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On Apr 17, 2007, at 7:15 AM, fedora-education-list-request@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
FIrst off, it is exciting that you are asking this question. The main obstacle I find getting people to consider Open Source solutions for schools is, as you know, the 'who am I going to call?' issue. Any initiative from Red Hat should help along this line.
Here are a few of quick thoughts I wanted to share with you:
First, one place within Red Hat you may want to look is at the Red Hat Academy. I think that is a hugely under-used resource in the K-12 space. The pricing is problematic for small high schools but the potential is amazing. Think about applying that model to K12LTSP and you might solve two problems at once. First, if Red Hat developed a similar packaged solution and created a K12LTSP certification program, that might deal with the legitimacy issue. Furthermore, if such a program were then designed with high school students in mind, the school could grow its own support staff. I think schools would be very interested in such a 21st century, flat-world, digital vocational program. I am in discussions with our local schools about this kind of a program, pointing out that this would be a career track for kids that aren't going to a 4 year college but want to stay in town and make a decent living. However, I haven't had much luck getting support from the RH Academy team (thought they have been very polite) because small, rural high schools are not their target market.
Computer skills training relates a bit to my second point regarding another issue you discussed:
If I read this correctly, this is often stated as 'computers should be fully integrated into the curriculum and not taught as a special subject'. Maybe it is just a pet peeve but I think the pendulum needs to swing back into the middle on this topic. It shouldn't be an either/or situation. Computers should be seemlessly integrated into the curriculum AND we should also make sure, in some way, we teach ABOUT computers. Computers should be used transparently in math, social studies, english, etc AND there should be a computer course offered that talks about website creation, media literacy, programming, cybersafety, databases, spamming, phishing, and a variety of other subjects that are not in the domain of math, history or english teachers. In some of the schools I am working with, they don't want 'any computer training just integrated curriculum.' Given the pervasive nature of computers in society, the general student body should have some brief exposure to core concepts (pardon the pun). And like art, music, chemistry, and politics, there are some students who will find this is an area that really lights them up and it is the school's responsibility to provide that opportunity to this subset of students. Red Hat could use it considerable creative talent to make these materials world class.
Another idea I have been pursuing is a road show for schools. I can talk forever about the value of FOSS software but when people sit down and use it for 10 minutes their eyes light up. Red Hat might consider helping with sponsorship of such a road show, both with hardware purchases but perhaps more importantly with the production of leave-behind materials.
So how does Red Hat make money in the education space?
-Charge for a RHA-like K12LTSP certification program, partner with Dell as Jim K. suggests and charge for a K12LTSP turn-key product that is installed and maintained by your certified technicians - which ideally would be students in that very high school. If these kids can earn a money with their certification, they will pay you $100/yr to keep it current.
-Charge a nominal fee for a cutting edge computer curriculum that could be taught by a savvy tech coordinator. These material could have 'sponsored by' logo attribution. Ultimately, schools will not be huge revenue source but as MS, Apple and VISA knows, getting mind share in high school pays off in college and as they move into the work force. If they are only exposed to the Shadowman in college or as they enter the workforce, it may be too late.
- Design a RHEL licensing program that as more flexibility for contractors working with schools. I originally paid for RHEL for some of my school clients but ended up switching to Fedora because I couldn't make the licensing work for one-off installs. And the money wasn't the problem! I would have paid more because of the legitimacy that the RH logo provided.
Once again, this is great that you are asking the question.
White Nitro, LLC
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