a year + benefits, to put a different os on the desktops is a huge expense.

My suggestion would be to start small. Make the decision making process open and transparent. Ask schools to have a cost/benefit analysis of the software purchases. You'll see your biggest savings in server apps, not desktops.

See if you can get schools to have a traveling tech, consolidate servers, etc. This can be difficult. A lot depends on what state you are in. A midwestern state, with lots of small schools with low enrollments(30-50 in a graduating class) may be better served by server consolidation. On the other hand, if you are in a big city where the graduating class is bigger than the entire k-12 school I graduated from, you'll have a bigger budget and a better chance of getting an onsite tech.

Show them security. Student records are highly confidential. Show them how spending less on the server software can increase their security.

It really comes down to knowing your audience and what they want and expect.

Re:Know the final users (1)

spinkham (56603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013735)

The parent is definitely pointing you in the correct direction.
Pushing for Linux on a statewide level is probably the wrong move, but trying to start a local pilot program where you can get the school to buy into it first rather then have it legislated on them is probably a better option. If you can make it work well, you've got somthing to point to when trying to push statewide. If you can't, you've learned a lot about both the tech and the politics involved.

Pushin slowly and getting buy-in almost always brings better results then top down legislation, in education, politics, and general business.

Re:Know the final users (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013943)

Pushing for Linux on a statewide level is probably the wrong move, but trying to start a local pilot program where you can get the school to buy into it first..

What better place for getting funding than the state legislature?

Re:Know the final users (1)

spinkham (56603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014047)

Yes, if you can get the state legislature to fund a pilot program that's great.
First find the correct place to run it and get the school to buy in, and then if possible get outside funding.. I'm not saying the state legislature can't be helpful, just that a pilot should be run, and it should be somewhere that has the most chance of success. Buy-in matters most, if the school is hostile to your idea it will fail no matter how much money and laws the state throws at it...

Where are the K-12 Open Source Teachers? (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013343)

You have an entrenched base of Mac and Windows-teaching teachers in the K-12 system (and *nothing* says "entrenched" like a US Public School System teacher). Who's going to convince the union that they should switch their curriculum to an Open OS and Open Apps? You? Stallman? And since the majority of parents (and teachers) view K-12 computer class as akin to Home Economics or Auto Shop (i.e., teaching the kids something "practical, real-life, that they can use") where will that sudden groundswell of support for open software come from? The children, who are anxious to play all those linux-based games? Oh, wait...

This is one change that, if it comes at all, will not arise up out of the schools, but downward from business. When the moms and dads get linux-friendly at work, and can see the value of their children learning the apps in "computer shop," you may see some change.

Re:Where are the K-12 Open Source Teachers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013977)

You are most likely correct. I remember reading not so long ago on ./ (lazy to find the link) the story of a woman accusing a F/OSS supporter of assaulting the future of her children by teaching them useless F/OSS practices that would diminish their future opportunities by reducing their "Windows Experience".

The education system is designed to bring up children into what already exists. The grinding point for change occurs where adults learned "Process A" and must enter the workforce suddenly using "Process B". It will not occur where children learn "Process B" to incur change on "Process A" when they enter the workforce. Children will learn what is practical now.

Hi (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013345)

Hi, I'm a college nerd and I like Linux.
I want to "get involved" and "make a difference" as many college kids do.

How do I go about doing this?

Re:Hi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013861)

Code

Re:Hi (1)

tdobson (1391501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013901)

get involved!!

In the north west UK I do some very region specific stuff but some of the links here my give you a few things to get going on...

http://dfey.freedomdreams.co.uk/wiki/Groups [freedomdreams.co.uk]

Contact me if you still have no idea - tdobson.net/contact

Talk to those involved. (2, Informative)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013361)

Admittedly, I don't know many K-12 IT folks who are open-minded about FOSS & Linux. There is a guy a few towns away from me Chris Dawson who writes a blog on ZDnet that addresses his concerns and experiences. Here [zdnet.com] is a blog that talks about the subject. Browse around some of his back editions, you'll find more info.

