On Sat, 2007-02-17 at 15:35 +0000, Shane wrote:
> My attitude to this is that
> 1) The ECDL should be renamed MSCDL...that is MicroSoft Computer Driving
> License, as that is all that is taught. The first step would be to have
> Openoffice as the main application.
In fairness to the ECDL folk they are also geared up to facilitate
testing through StarOffice, Openoffice and a Mac office suite (can't
remember the name).
We are currently using StarOffice for ECDL - perhaps the only school in
Ireland. Students use StarOffice on Windows and OpenOffice on OS X and
Linux thin clients to do homework and practice for the ECDL tests.
Unfortunately, pretty much all the courseware for ECDL is MS Office
based except for one shining light from Ireland. OpenApp and the
Blackrock Education Centre have produced an excellent ECDL manual for
StarOffice that could easily be used for openoffice. Windows based but a
start nonetheless. http://www.becpublishing.com/book/ECDL/TFESO8
I don't think we can blame ECDL for the lack of support for non MS
Office ECDL resources.
> 2) Schools should be encouraged to use a netboot/ thin(or fat)
> client/application server system, thereby vastly extending the useful
> life of the client computers. With local swap space, these clients
> could easily see a 20 year life, albeit, with more frequent blasts of
> compressed air to allow them to keep cool !.
Schools lack resources and skills. A secondary school with say 500
students will have an ICT Cordinator to look after computers. An ICT
Cordinator is in fact a full time teacher who may have circa 60 minutes
a week allocated from their timetable to the ICT role. In that 60
minutes they are expected to manage a network used by 500 students and
about 30-40 teachers. Often these are people with little or no computer
training who will, if they are lucky, have a budget of about 2-3 grand a
year to do everything from buying ink for the printers, purchasing new
hardware, repairs etc. Also the teacher will never know from one year to
the next whether there will be any money available the following year.
It is simply an impossible task. There have been no grants for buying
computers for schools since 2002-2003. Forgive the rant but I've just
arrived here from the CESI annual conference (Computer Education Society
of Irelend) where these things are in the forefront of teachers minds.
I'm conscious that I am spoiled rotten in comparison to most, working in
a private school with decent funding and lots of time to sort out IT
I was in a school today where the French teacher was trying, with no
success, to upgrade the computers in his language lab from Win 98 to XP
because the software he wants to use won't run on 98. He hasn't seen a
new computer in his room for 4 years. Use Linux ?? forget it, the
software he would need is simply not available on Linux. Even if it was
available running decent quality synchronised sound and video on the
thin client is still a black art, especially if you want to throw in the
facility for the student to record his own voice.
Linux can have a place in education, particularly for the grunt work of
word processing, email (including this one), internet, spreadsheets etc.
It can also do more interesting stuff like web design, working with
graphics etc. For better or worse, this covers a huge percentage of
what happens at second level and much of this is perfectly suited to
thin client linux - Indeed I'm on a thin client now, but we also have a
lot of windows and apple computers - I want my students to be
comfortable using any operating system, open to using any application
that will get the job done but be dependent on none, MS, Apple, Red Hat
There might be some sense in schools going for a thin client windows
solution over a fat client windows one though it would take a few years
to pay for itself due to the cost of citrix/MS licences on top of the
hardware - schools, lacking IT knowledge as they do, would be very slow
to adopt that solution. It is in place in some schools - eg the big
wireless thin client project connecting 9 schools in Dublin
http://www.hermesnet.ie/index.htm sponsored by our favourite provider...
MS, among others.
>> I look after the IT needs of 2 primary schools, but only one of them has
> any interest in deviating from the simplest route.
I do some work for a local primary school too. I haven't suggested linux
- they have enough to cope with and as there isn't anyone in the school
to sort out any problems they might have day to day I wouldn't be giving
them a solution, I would be offering a hurdle - even if they would be
better off in the long run.
> They certainly, are
> open to trying alternatives. Is there anyone out there who could assist
> me in that pursuit ?
Good to hear - I wouldn't suggest replacing their existing windows
machines where the machines are a decent spec. but I would suggest
adding Linux thin client to the mix.
I would suggest a small thin client network offering clearly defined
goals - internet, word processing and the educational stuff that carries
the awful name of edutainment. The distribution I use here is k12ltsp
which is basically Fedora Core 6 with ltsp and educational stuff added
into the mix. It is preconfigured to run ltsp clients pretty much out of
the box - download available here http://www.k12ltsp.org/download.html
Run it using old pcs that they reckon are no use any more and show them
what can be done to breathe new life into them. I can give you a big
noisy old Compaq server that should drive about 10 clients. quad 500MHz
xeon processors and 1GB ram.
Show the students how to do the "important" things - run games and
access the internet. Yes I am being serious here, the kids will be
quicker to adopt it than the teachers but if the teachers see that it
works and is reliable then they will be happy to use it, or should I say
they will be happy to let the students use it.
You may need to do some magic to fit into the existing network as the
router, if it is supplied through HEANet is likely to be a DHCP server
for the network. The HEANet folk will probably help you on this as there
are some of them on this list. Happy to help out myself if you are not
to far from the centre of civilisation ie Kildare.
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