from the when-'for-the-children'-actually-means-something dept
Thanks to I Love Ubuntu, we have at least one answer answer. Robert Litt, a 6th grade teacher from Alameda County, faced just such a predicament. He needed to provide his students with computers but had no money and little support from the administration. So he set about building the computer lab his students needed using donated computers and the Ubuntu Linux operating system.
Why go with Ubuntu over the much more common Windows? Cost.
Most of the computers’ problems could be fixed by wiping the disks and reinstalling the operating system—but buying new software for every donated computer would be prohibitively expensive. So Robert began to research more affordable options. An acquaintance at the Alameda County Computer Recyclers suggested he use a free operating system, such as GNU/Linux.This is one of the key issues of those hit with budget constraints. Computers can be expensive and having a proprietary operating system such as Windows can add to the cost. By going the Linux route, Robert was able to stick to his $0 budget and still provide the neccesary computers for the students. His early success in bringing in 18 computers led to additional excitement from both students and staff. He was then able to expand the computer lab to 70 computers through these means.
This success in building a quality lab has expanded the ability of the teachers at the school to teach meaningful computer skills to the students.
“The digital divide is growing in a hidden statistic,” Robert says, “the actual teaching of technology in a meaningful way.” He shows students how to do math on spreadsheets, how to make simple websites, how to put together slide presentations, all on free software. These are the computer skills that, students tell him, they are later expected simply to know.By going this route, Robert was party to keeping the cost of education down, something that many people are trying to accomplish. It also brings in a fresh approach to teaching in the digital age. By stepping outside of his comfort zone when it comes to computers, Robert was able to expand his skill set. He now has an opportunity to share that new knowledge and skill with the students and hopefully expand the way in which they interact with technology. Something these kids and and future kids will be doing far more frequently.