I don't know of any such research and studies specifically, but I'd suggest that asking educators and their IT folk about what problems they are trying to solve before offering a solution. Are they trying to run specific Windows-only software? Does that software have a Linux equivalent (browser/office apps)? Can it be run under WINE with no problems? Look at their infrastructure to see if a thin client/LTSP solution for classroom PCs might save them electricity and upgrade costs over the long run.

Do a pilot program in a couple schools, and use them as the basis for further proposals to legislators and other school districts.

Chicken and egg problem (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013363)

You have a bit of a chicken and egg problem when it comes to open source in K-12. The argument (and it's a good one) for using Windows in schools is so kids will be familiar with it, which is critical in the workplace since 99% of workplaces uses Windows extensively. At the same time, workplaces aren't going to switch to Linux because 99% of their potential employees know only Windows.

Of course, in theory more workplaces would eventually start to move to Open Source if more students came out of school knowing how to work in that sort of environment, but most schools don't want to take that gamble. If the schools did switch everyone to Linux, for example, but the vast majority of the workplace is still on Windows, you now have a bunch of people entering the workforce that are ill-equipped to work with the technology therein, and your school takes the hit for not properly preparing them. Likewise, if you're a business, you have a disincentive to switch to Linux because then you'd have to spend millions training people who grew up using Windows how to use it. That isn't even taking into account the old problem that all the software companies develop for Windows first and, usually, only.

Saving money is an argument that usually works very well in the cash-starved education system, but when it runs up against the need to make kids into well-qualified workers, things get messy.

Re:Chicken and egg problem (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013893)

That's why you train kids to use the computer in generic ideas instead of specific operations. One could argue that if you trained all the kids on XP/2K and Windows 7 was the OS they would be faced with in the workforce, there's just as much of a learning curve.

Re:Chicken and egg problem (1)

reashlin (1370169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014099)

Then fork the education the other way. Don't teach kids how to use MS Word - teach them how to use a wordprocessor. I don't just mean how to use OOo Writer instead. I mean how to use a wordprocessor. What fonts are for and why. Why you should use headers, table of contents etc. Don't teach kids to insert a ToC by clicking this button then this button then this button and repeat. Schools would do well to actually teach students to learn to use the machines in a much more broad sense. Not "this is the power button" but "a power button will have this symbole on it".

Check with the Indiana Department of Education (3, Informative)

MISplice (19058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013381)

They are currently working on a similar process to get a unified platform created with Linux to lower the costs in schools. I know they have been working on it the last 2 years but do not know the status of the project currently.

Re:Check with the Indiana Department of Education (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013611)

They are currently working on a similar process to get a unified platform created with Linux to lower the costs in schools. I know they have been working on it the last 2 years but do not know the status of the project currently.

I don't know how that is going now considering there was a big shakeup of the higher ranking officials in the DOE. My understanding is a lot of the pro Linux people were kicked to the curb, and all the replacements have ties to the governor. Sounds like they are borrowing political ideals form there neighbors in the Land of Lincoln. ZING!

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013387)

I believe there were a couple of articles in Linux Journal written by an admin that also moved his school over to OSS. I also think he referenced his pros and cons in making the decisions, and the final outcome once complete.

This guy has deployed FOSS in education (3, Informative)

profaneone (316036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013389)

http://www.classroom20.com/profile/AlexInman

Get The Facts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013411)

Start by presenting information from Microsoft's Get The Facts campaign. Only remember to do it on opposite day.

Start locally, with teachers, not politicians (3, Informative)

Jonathan Blocksom (139314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013425)

I sell a closed source educational software product and I've seen the insides of a lot of schools. I know that any teacher or school IT coordinator is going to hate to see their known infrastructure replaced at the whim of the state legislature by something they had no say in.

