I was thinking about the Linux in the Classroom
project. It's on my mind from time to time, and I
decided to type something up.
Name: gLITCh or GLITCh or GLITCH ?
The de facto name for this project is Linux in the
Classroom. I was trying to get a snappy one-word
abbreviation based on the initials. Given the recent
discussion about the use of the name GNU/Linux, I
thought that GLITCH might be good:
GNU Linux In The Classroom (GLITC)
with the H tacked on at the end to make it
I'm not sure I go along with the use of the GNU for
Linux... except maybe in the case of DEbian
In fact, if anything should be prepended to Linux, it
should be Ong/Linux: Ours, Not Gnu's!
I know that "glitch" means "bug", but I thought it
was a nice play on words... like "less" is "more",
glitch is better than FACILITY.
Anyway, the name is of minor importance.
One of our main selling points for Linux to Principals
and Deputy Principals is the FREE alternative to the
(expensive and poor quality) commercial student
administration software package FACILITY (not
"Facilities"). If and when this gets off the ground,
we can present it as being not only FREE - which is
good news to Principals who always have to work with
tight budgets, even if they get funding for IT - not
having to spend thousands(?) on FACILITY would mean
they could reallocate significant funds to other
purposes - but that it is even better than FACILITY,
which is just as important.
To get things off the ground initially, I was thinking
in terms of a Web browser based application. That is,
we focus initially on the functionality of the
database administration back-end, and use a Web
Browser as the front end. This is not as
unprofessional as it seems - in fact, it is the
approach taking by commercial eCommerce solutions.
First of all, it means that a Principal / Deputy would
not need to be using Linux to access the database,
s/he would need is a Web browser, running on any
platform s/he currently uses (obviously, most likely
to be Micro$oft), so we're giving the front-end
user an environment in which s/he is comfortable, as
opposed to expecting him/her to cope with adjusting
Linux AND a new software package. The Web browser
would connect to the database using MySQL or another
RDBMS (I mention MySQL becuase this is what I am
currently as the RDBMS for an eCommerce project with
one of my class groups).
Secondly, it removes the need to install software on
multiple PCs, as any school administrator who needed
access would simply use a Web browser (with password
authentication, of course).
I see this as a wedge into the secondary schools
market. We impress with the superior functionality of
our solution,emphasise that it is made possible FREE
OF CHARGE by using Linux, present them with the
additional benefits of Linux as a network
and internet server (as implemented so impressively
St. Oliver's, and now that they are interested, blow
them away with the examples of Linux in other
classrooms as FREE software, that can do anything
want, all they need do is say what they want, and
we'll do it.
When they are persuaded that Linux is the way to go,
then we can produce a graphical front end, instead of
using a browser.
pagLITCh: Promoting Awareness of GNU Linux In The
Classroom. Even before we have a working replacement
to FACILITY, we could make representations to various
1. Principals and Deputy Principals: last week they
had a general meeting; it would be great to have the
opportunity to present Linux to all Principals and
Deputys at once. We could run it as a side-show, as
done with British Labour Party conferences.
2. Department of Education: Conveniently based here in
Athlone. I imagine the Dept would be all for reducing
costs in schools, thereby making it easier to
implement the government's ideals of making all
secondary students computer literate.
3. Teacher's Associations: I know there exists an an
association for Maths teachers, maybe there is one
teachers of IT. It would be great to work with them,
they are the ones who would ultimately deal with
in the school on a day to day basis.
4. Teaching Union: ASTI? (Association of Secondary
Teacher's in Ireland). Maybe they could help with
promoting the GLITCH project. As I former member, I
got the impression that the ASTI might be sympathetic
to our cause.
5. Local Government Councils: I mention this because I
know members of the local Urban and County Council.
Any political clout we can get might help
(particularly if the makers of FACILITY start getting
upset, which they might - they currently have a
monopoly and they won't like having a rival which is
not only FREE, but is a BETTER product).
6. Enterprise Boards: We would, of course, be a
non-profit organisation (quickly copyrighting GLITCH
under the GPL) but some funding to help with costs
might be useful and having official sanction would be
help further persuade Principals and Deputies that we
are a serious alternaive.
and last, but not least:
7. Individual schools: Nothing beats a face-to-face
demonstration. We could make a presentation to the
Principal/Deputy/IT teacher, outlining the advantages
of Linux, explaining why we're doing this (providing
free software) and then give a detailed presentation
of the Student Admin package, e.g. bring in Linux on
laptop, (this is where the funding would be helpful),
with the Student Admin software installed, show them
how easy it is to access the data via a Web browser -
queries, updates and so on.
We can also point out that our Linux solution could
on as little as a 486, whereas the new version of
FACILITY released last year was very resource hungry
and would not run on the existing hardware PI 66MHz
and meant that the school I was in had to be a new
PC to run it!
I am very serious about (and excited by) this project.
I'm willing to devote significant time to it,
particularly over the summer months (I'll be on
holiday from Athlone Institute of Technology). Our
first step would be to implement the Student Admin
solution, (at least a prototype) then start talking
people about GLITCH.
P.S. Sincere apologies for the formatting problems in
this e-mail. I'm working from home and my Netscape
messenger is misbehaving (getting a message
network connection was refused by the server", any
ideas?) so I'm using yahoo mail.
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