A wiki of resources for this session is available from the Connecting and Collaborating conference on April 20, 2007 in Holland, Michigan. I also recorded this session with Steve’s permission and will be posting it here as a podcast soon. My notes from Steve’s session:

I was a 4th grade teacher, at some point I discovered that “I was a geek” so I came out of the closet with that
– I am now the tech director for Zeeland Public Schools (Michigan)

I got into the free software movement because I wanted to share Internet access in our home

This is a BIGGER deal than Windows versus Macintosh discussions
– there are needs we all have as educators that we need to fill
– are there ways we can do that with no cost?

There is nothing free in life, everything has some strings attached
Think about cooking and recipies: how you customize and change the recepie versus just being able to consume something or build it yourself from scratch

Free as in beer, free as in speech
– those are the two
– “Free as in pizza, free as in speech” are modifications some teachers have made for school contexts

Did a live boot from a CD for Edubuntu
– haven’t tweaked anything on those computers at all yet, just turned them on

Think about this as a CD

AbiWord Word Processor is a free Microsoft Clone
– also at portableapps.com
– lots that can run from your flash drive

If you boot from a Live CD, new programs will actually install to RAM

Play the application finder game!
1- instant messenge with a friend
2- find the mass of francium
3- create a 3 slide presentation about the wonders of open source software
4- plot a function on a chart
5- make a triangle with a turtle
6- build a methane molecule by playing a game
7- navigate a boat through locks using a game packed suite
8- display 78 cents on your screen using a kid-friendly painting program
9- display the big dipper using a planetarium
10- calculate a result in a scientific calculator (note: it must be scientific)


I didn’t take more notes in this session, but you can view Steve’s own extensive notes and provided links from the session for more info. GREAT session, and great perspectives on learning as well as educational technology. I wish we had more technology directors and other school leaders with Steve’s enthusiasm as well as vision for open-source tools in education. I appreciated and resonated with his view that this isn’t a “Mac versus Windows” discussion. This is fundamentally about the software tools and capabilities we need to provide for ALL learners, and the most affordable / sensible / powerful ways to provide them.

Besides having fun playing on a LiveCD version of EduBuntu (which I hadn’t done before at length) I was quite enthused with TuxPaint, a free “KidPix-like” game for all platforms that is free / open-source.

Every school should have TuxPaint installed on its computers, for learners of all ages. It’s powerful and free. What is holding back the implementation of software solutions like TuxPaint in many schools is not just knowledge and awareness of the availability of these tools, but a mindset that fallaciously believes schools should only run software programs that are either commercial, from Redmond, or both. Our mindsets and the mindsets of many of our leaders are holding us back in many cases more than anything else.

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