You need to be talking to the people in the schools first, not the people making the laws. Odds are you can find some problems that Open Source software can help with and a few IT coordinators who are on board with it. Then evangalize your local success, highlighting money saved and better student performance, and you'll start opening up a lot more people's minds to open source software.

But top-down through the politicians is not the way to go (case in point). [laptop.org]

If you really want to change the landscape, though, find a way to actually fund open source educational software development. It's a shame that we don't have something like a PBS for educational software. I'd much rather write software that everyone can have for free.

Bad, bad idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013435)

In an earlier time, we would've recognized this for what it was - nothing less than an attempt by communists to subvert and warp our children with crazy ideas about utopias where everything is free and you don't have to work hard.

Nowadays, people have forgotten the subtle yet powerful influence this stuff has on our kids. At some schools, they don't even say the Pledge of Allegiance anymore.

Proprietary Software Problems (2, Insightful)

TerminalOldFart (1196043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013439)

In my limited exposure to K-12 systems I have noted that in every district I've seen, there has been a software package in use for grade/attendance tracking, etc. that requires either Windows or Mac. Aside from the non-trivial issues of training, we really need an open-source alternative to the proprietary systems for this that are out there now. Of course, I'm no expert and there very well may be an open source project. If so, I'd be interested because the cost savings to my local school district would be huge I suspect.

Re:Proprietary Software Problems (2, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013637)

<FOSS Rorschach> The teachers will cry out: Fix this bug! And I'll whisper: Code it yourself.</FOSS Rorschach>

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013469)

Try Chris Dawson who blogs on ZD net. He is an IT director in education and seems to want to work with Linux et al

My $.02 (2, Interesting)

sikanappikiisseli (1466023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013505)

Hi,

I was involved in one such project in Finland over ten years ago. At this time Linux was just starting to take off but was robust enough to be used even then. We had one server (NFS, bootp, email, web etc.) with over 100 PC hooked up to it (we also built the basic local area network there with students; 50 ohm coax at that time ;-). Students could connect the machine using dialup (and our outside internet connection was 64kb/s!). Most computers in individual class rooms were running windows but we had two student classrooms that ran both windows and linux (about 50 PCs). I also created a simple linux based boot floppy (bootp was used to ID machine specific configuration) that could restore workstations from the server. Another floppy could be used to generate a model computer image to the server.

Few observations:

1) Before this, it was impossible to let students work in the computer classrooms without someone sitting behind them. Otherwise the windows systems just got killed on few minutes. After this new setup, we were able to let students use the classrooms at any time. If they killed windows, we could restore it in 10 minutes with the linux based boot floppy. The linux side, which many students started using, would run for months without problems. Also network printing worked very smoothly (compared to what they had previously).

2) There were problems getting teachers (except the ones teaching computers) to use linux. At that time linux desktop was not ready for casual users. The current linux distros are much much better. While I was happy with LaTeX, it was obvious that most people could not use it. There was some version of wordperfect available (through SYSV emulation) but it was buggy.

3) Linux was a great environment to get students to learn basic concepts in programming. For example, I had couple of 7th graders who became quite good programmers in a very short time.

4) All this pretty much ended when the school district got a "common information technology strategy". They required windows based solutions etc. These people were complete morons. Supposedly trained computer experts but they could hardly reinstall windows if asked. I think the most difficult problem is to find people who actually know something about computers. Somehow one should make sure that computer illiterate people don't make all the important decisions.

Means to an end (2, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013619)

For a second, I thought I submitted this question. You sound a lot like me!

I fancy myself knowledgeable, so I'll share.

The spread of open source software must come as a means to an end, not simply as an edict from the state legislature or DoEd. Remember that legislators move slow and what they write is law. The DoEd moves even slower. Campaign locally--get some success stories at one or two districts, then work on the DoEd and beyond. If you really want to, get yourself elected or appointed to the school board and work from within. However, watch conflicts of interest, as those are a political downfall.

