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Blue Skies Thread, Open Source Schools' Miles Berry offers a radical response to the ICT funding cuts in General; The article typically empties a whole bag o'cats amongst the pigeons but on scrutiny raises some good points, others such ...
  1. #106

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    The article typically empties a whole bag o'cats amongst the pigeons but on scrutiny raises some good points, others such as own student laptops -are just mad)

    Open Source operating systems have been sneaking into many schools for a while now in the guise of low end Netbooks. While OK for browser based software use and those students/staff au fait with OpenOffice it's no much use for anything else in most scenarios leaving the netbooks sat in the trolley.

    ICT teaching staff on the whole can craft lessons regardess but when the non-ICT teachers visit the equipment with a class, what do they do if they've never seen Linux?

    Unfortunately many schools have issues finding affordable support staff with the necessary Open source skills (particularly when using open source Server OS's) this is due to the inevitable market bias towards Microsoft products. Old School Unix & Linux guys (like my brother) will claim there's nothing difficult in implimenting and supporting Open source but they have an unrealistic idea about the level of 'technical' know-how of most IT Support professionals. I know many such people who have never used a command line in their lives let alone live and breath Bash.

    As for Penfold & dhicks "pupils shoul(d) be learning skills not software" I fully agree but they also need to leave school and be able to answer 'Yes' in an interview when they are asked can you use windows XP/Vista/7 or Office 2003,2007 etc,. Unfortunately (again) the majority of industry still uses predominantly Microsoft in the workplace.

    As an IT Pro - I would love to be able to help out with the networks, servers etc,. at the primary/junior school where my daughters go but the local Council would throw their toys out of their pram. Many Council based ICT support services are dug in like ticks with their management emitting sharp intakes of breath at the mere suggestion from a headteacher that they could find cheaper, more effective alternatives elsewhere. Many HT's don't even realise that they can go elsewhere for their support.

    Jon
    Lawson Broadhead IT Consultancy
    Last edited by Ric_; 25th July 2010 at 02:30 PM. Reason: Link removed

  2. #107
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    ICT teaching staff on the whole can craft lessons regardess but when the non-ICT teachers visit the equipment with a class, what do they do if they've never seen Linux?
    I think people think to hard about this, we all know that member of staff who isn't good with ICT, but I think it is the attitude towards trying something knew that holds staff back, not their skills.

    An example. We had a gentleman teacher who had worked here for his entire career, he retired a couple of year ago.... he didn't like computers much and didn't really use them, but when we put one in each classroom (running Linux) he shocked us. He helped other members of staff, got really into using openoffice and never ever complained.

    Another example. When we first started out we only installed Linux in the main computer suites. This included a cross-curricular suite which held 50 computers. People booked the suite....the bookings didn't go down when it moved to Linux, and I never ever had someone come and ask for help. They just used it.

    You got to remember a locked down linux client is just like a locked down windows client, there is only so much a teacher can do on that machine, and so you are minimising any problems that will come with change.

    The start menu is in the same place, the applications menu is in the same place, the 'my computer' is on the desktop, the shares are in the 'my computer', the memory stick pop-ups on the desktop, the dvd pops up a dvd player when placed in the drive, when saving work it goes to the same place as normal.

    Everything is identical.
    Last edited by linuxgirlie; 23rd July 2010 at 02:49 PM.

  3. 2 Thanks to linuxgirlie:

    GrumbleDook (23rd July 2010), Ric_ (25th July 2010)

  4. #108

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    @jonlawsb

    Now, I think that kids bringing their own devices in could be a really good move ... but there are issues about segregation of the network to protect data, and a few other things. It also relies on a decently managed wireless network ... often run on proprietary code and very much a closed shop!

    And I have to defend council (and in-house) IT Teams to some extent. It is lovely that some volunteers will come in and help, but would you like some strange person coming in and doing stuff on a network you run (and might still be running sections of) and making changes without knowing the impact? Having seen it in a few schools (and after having to mediate between parties involved) you find the volunteer has done something that has been brilliant, innovative, cost saving, but completely made teh office machines unable to complete statutory returns, almost risking the school losing out on funds. It is a careful balance.

  5. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlawsb View Post
    ICT teaching staff on the whole can craft lessons regardess but when the non-ICT teachers visit the equipment with a class, what do they do if they've never seen Linux?
    Not something I'd necerssarily bank on. I'm sure most ICT teachers would be fine but I've met one or two who have problems if 'My Computer' is on the desktop instead of in the start menu (or vice versa). I'd bet the majority of ICT teachers are not ICT specialists. So far I've met ex-Geography, ex-Business Studies and ex-DT teachers, oh and an ex-RAF pilot teaching ICT.

