Does anyone know of educational vendors who are supporting Linux-based 1:1 laptop initiatives for schools? This was a question I posted today as a comment to Zachary Saale‘s post, “Linux Is The Future! Or Not?”

You raise good points, Zachary. The low comfort level of many (if not most) college professors with technology is a major obstacle. Professional development is key for any successful 1:1 initiative, and while that is generally provided for K-12 contexts, it’s interesting to consider how many university settings are moving to 1:1 for students but faculty are not being equipped with the guidance, training and support they often need to integrate technology effectively within their instruction.

One of the most practical issues when it comes to Linux in K12 schools is: Who are the vendors willing to help support schools in Linux-based 1:1 initiatives? With stimulus funds now on the table in states for districts to apply and compete to use, I’d love to see some viable vendor support for Linux installations. If companies are out there which will do this in the same way Apple, Dell, or HP would, I’d like to know about them.

Linspire was the main commercial company supporting a Linux distribution for school use that I’ve read about, but they went away in August of 2008. What other vendors are out there marketing and directly supporting Linux distros for education? I’m not sure.

I think a distribution like Sugar, which Sugarlabs distributes (among other sources) is a viable OS option for schools. Designed by OLPC for students, it certainly averts the issue of having 8 text editors that you reference, and provides over 60 educational programs (all free and open source) on top of the OS for students.

There is a school in California (which I can’t remember or grab the link for at this moment) which has rolled out EeePCs for middle school students, running Linux. The machines are setup so if there is a problem, users can hold down a key sequence and the OS will restore to its original settings. THAT is the type of support scenario I think schools need to realistically use Linux as a replacement OS for Windows or Mac.

Besides Sugar, EduBuntu is an education-specific Linux distribution which comes to mind as ideal for 1:1 initiatives. I’m not sure if there are any laptop manufacturers or resellers shipping and supporting EduBuntu or other Linux distributions specifically catering to K-12 1:1 initiatives. Does anyone know of one?

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  • http://www.rschapman.com Robert Chapman

    While I’m not sure about specific 1:1 there is paid support for Edubuntu and dedicated support.

    FTA: “Well Supported – Edubuntu support is available from both the Edubuntu, and larger Ubuntu, communities. Many of the authors of the software included in Edubuntu can be contacted directly via mailing lists and IRC channels, including the Edubuntu developers themselves. There are many forms of support available, on mailing lists, wiki websites, IRC channels and bug trackers. There is also a special support group for using Edubuntu in schools. Should you want paid support, Canonical, who funds Edubuntu and Ubuntu development, can offer assistance, or you could find a local company who offer similar services. With Edubuntu, the choice is yours.

    http://foxyurl.com/4yA

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Thanks for the tip on Canonical, Robert. Do you know of any school districts which have contracted with them to provide support for a K-12 1:1 initiative?

  • http://ehsynchro.blogspot.com/ David McGavock

    I searched and searched for support and finally decided we had to cook up our own solution. We are purchasing 100 netbooks this summer and will be installing Ubuntu on them. We have an image solution so that the computers can be restored when they get messed with. We have set them up so that nothing gets saved on them. Users must save to the server.

    I gave one of my staff permission to work on this in his “spare time”. At one point his progress was stymied by a Worm outbreak on the few Windows machines we have. Ironic :-) I would be happy to put you in touch with my tech. He’s gotten help through IRC channels. I’m sure he’d love to give back.

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