Will on 14 May 2012 07:24:15 -0700

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [PLUG] Can FOSS help school districts in trouble?

I will be forwarding this message to the MakeLV mailing list. In the last meeting one of the members of the hacker/maker space up there works a lot with writing teaching grants and working with K-12 teachers with his position at the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown and has expressed a need for open hardware for science classes. I believe both open hardware and FOSS should work together since they share a common goal of increasing the capabilities of the classroom while reducing the costs.  

As far as assisting or having an open house, remember most schools are so heavily entrenched with Microsoft only IT staff that any and all solutions may need to be spoken in terms of alternatives of all Microsoft products and also must have simple migration. As far as demonstrations, showing how to use simple open hardware (in which one person at Da Vinci Science Center is trying to figure out) with the power of such FOSS packages like SciPy may prove a simple and valuable tool for convincing science classrooms to move to FOSS solutions. An arduino connected to an Ubuntu machine that has SciPy can replace up to $200,000 in licensing fee's (MatLab in particular), save over $500 in costs for sensors (with the Arduino), and a windows license for example. 

I am willing to assist with this venture anyway I can and like I mentioned I will be forwarding this message to the MakeLV mailing list and see if collaboration with the open hardware initiative for science classrooms. Before helping out with a school district and trying to promote any solution, is there a way that we can look at some schools and do an audit of their network before making any suggestions? I know in the Lehigh Valley I can speak with a few school districts given my previous employment, however I cannot imagine what to expect from Philadelphia and surrounding public schools. 


On Sun, May 13, 2012 at 7:21 PM, Kirk Beideman <beidemank@comcast.net> wrote:
Just one of the many areas FOSS can have a technical and financial impact.  This is a topic I have thought about many times and have even, in the course of several job interviews, tried to promote to some school districts.

One obstacle is the many misconceptions and perceived shortcomings of FOSS. Many school districts think about increased training, assurance and lack of quality support channels.  I know of at least one school district that has spent near millions on large software package that has yet to live up to expectations, yet are satisfied that training is readily available and 24 hour support.

Yes we need to start small, and yes it is more than a technical issue. But an effort needs to be given because the rewards are many.  The education system needs to be..well..educated.

-Kirk B

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

-------- Original message --------
Subject: [PLUG] Can FOSS help school districts in trouble?
From: "K.S. Bhaskar" <bhaskar@bhaskars.com>
To: Philadelphia Linux User's Group Discussion List <plug@lists.phillylinux.org>

Our local school district is in trouble.  No, I am not thinking of their financial woes right now, although money certainly is at the heart of this evil.  When money was less scarce, they acquired with pride the latest technology - proprietary of course - some of it because the IT deparment makes selections on autopilot, some of it useful but not essential, and some of it downright wasteful and misleading.  Now that money is tight, the school district is considering demoting senior teachers instead of taking a long, hard look at the IT budget.  So, the trouble our school district is in is ongoing woolly-headed decision making by the administration: they are still spending more money on IT than they need.

It being better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, I would like to help showcase free / open source software in K12 education, to control IT costs without compromising educational performance - indeed perhaps even to enhance the educational experience since FOSS does not set artificial boundaries as to what one can learn.

I think it makes sense to start with a single school, too impoverished to even think about serious IT spending, and then move to a suburban school district and then to the school district for a city ... on our way to world domination, of course!  This is a journey, not a destination.

As much as solving technical issues, we need to document and publicize.  So, from the start, we need to get the press involved.  We need to blog about it and we need to be able to reach out to the public, Government and others to talk about it as it goes.  So we need people with talent beyond technical skills.

To that end, this post is to see who shares my interest in such an endeavor.  Thank you very much.

-- Bhaskar

Windows does to computers what smoking does to humans

Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --        http://www.phillylinux.org
Announcements - http://lists.phillylinux.org/mailman/listinfo/plug-announce
General Discussion  --   http://lists.phillylinux.org/mailman/listinfo/plug

Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --        http://www.phillylinux.org
Announcements - http://lists.phillylinux.org/mailman/listinfo/plug-announce
General Discussion  --   http://lists.phillylinux.org/mailman/listinfo/plug