After learning the basics of Open Source Software and installing Ubuntu on old school laptops and working with them, students had enough background knowledge to evaluate the impacts of open source software adoption in k-12 schools.

Using the article How to Get Started with Open Source in k12, the students worked in groups to complete a jigsaw activity (more information in the blog post).

Here is a list of more schools using Ubuntu around the world: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Education/UbuntuSchools
Project: Community Computers is a great example of how open source software is used to refurbish old computers to reduce E-Waste.

Shared Notes:


Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Technical Information
Open source – Zimbra email system; running Ubuntu on Dell servers
Hardware – Dell servers; Macintosh client computers
Switched from Microsoft Office to Open Office
Implemented MySQL – open source database
Switched from Windows server to Linux server
Plone – OS CMS, replaced Dreamweaver for making department websites
LMS Moodle
OpenOffice replaced Microsoft Office
Gimp replaced Photoshop
Scribus replaced Publisher
Firefox replaced IE
ITalc is an open source software that enables teachers to monitor what students are doing on the school computers.
Stakeholders
Teachers
Students
IT departments
Revolution Linux
Teachers
Students
IT departments
Alchemy
Teachers
Students
IT departments
Revolution Linux
Implementation Strategy
- Hired Revolution Linux to help design, plan, and implement going Linux for server.
- Surveyed teachers to see what computers were used for. Mostly web/internet, word processing, and presentations.
- Proposed to teachers Linux-based computers ($300) and buying more computers with the savings.
- Started with one school and are now moving to other schools slowly, as the schools’ software need upgrades.
- In the future, they will implement OpenLDAP, and OSS solution for having one sign on for multiple websites and subscriptions.
- Macs still available for high end functions, but Ubuntu computers available for basic functions.
- Hired an outside vendor, Alchemy, to help set up Moodle for such a large organization
- Hired Revolution Linux to convert its printer server, file server, CMS, and LMS all to open source Ubuntu servers.
- Ubuntu desktop clients primarily used for word processing or internet, but many elementary schools are mostly open source.
- Desktop software has been converted to web-based tools, which allow users to access it regardless of OS.
- As they get more developed, they hire Revolution Linux less often and solve problems in-house.
Positives/Successes
- One school added 16 library computers and 40 netbooks with savings
- One school put in a wireless network with the savings.
- As teachers and students use Open Office on the Linux computers, they are finding that there aren’t many compatibility issues.
- There are fewer funding approvals and licensing fees for going with OSS.
- It is possible to experiment with software, as there is not a financial commitment. They have tried many things they never would have been able to if it weren’t free.
- Huge financial savings.
- Saving the district $100,000/yr in licensing costs and $100,000 in hardware savings.
- For word processing, web browsing, and other basics, most students don’t notice or care that it is different, as long as it works.
Negatives/Challenges
- No CD/DVD drives, which teachers should know ahead of time
- IT staff needed to find web-based alternatives to the software they normally ran on CDs.
- Staff was concerned about file compatibility when going to Open Office
- B2evolution and WordPress were not successful. They were not very popular and it would have been overwhelming for the staff if they had been.
- Support is lacking when you are with OSS. You have not hired a company to help you troubleshoot problems.
- Little training is offered to teachers. Professional development is how to integrate technology into lessons rather than how to use the software.
- Teachers who are already confused by technology might be further confused by new, open source tools that might be buggy.
- Some software will only work for Windows.