Saving money on licenses for software should be a primary talking point for any advocacy of open source software, not just in education.

It is probably best to work in phases. In the first phase, do top-down, easy replacements: Firefox, OpenOffice. In the second phase, identify other education domain-specific software which needs to be replaced and try to find replacements. In the third phase, try a small lab with Linux and all non-replaced software running with Wine.

There will be software which simply doesn't work on Linux. A part of the planning is figuring out how to handle those cases. Photoshop cannot be replaced with GIMP, no matter how much anyone would have you believe this. GIMP suffices for many, many things, but Photoshop has a stranglehold which GIMP cannot ever break (if you don't know why, you've never worked in a printing or graphic design place).

Do not push Linux as a part of the first phase. It's too much of a change at once and could put a bad taste in administrators', teachers', students', and parents' mouth.

A smart move may be to convince some intrepid students to be the first to switch at home, thus proving that the students are capable of using open source software for educational tasks. Do the same with a few teachers.

Interoperability is key. If student would need to work on something at school then take it home, the student must have access to the same software in both places.

A point to hit for the state legislatures is the local developer factor. Buying Microsoft software benefits Redmond, Washington. Paying for open source software may benefit local developers, especially if there is a provider of Linux support nearby.

In summary, the my heaviest point is this: means to an end, not a solution looking for a problem.

I wish you luck (1, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013623)

With all the shortcomings in Open Source's ability to open Microsoft Office's documents, I wish you luck.

In my experience, school officials are so biased against anything not Microsoft that convincing them is almost impossible. I wish you luck man.

This KDE developer has something [blogspot.com] that would interest you.

If you can't come up with good reasons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013643)

Maybe it's not such a good idea.

Seriously, keep your politics away from my kids' education.

I was IT Director for a small K-12 school distric (1)

Horse Rotorvator JAD (834524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013663)

The servers were all either Win2k workstations set up to run as "servers" or old 200MHz servers running Netware 4.11 with Groupwise.
They had no money to upgrade and the infrastructure was in really bad shape. I took some of the better workstations, loaded them up with salvaged RAM and hard drives and installed CentOS on them. All the servers did was file sharing (via samba) and DHCP. The schools web hosting ISP provided free POP/IMAP accounts so we got off Groupwise and used Thunderbird for their email. The whole setup was very very simple and when I quit, I left very detailed and simple to follow instructions on how to manage and maintain things.
Within a year they called me absolutely desperate because they were having issues (from what it sounded like, possible hardware issues, and some permission issues with samba). I pointed them to various resources where they could get help but in the end they paid some consultant to come in and replace everything with a Windows server running Exchange because they simply could not find anyone to help them with their Linux issues for the prices that they could afford.

ILIAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013687)

One of the most useful OSS packages for education (K-12 and college) is http://www.ilias.de/

k-12 LTSP is interesting (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013729)

The site http://k12ltsp.org/ [k12ltsp.org] discusses the how and why of a charter school that switched to Open Source, running decent servers on the back end, and dumb/cheap clients on the front end. There is quite a bit of discussion on the site about the benefits, and challenges that you would face.

Re:k-12 LTSP is interesting (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013753)

Okay, I just noticed that they changed some things since I last looked into when I was doing Volunteer work a few years ago, and it is now Legacy, the project is now: https://fedorahosted.org/k12linux/ [fedorahosted.org]

Owned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013737)

Sorry to say this, but Microsoft will own you. They may well destroy your career [groklaw.net] and attack members of your family [tbray.org] :

I was sitting on the XML Working Group and co-editing the spec, on a pro bono basis as an indie consultant. Netscape hired me to represent their interests, and when I announced this, controversy ensued. Which is a nice way of saying that Microsoft went berserk; tried unsuccessfully to get me fired as co-editor, and then launched a vicious, deeply personal extended attack in which they tried to destroy my career and took lethal action against a small struggling company because my wife worked there.

