[discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 17, Issue 4

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! :-)
 
Allow me to introduce myself.  Ed Montgomery, linux teacher of the past 5 years at Monarch Park Collegiate in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
 
As you know, recently the linux lab at my school was dismantled.  I have strongly stated that I think this decision is harmful to the present and future education, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities for students.

 
I will post general comments from time to time to a blog I have started at: cdneducation.blogspot.com
 
Sydney Weidman wrote:> "the student must have the same system at school, from classroom to> classroom, and from home">> I would be interested to hear what, if any, pedagogical evidence exists
> to support such an assumption.  Given the schools don't supply free computers to the home, I don'tsee how that is possible if by "system" they mean computing platform(hardware/software combination).
  It is possible to do this with multi-platform applications likeOpenOffice.org.  If this is what they mean, then I agree:  Being able toguarantee that for no additional cost to the parent a student can run
the same office suite in all classrooms and at the moment is a goodthing, and as far as I can see the only option that can do that isOpenOffice.org.  OpenOffice.org is available on more computing platforms
and in more human languages than any other office suite in existence. 
I have indeed argued the point that students, parents, teachers, etc. are able to freely share any of the software used in the linux lab, unlike the CTMI/MS EULA type labs in schools.> In fact, I would
> bet that the effect of technological diversity would be positive in many> areas.It is impossible to avoid diversity.  Whatever the computing platformis today, it will be different tomorrow. 

Precisely.  I believe that students should be provided with choice, options, new experiences, etc, rather than an M$ corporate image of bureaucrat determined software. Also considerably more secure, since M$ related network problems have resulted in thousands of students being unable to even login to computers when mass infections, etc. take place.  Further, huge resources are being used to maintain these systems, including millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase anti-virus licenses, software licenses of various sorts, etc.
  The issue with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) comes down toa multi-year initiative called the "Classroom Technology MigrationInitiative", or CTMI for short.   This initiative was launched years
ago, with various schools slowly coming online.  According to  Jill Worthy, Superintendent of Education, South West 4,TDSB:"In the first year, a number of schools were involved in a pilot phase
to identify implementation issues and, in each of the past four years,more schools have been added based on available resources. Due to itssize, the CTMI project will require several school years to complete, at
which time it is estimated some 60,000 classroom computers, 3000 networkprinters, and over 300,000 teacher/student accounts will be setup on theTDSB computer domain. CTMI is the largest project of its type anywhere
in Canada." 
Yes, it is the largest M$ project of its type anywhere in Canada...I think that speaks for it all...however, I have pointed out the Indiana Access Project to TDSB trustees recently.  This is a project that uses linux computers (Linspire based) to provide EVERY high school student, in EVERY class, in EVERY high school, in the entire state of Indiana!  300,000 computers for 300,000 students,
i.e. a one computer to one student computer ratio.  Compare with the TDSB of 10 students to 1 computer ratio.  Further, this linux initiative has been ongoing for some time and already has several thousand linux computers installed and in use.  And apparently, costs 70% less than the comparable M$ "solution!"  When you compare the Indiana Access Project to the TDSB CTMI project, one rapidly sees that the TDSB CTMI system is quite appalling in terms of cost and access.

It would indeed be interesting to find out how many millions of taxpayer dollars are being used to support CTMI, www.osapac.org, etc.
(I had a long phone conversation with Ms. Worthy, and she followed upwith a written letter where she also introduced me to the head of ITservices for TDSB).  The problem that Mr. Montgomery had with his Linux lab is fallout
from that initiative, with other teachers not interested in learningabout other than the board-provided and supported computing facilities.  The initiative involved migrating all computing to Windows 2000 based
computers.   While that might have seemed like a reasonable decision 5years ago when it was made, the reality is that computing moves onward.A heterogeneous environment must be supported, whether the "foreign"
computing platform is Apple MacOS-X, any distribution of Linux, orMicrosoft Vista.> development of people who speak multiple languages. Wouldn't it make> sense to suppose that diversity of technological tools has a similar
> impact?  All the most important arguments are curriculum arguments.   Thedecision made by the TDSB were entirely at an administrative level thatdid not seem to include curriculum arguments at all.
  The other obvious question for me is this:  If Toronto made theselarge decisions more than 4 years ago, how is it that some of us areonly hearing about it now?   Did the Toronto LUG know about this?
  A Google search for CTMI finds a few teachers and studentscomplaining, and a few schools being migrated, but nothing at all fromeither the school board or the larger FLOSS community.   How did thismassive initiative entirely slip below our radar?  Don't we have members
of the FLOSS community inside nearly every organization?  We need to get proactive and not wait for failures.  The generalpublic doesn't understand the value of open computing, and without thisknowledge it is hard to get adequate parental and community pressure on
the schools.   While industry insiders realize that many employers willskip over resumes that don't mention FLOSS, Linux or Unix, this fact isnot known by many in the educational community.> But, as some
> teachers have pointed out, schools are no longer in the business of> stimulating, engaging, or otherwise serving the needs of students. They> now exist solely to serve the needs of bureaucrats, and the last thing a
> bureaucrat wants is diversity or change.  The bureaucrats that make up a school board were largely allclassroom teachers at one point.   Most teachers are also unaware of thevariety of issues in computing.   Most are like the general public who
have been duped into believing that software is a "product" that can be"manufactured".  Once you believe this you will obviously purchase from"the most successful manufacturer" like you would any other product, and
the most successful software manufacturer is clearly Microsoft.  That software is a set of rules that a computer obeys, and think ofmanufacturing software makes about as much sense as manufacturing
consent (tip of hat to Noam Chomsky), is not well understood in our society.  My personal goal with the school boards is to somehow position CLUEto being a trusted adviser whenever there is a "next round" of upgrades
to the schools.  This will mean that we need to have a team on theground with each school board trying to get their foot in the door.   Ibelieve we need to do this very strategically, always being seen asbeing helpful and not critical.   We need to show how better decisions
can be made, and not focus on the bad decisions of the past. 
Agreed.  I am all for opening more linux labs, and happyto do so! :-)  Further, I have mentioned to the principal that the computers I was using had feature s that the CTMI computers did not.  For example, my students and I often used USB drives from the front mounted USB ports for portable storage.  As well, I had multi-language input for use by students and myself, including the ability to input in French, Japanese, Chinese, etc., which CTMI systems do not have.
 
Hence, I continue to lobby for a linux lab! :-)------------------------------_______________________________________________discuss mailing listdiscuss@cluecan.ca
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