|FROM ||Dave Williams
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Re: Alt schools demo
|From owner-hangout-desteny-at-mrbrklyn.com Mon May 19 11:32:36 2003
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Subject: [hangout] Re: Alt schools demo
From: Dave Williams
To: Marco Scoffier
X-Mailer: Ximian Evolution 1.2.4
Date: 19 May 2003 11:35:09 -0400
Reply-To: Dave Williams
List: New Yorker GNU Linux Scene
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Hi Marco -
Excellent writeup. The impression I get is that the teachers aren't to
blame for the sad state of technology -- those in charge of supporting
them are ultimately responsible. Which brings up, as I mentioned
previously, the statement I read regarding the quality of employees that
municipal and state/federal government agencies end up with.
I've always had a sense of civic responsibility, and a belief that
earning less money and working in a less glamorous environment with
simple tools and equipment was easily balanced by the chance to do
something useful and beneficial to the community you lived in.
Unfortunately public employment is often a last refuge of the
unemployable, and the excessively bureaucratic culture is the result of
trying to compensate for a lot of people who can't figure out what to do
A good approach might be to gain a groundswell of support among the
teachers and people at the front-lines who have to use these resources.
Maybe they could shame their IT services into providing them with
quality tools and support, once they realize it's out there. Not to
mention the benefit of saving millions of dollars that could be better
spent elsewhere. Approaching the administrative level at the same time
would also be useful, if only to identify at least one ally in the
hierarchy who might take up the banner of supporting the local economy
and saving money (even if it's just a career move on their part). Of
course that kind of politics may backfire if the person falls out of
Marketing NYLXS programs (and Free Software in general) could be done
effectively from the angle of quality, accountability, cost savings,
long-term benefits to teachers and students, and holding the department
to a higher standard of service while providing university-level
resources. There has never been a better time to take advantage of
opportunities in technology, and the school system deserves better than
an IT Department full of lazy, self-satisfied and short-sited
functionaries who allow these opportunities to pass them by.
Not to mention that this could be an opportunity to use the old cliche
"What about the children?" to good advantage!
On Sun, 2003-05-18 at 11:07, Marco Scoffier wrote:
> This is not a full write up yet.
> NYLXS attendees: Me, Adam Kosmin, Joe Maffia, Rene Ferrer
> Our contact: Rob Marino
> The demo went well I think.
> But there are many things we could do better.
> The audience weren't decision makers, but rather teachers struggling to
> stay abreast of technology they don't understand, and over which they
> have no control.
> We were given about two 20min slots, so it was difficult to do much more
> than rally the troops, which I think we did. We were certainly one of
> the more memorable presentations, I think.
> However, it was extremely difficult to do anything in the way of a hands
> on experience, or even a simple walk through of the applications
> available. The computer lab was locked down I-macs, meaning the knoppix
> disks we had could not be used by the audience.
> I think it would be a wise investment for the group to buy a laptop for
> Selso has a vendor for a used IBM Thinkpad PII 450 for $380
> Other offers suggestions are welcome.
> That said I sitting through the rest of the day. There was not one demo
> for which we do not have a _better_ free software alternative.
> I was most suprised by the number of teachers who had found slash server
> like websites to host their classes. Four different presentations were
> just an advertisement for some web company
> --nicenet.org (is University run and seems the most stable)
> --egia.com? ($49 a year because they offer the bsdgames like hangman in
> java-applets which didn't run on the Imacs)
> --fremilla (something? lost a year of the teacher's work)
> --something trove (which rob tells me is a mod_perl based solution
> running on Apache somewhere, but not in the school.)
> The reliance on external companies, or web-service portals shocked me
> because the teachers are imputting their entire lesson plans through
> a web form and relying on the continued well being of a distant company
> offering a "free as in beer" service over the net, which seems to me to
> be an incredibly precarious way of running classes. Why can't the Board
> of Ed offer these types of systems in house, to ensure the safety of the
> teacher's data. We are talking daily lesson plans entered into a
> web-form. One teacher had all of last years pages disappear b/c he did
> not update them frequently enough !!!!!
> Other memorable moments:
> the teacher who decided he would teach "the network" rather than "the
> internet" ??? He had the students work in a shared directory. Only
> problem was that malicious students could alter and remove other
> students work!!!! I had no idea there were no group permissions on
> Windows XP.
> Also a woman using Imovie took several minutes, yes minutes to animate 7
> pictures. Imovie decided it had to render them first, so we all watched
> a progress bar, while I was thinking > display image_[1-7].jpg what in
> the world has to be rendered?
> The guy who teaches SQL by using an Oracle class is definitely
> rethinking his strategy.
> And on and on.
> There are so many ways free-software could improve the technological
> situation in the public schools, they could not possibly fit in an
> I think, now armed with more examples, having a better idea what types
> of problems the teachers are having, we need to find who is higher up,
> and get a rapid demonstration going. Perhaps Rob or Camilla Saly can
> help out, they are both strong proponents.
> The slash server and the teacher training at Concord are both green
> lights. I also spoke with a group of interested art-teachers who really
> need the GIMP.
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