Only take Microsoft on if you don't care about your family, they will get personal, and everything they do is legal, as the state generally agrees with them. See the Mass. ODF affair for example, they've also been allowed to attack charities [timesonline.co.uk] and bribe officials [edri.org] . Frankly, it seems their strong-arm tactics [linux.com] mean most legislators are scared of Microsoft.

Good luck. You'll need it.

Open Source WHAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013819)

For K-12 the OS is less important than the apps.

I'm teaching my 5, 7 and 9 year old how to present and argue for an idea with Google Docs. Today the kids are learning how to model in Sketchup.

They will show presentations on the solar system tonight in Presenter.

All that on an Ubuntu machine upstairs or an XP laptop downstairs accessed through Firefox.

Windows vs Linux? Bah! Linux vs BSD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013823)

I was just musing the other day that the next OS war will likely be between Linux and BSD.

Everyone is starting to wake up to OSS, and Linux is getting all of the attention. I like FreeBSD better, but so many people are not yet exposed to this.

All well, progress is progress.

educational applications might restrict adoption (1)

openSourceGrrl (1110241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013857)

I worked with someone who used to work for a company that installed open source software in K-12. Some issues that have been mentioned already came up, especially with respect to lack of tech savvyness of teachers, but one of the biggest issues was that virtualization was not good enough (this was 4 years ago) to run standard educational software teachers used in the classroom without major annoyances experienced by the teachers.

why schools use name-brands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27013899)

Educators believe in experts and paying for expertise. They want to be able to call someone to fix a problem so they can get on with their job. They don't want to spend hours reading community forums for things to try.

Schools are a bureaucracy. Everyone in a bureaucracy wants to cover their butt with warranties and by using "industry standard" materials, software and equipment.

Last I knew, software and hardware companies provide their products to schools at HUGE discounts, and for FREE in poor districts.

Also, the equipment they are using is NOT their own. Risking failure by using what is generally perceived by the masses as "freebie experimental stuff that isn't good enough to sell," is NOT seen as a risk worth taking. Telling your boss the computer doesn't work, and you were trying out "something I downloaded for free," will not get you a pat on the back for your creativity and willingness to try new things!

Finally, the teachers and students who use the computers are taught how to use them in a classroom setting. The software they BUY usually comes with instructional materials, and it isn't hard to find someone to teach the classes. Usually teachers are sent to conferences to learn the software, then come back and teach the others in the district.

Before you comment, know this: I'm not saying this is right or wrong, I am just telling you the facts of the situation.

Not again... (4, Insightful)

Jjeff1 (636051) | more than 5 years ago | (#27013963)

This pops up on slashdot every couple of months. Let me outline the reasons this is difficult from the perspective of one school. It sounds like you're trying to push forward an unfunded mandate. You're going to get a lot of pushback once people realize what you're trying to do.

- Apps. Educational software is often poorly written, and is written for mac and windows, not linux. One of the k-12 schools I work with has 350 applications, perhaps 330 which would have to be replaced under your plan. The K-5 students don't use openoffice, they use Reader Rabbit, there is no OSS substitute, and forget about making it work under wine. 6-12 use some generic office type apps, but also educational software. Keep in mind that entire curriculum and courses are sometimes tied to an app. You're not just replacing an app, you're asking teachers to re-write their curriculum. We're not just talking about typing software, we need software that keeps track of students performance and can run reports showing progress, comparing classes, etc...

- Hardware. IT budgets in schools are often small. You can get E-Rate money for some servers and network gear, but printers, digital cams, etc... are often old. Will your hardware work with Linux? What about the hardware your teachers use without your knowledge. Can you afford to replace it? If you replace old printers, you'll end up throwing away all your stock of ink, plus the ink you didn't know the teachers were hoarding. Some hardware is directly tied to an app for a class, you'll have to throw it away, you run into the same curriculum issues as with the software.

