Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm Back!

It's hard to believe it's been almost exactly a year since I've written about my personal adventure with Linux. But, since the last entry was done at FOSSED 2007 and this is the eve of FOSSED 2008 perhaps it is appropriate.

The main reason for the long hiatus has been discouragement, frustration, and plain old stubbornness. I was stubborn about not writing because I didn't want to write anything negative about Free and Open Source Software and Linux. I was discouraged and frustrated because my school did decide to go with either Edubuntu or K12LTSP and thin clients. They invested in very cool, sleek monitors, keyboards, and microprocessors. However the school tech person did not want to have anything to do with it. And what should have been an exciting and empowering time for technology became a major challenge - personally and professionally.

The short version is that with lots of parent volunteers as well as Open Source Community volunteers we got 18 classrooms with 5 student machines and 1 teacher machine set up along with a complete lab, and machines for art, music, Title I, etc.

Thanks to a parent, Josh Peterson, we got Edubuntu up and running. The version wasn't stable enough and required more tech support than Josh could give us so we went back to what we used in the pilot program - K12LTSP. It was more stable and was familiar to the grade 1-3 students and the K-2 teachers.

We were able to also access another volunteer (and hopefully soon to be official support (read:paid*) ) from Jeff Wheeler of Hermon. Jeff is a kind, quiet man who did amazing things for us and our Open Source system and asked only for a good cup of coffee in return. *Our school system is negotiating a service contract for IT/IS services from the Hermon school district.

So, now I'm back at Gould Academy in Bethel. I have to admit I had second thoughts about attending (and presenting) this year. Did I really want to spend 3 days translating geekish into metaphors that I could grasp? Did I really have something valuable to tell these ubergeeks? (And I truly am in awe of the sheer brilliance that geeks of all sorts have and I have the utmost respect for those that fall into the category of geek.) Tonight I sat around a table in a local pub, listening, conversing, and listening some more. Yes, there were conversations that swirled around me that just didn't completely connect for me - "BASH-script" "Lock down the database" "Go in the back door through Port 445 and the SSH doesn't recognize it" "We'll put it up on the FTP server, it has a web interface." But underneath the unfamiliar language was a passion for helping kids and teachers be the very best using the tools of today to create the ideas for the future. And that passion is what draws me, a mere classroom teacher, to this conference.

1 comment:

Michael Richards said...

Deb,

Good to have your voice back in the conversation. It is my personal belief that people like you keep the Open Source Community honest because if the end-user doesn't understand then the project will never reach it's full potential.

Have fun at FOSSED and please share your experiences for those of us who couldn't make it.

BTW, make sure your new first grade teacher is along for the ride. She is a quick learner. I'm sad that we lost her but glad she found a good home.