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Re: [OS:N:] Linux in Schools, Need presentation materials/content

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I'm setting up a regional conference on "Linux in Primary Schools"
targeting school systems in Central and Eastern Massachusetts.
If you need another speaker (or whatever), I'm in New Hampshire, so just let me know. I'm a former teacher in both public/private schools, district technology coordinator, and professor and am well versed with Linux and its use in education.

I'm looking for presentation material (Slides, brochures, white
papers, web pages - whatever) and presentation content.
   Attached is an OpenOffice slide show on free software that I've used...

Topics we need content for include:
Make sure you include something on programming in school environments. To me, this is a big item that is often overlooked. Most schools use the VB/VC++ combo (perhaps Java too) -- that curriculum is just weak. VB was never meant to train programmers and it creates a lot of bad habits.

Instead, free software can offer free Logo (for younger kids, if needed/wanted) and Python as an easy first programming language. Python has a full-blown book freely available for it, written by a HS teacher specifically to teach new programmers. Python has a SIG dedicated to advancing it for educational use and it reinforces good habits, and allows both object-oriented and non-OO focuses.

And best of all, since Python is free, students that get into it can take it home and run it (and their newly created Python programs -- GUI or text) on their Macs, Windows, or Linux/Unix systems. They can't do that with VB, and even if they buy academic versions of VB, they won't be able to use that VB for commercial work (the academic version is only restricted to being used for academic work).

Anything about using Linux in a school (or a medium sized business)
I've got a good amount of experience and lots of stories and anecdotal stuff; I'd need more specifics to go into detail...

Anything about Linux legal issues (Why the GPL is NOT a virus etc..)
I think the GPL/virus thing is a huge red herring -- just avoid it. Schools and businesses just don't care about that license subtlety. That clause of the GPL is only of concern to commercial software houses -- they're the ones that have to be concerned with distributing modified code. A typical school is happy if someone uses their modified code (if they modify things at all, and in 99% of the cases they won't touch the source code, let alone redistribute it).

I stress the GPL's freedom from licensing headaches, and note that the GPL "protects future software freedom" by having a clause that requires redistribution of modified source code. If someone is curious about this, I give the example of Microsoft's "pipes" free software screensavers and note that under the GPL Microsoft would have had to release their improvements/changes to those screensavers.

But my basic tactic is not to dwell on this point -- the vast majority of schools don't care about it. I instead spend my time on the educational benefits of free software and the GPL -- the freedom from licensing headaches/counting, freedom from audits, the ability to give the software to excited kids so they can take it home and learn with it.

Training existing tech staff about Linux.
This is a key. IMHO, end users need little or no training. It isn't hard to click on GNOME's foot or KDE's K instead of the start button. OpenOffice is so close to MS Office that little training is needed there. If one knows how to use the web, it doesn't matter what browser you're using.

But techs do need training. The point I drive home is that this is a one-time cost. With MS software you are going to pay for each and every upgrade and that adds up to huge amounts.

I am also looking for people who will be interested in presenting at such a
conference.
   Give me as much lead time as possible and I'd be happy to.

 Regards,
 .
 Randy


Attachment: Free Software.sxi
Description: OpenOffice Impress presentation


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