- Support. You'll need to support it. This means replacing or training your existing (unionized) staff. My experience is that schools typically employee underqualified staff. Clicking on things is rough, editing text files is really rough. If the staff can't handle the new tasks, can you replace them? This is a union and politics problem, and not an easy one.

- Training. You need to retrain teachers and staff. You'll again run into union issues, teachers are only required to do x hours of professional development per year, they simply won't take training classes, no matter how easy you make it. Keep in mind that teachers are continually asked to do more work with the same or less time/money, and you'll be asking them to relearn to do things. You might not be making any friends here.


Here how this does work, it'll take a few years...

First, do your TCO studies, show how there are no licensing issues. Licensing is a huge headache, solving that issue will win you friends it makes rolling out apps faster. Make sure the administration is onboard and working toward your goal. Doing all this is pointless if the superintendent comes back from a conference and decrees that everyone should have application X, which only works under Windows.

Modify your technology plan to require that any purchased software is web based and standards compliant. I've worked with "web based" apps that only work on IE, or require special plugins and etc... You'll end up losing a lot of functionality.

Take existing apps for which there are no good web based substitutes and see if they work with wine.

Roll out both of the above to one or two labs. Run them that way for at least a month. Make sure that your lab has an assigned lab aide, someone who takes ownership of the lab and is physically present when classes are using it. Keep on top of things, people probably won't report problems. When there are problems, solve them quickly.

Ability to lock down/control computers (2, Insightful)

Yizzerin (979112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014063)

When I was in high school, all of the computers were extremely locked down (couldn't do anything except internet + word processing). It sucked. I'm not sure that schools would be willing to adopt a platform unless they'd be able to lock it down similarly (for reasons they'd cite as security, cost, whatever). Presenting up front the ways that you can control the user experience might be a good way to sell open source.

(to be really honest, my initial reaction was: no! open source software can't be locked down! school's will never use that! ... then I thought about it, and realized that someone had probably designed a way to do it )

on SUBJECT. (1)

haggus71 (1051238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27014103)

I see a bunch of you telling the OP why/why not Linux, when she is asking for OPTIONS.

On topic, I know my friend's father, a teacher outside Charlotte, NC, uses Linux in his science class for Lego Mindstorms, showing the kids how to write basic functions and control the robots. These are kids in middle school, in the lower strata, and are a cultural mix. They consider it their favorite class, and have no care whether it is Windows or Linux.

As far as tech support options...any IT worth anything will know enough code to learn Linux quickly enough. Cert classes are on a par, if not cheaper, than most Microsoft courses. If they are any good, you won't have to pay for a new tech just to run Linux. A good tech will spend most of his time outside the GUI anyway.

As far as comments about compatibility with MS, those are issues five years old. I've attended college courses using Open Office(OOo) and just had to select the MS Office XP format after I was done to send assignments. Open Office offers all the options you need for school work, and there are some great options for email management. If your whole school is using OOo, there is no real reason to worry about compatibility issues where your kids are concerned, as all of their work will be done in-house.

Kids aren't like adults. They can be very open-minded, and don't worry about what OS they are using. It's the teacher that makes the class, after all, and using open source gives you a wide variety of tools to use.

Why is this a state issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014163)

What computers/software a school uses should be a school or school district issue, not a state issue.

The only issue for the state could be to mandate that open standards are used for intercommunication, which means that the state shouldn't send out Microsoft Office documents, for example.

Found this in a quick websearch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014169)

http://opensourceschools.org.uk/

It has a link on there to case studies as well.

Preparing for College? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014201)

I work in the IT department for public schools. I know first hand that we HAVE to teach the students with the software and OS that they will most likely be using in college.

If we fail to do this, students come back from a semester in college wondering why they were less prepared than the other students.

School Comity gets word of this and there is them massive changes that need to be made.

It'll never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27014237)

There are far too many entrenched consultants making millions for it to be anything but Windows.
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