Friday, August 11, 2006

Two Great Open Source Interviews from South Africa and Indiana

It's been a fun day! I started very early in order to be able to catch Hilton Theunissen in South Africa, who has led the tuXlab project to install Linux thin-client in 200 schools. Then late in the day Mike Huffman and Laura Taylor provided insight into the Indiana Affordable Classroom Computers for Every Secondary Student (ACCESS) program.

These are both fascinating interviews, and along with the interview with the folks from Atlanta Public Schools last week, they are confirming a pattern that deserves some real exploration: high-priced, high-maintenance computers have led to relatively little actual student time in front of them (35 minutes a week per student in the case of Indiana, at a cost of $100 million a year!); low-cost computer solutions provide significantly more actual time in front of computers for students, and the result is dramatic engagement by students and teachers, and significant academic success (some measured and some expected).

This is interesting to me, since I've lately been very aware that while the Windows, Linux, and Mac folks fight the battle of which OS is best, there is still a more fundamental and hotly-debated question with regard to computers in education: do they actually help students do better for all the money that is spent on them? What Atlanta and Indiana seem to show is that because it has been so costly to have computers in schools, they haven't been truly available enough for teachers or students to integrate their use into the curriculum. But in programs that are dedicated to cost-effectively getting the computers into the classrooms in sufficient quantity to impact education, the results are significant and exciting. And the "cost effective" part belongs to Linux and Open Source...

MP3 FORMAT
Hilton / tuXlabs
Huffman & Taylor / Indiana

OGG FORMAT
Hilton / tuXlabs
Huffman & Taylor / Indiana

This Thursday night (August 17), it's time to hear from "our favorite Moodler," Michelle Moore from remote-Learner.net. The one-hour interview will be broadcast live at 5:00 pm PDT / 8:00 pm EDT, and will also be available afterwards in recorded form. Links to join the live Skypecast, to leave questions, or to learn more are at www.K12OpenSource.com/Interviews.

The following weeks I'll be interviewing Victoria Davis (Westwood Schools) and Adam Frey (Wikispaces) about Wikis, and Ruth Lutes and Ragavan Srinivasan (both from HP) about Open Source Licensing. To suggest future interview topics, or to contribute to the wiki, visit K12OpenSource.com.

Today was also my first day flying solo--which included doing the sound editing and uploading... Wow. Hope you like them. From now on it should be a little easier!
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