Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

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Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

Postby Gunmetal_Ghoul on Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:01 am

I just started teachers' orientation today for our Christian school and am very excited to be able to be teaching the fifth graders this year. During our morning meeting our school principal proposed that we buy five 'new' laptops to be used by our faculty and high school students, and I was appointed to help out w/ the basic IT work @ the school. I am very pleased to have been chosen for the job, and would like to see if F/OSS can be used to help in the education of our children and have our school save some money. I have been trying to see what deals I could find online to save money on buying our computers, and these are the first two ideas I considered: $300 Dells w/ Ubuntu (the price then raised to $514!) or getting some older refurbished Thinkpads from [url]usanotebook.com[/url] w/ a 5% educational discount. Is there any other ways I could find affordable laptops I need to consider?

I have also shared my proposal to the principal to allow our students to try Linux and F/OSS and see how they would do, and I will begin a project to get a nice Linux box in the classroom. The real problem is, many of the veteran teachers @ our school aren't really on par w/ their own computer skills and Linux may not be for them, so do you think there are any precautions I need to take if I were to try to introduce them to Linux? Also, what educational software does Linux have to offer to help develop children academically?
Life's too short to keep things in their "out-of-the-box" condition....
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Re: Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

Postby emorrp1 on Tue Jul 21, 2009 3:26 am

I haven't any idea about the hardware, but in any conversion tactic, I'd say do it bit by bit. Get them using FOSS equivalents on Windows that they're going to be using under Linux e.g. Firefox, openoffice etc. Then it'll be a relatively smooth changeover, with them not haven't to learn very much at all (note that there's loads of info available from Google). Check out the edubuntu package for some educational software, all the way from simple maths games up to detailed chemical analysis.
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Re: Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

Postby DrHu on Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:41 am

Gunmetal_Ghoul wrote:I was appointed to help out w/ the basic IT work @ the school. I am very pleased to have been chosen for the job, and would like to see if F/OSS can be used to help in the education of our children and have our school save some money

First of all, Congratulations!

Gunmetal_Ghoul wrote:The real problem is, many of the veteran teachers @ our school aren't really on par w/ their own computer skills and Linux may not be for them, so do you think there are any precautions I need to take if I were to try to introduce them to Linux?

Hardware is what you can get, just don't shortchange Linux, thinking you are saving anything
--it is really no different than organizing a new windows license/hardware purchase
--the cost comparison will favor the Linux solutions, except for the mythologizing about unknown/abstract costs of training and other hindrances that will be placed in the path..

do you think there are any precautions I need to take...
Yes, teachers (traditionally), and even new ones have certain notions
  • We have to know as much or more than our students
    --because why?, because that is what is expected of us and of ourselves !
  • If it is not windows, which we have heard about, which the school uses for all administrative operations, the parents will complain, that we aren't teaching anything relevant to their children's eduction for the new world order ?
  • It is probably important to frame the conversation presentation,referring to misconceptions about Linux; the mythologies being presented
    http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/myths.html
    http://www.linfo.org/linux_myths.html
  • I wouldn't discount their concerns/issues out of hand, but I would demonstrate that they are misconstruing the reality of Linux and the inevitable vs Microsoft confusions..

We have to know as much or more than our students
If this becomes the teachers fixed position, as the authority in the classroom, as the expert, as the one with the knowledge transmitting it to the empty minds of students, that would be the real handicap
--if the teacher(s) is open minded, more collegial, more interested in what the kids can learn for themselves, it will be so much less of an issue..

The kids will have zero issues with Linux, (thingmagig) OS, in fact with no technology that is presented to them, they will just try all the buttons and procedures given, maybe even passing beyond the constraints of classroom lessons/instructions
Last edited by DrHu on Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

Postby Gunmetal_Ghoul on Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:51 am

I ran a live CD environment of Mint 7 on one of our schools Dell Vostro laptops w/ a projector and I do think they were wowed by its look and feel. I also showed them some how I can download educational software through the command line and use the office suite and how it was all free of charge. All of the younger teachers, very much my peers, all had a good handle of how it worked and appreciated accordingly, but the non-technical veteran teachers still treated the affair as a show of the magical box known as the PC. You gotta love all the oohs and aahs though! The principal had told me that we will invest in buying brand new laptops since refurbished ones wouldn't last in the hands of somewhat careless students. He noted that refurbs would be fine in the hands of more responsible adults and I agree. I also want to get a decent Linux box in the classroom, but the following thread has got my hopes down...

Cant Boot, System Beep...
http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=29902
Life's too short to keep things in their "out-of-the-box" condition....
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Re: Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

Postby DrHu on Fri Jul 24, 2009 3:01 am

Gunmetal_Ghoul wrote:The principal had told me that we will invest in buying brand new laptops since refurbished ones wouldn't last in the hands...
I also want to get a decent Linux box in the classroom, but the following thread has got my hopes down...
The principal had told me that we will invest in buying brand new laptops
--so you are good to go, now it is likely that a new desktop would be even cheaper than a new laptop (notebook), or at least a comparable price

but the following thread has got my hopes down...
Porquoi?, you will be replacing those older computers with newer hardware in the classrooms
Agh! you quote yourself
I had a problem, so there must be a problem

I don't want to mince words, saying you might have caused a problem, maybe the machine was too old to use etc...,
No the problem was that you caused a hardware issue with a computer you worked on
--don't worry about that, it can happen to anyone..
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Re: Finding Affordable Laptops & F/OSS In Education...

Postby Gunmetal_Ghoul on Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:25 pm

We ordered our new laptops and I asked the principal if I could install Linux Mint 7 on one of the older Dell Vostro laptops for our high schoolers. He was very impressed w/ the live environment and thought I should give it a try. I also installed Ubuntu 8.04 on my classroom's desktop (I'm still having issues w/ the monitor's display). Some of the students are really interested in learning GIMP and playing the educational games. There are a few problems I'm coming across that I can't get resolved by this Monday but overall Ifell very excited for this school year.
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