    As for Penfold & dhicks "pupils shoul(d) be learning skills not software" I fully agree but they also need to leave school and be able to answer 'Yes' in an interview when they are asked can you use windows XP/Vista/7 or Office 2003,2007 etc,. Unfortunately (again) the majority of industry still uses predominantly Microsoft in the workplace.
    The fact is I'm pretty sure I could sit down in front of BeOS, having never really used it before, and fire up their equivalant of a word processor and get something out of it. I'm sure I can get the basics out of Lotus, Word Perfect, Open Office or Microsoft Word. That is what transferable skills mean. It's doesn't matter what OS/Office suite combo I learned on, or have used in the past I can comfortably answer yes at an interview that I can use Windows/Office any version.

    Besides, has as been argued countless times before - Whatever OS/Office combo they learn on now in high school (be it FOSS or MS or Other or some wierd combination) - what ever they had been using would be out of date by the time they come to apply for their first job anyway.

    MS have a good presentation on this - 'Shift Happens'. One of the slides reads "A students starting a three year ICT university course today will be taught things in year 1 that are completely out of date by the time they enter year 3". That's why tranferable skills and not product knowledge is where it really matters, and why it shouldn't matter in the slightlest which Office suite I put on my network, yet it does (matter).
    Quote Originally Posted by linuxgirlie View Post
    You got to remember a locked down linux client is just like a locked down windows client, there is only so much a teacher can do on that machine, and so you are minimising any problems that will come with change.

    The start menu is in the same place, the applications menu is in the same place, the 'my computer' is on the desktop, the shares are in the 'my computer', the memory stick pop-ups on the desktop, the dvd pops up a dvd player when placed in the drive, when saving work it goes to the same place as normal.

    Everything is identical.
    It's a nice ideal and if I had the skill set to correctly set this up it may just work - until maths or science present me with another 2bit Windows only program they want installed

    I'd like to see this sort of thing work in outreach places like the library, or the 4/5 computer in our food tech area, or art - where a web browser, open office and maybe GiMP are all that is needed.
    Last edited by tmcd35; 23rd July 2010 at 03:34 PM.

  6. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlawsb View Post
    others such as own student laptops -are just mad) . . . .
    I really don't see why that suggestion is such a mad idea? Yes it's different from the norm, and requires careful administration and a very well designed system to accomodate them, but it's not such a daft idea to allow students to bring in and use their own devices on the school system. We are in the process of designing a new network system for our academy at the moment as part of our new building, and one of the key features of this system is the abilitiy to allow student owed devices onto the system and to allow the access to the resources that the network system has to offer.

    When the idea was first proposed I was quite against it and argued the point fearcely, but when I actually examined why I was against it, it was nothing to do with the pinciple of it, it was purely because I thought it would cause me and my team more work. Thing is if you take that as a reason for being against an idea it's actually not a very good one so I quickly changed my stance. All the other aspects such as security, virus risk, charging the devices, insurance, providing the services to the device, what heppens if it doesn't work, who's responsible for the maintenance etc. can all be addressed, so there really is no good reason why students own devices can't be incorporated into school networks, as long as it is done in a correct and proper manner in my opinion.

    Mike.

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    Agree with you to an extent maniac. When this is done in a properly planned way, with proper investment in the network infrastructure to allow for this and for appropriate staffing levels and policies put in place then I've no objections and actually think it's a positive move. When it's done as a cost cutting measure with no forethought about how it's going to be supported or providing the investment in infrastructure and staffing to support it, then it just isn't going to work.

  8. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLibrarian View Post
    ...snip...
    The next thing to ask (or maybe should have considered this first as authentication happens before Group Policy) what replaces Active Directory? Again how good of a replacement is it?

    Is there a WSUS equivalent?

    Would we need anti-virus for the Linux machines?
    ...snip...
    What's the replacement for RDP / Remote Help? VNC I suppose for RDP, but remote help? I know VNC can be used for remote help too, however I do not know if VNC can be made to ask the users permission before sharing the screen.
    ...snip...
    * LDAP (AD is actually a implemtation of it )
    * A Local repository server, Pushing them out is a another matter.
    * Yes, Every OS has viruses just windows is more popular so it gets attacked more, Clamav for example.
    * There is a pile of different VNC implementations, there will one that does what you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by monkeyx View Post
    I would say yes to this as if using Samba then you will have access to Windows systems. There are free and commercial AV systems for Linux.
    There are viruses on every OS, just lesser used ones (such as linux based) are attacked less, sticking your fingers in your ears is not a good idea, All systems that have access to the web via a direct connection or indirect connection (such as residing on a network where there is, or that network bridges to one) should have anti virus clients on them.
    Last edited by p858snake; 25th July 2010 at 06:45 AM.

  9. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by p858snake View Post
    * LDAP (AD is actually a implemtation of it )
    Active Directory is not an implimentation of LDAP - LDAP is a protocol for querying Directory Services, Active Directory is the Microsoft version of Directory services.

    LDAP itself is a tool not Directory Service.

    Jon

    Lawson Broadhead IT Consultancy
    Last edited by Ric_; 25th July 2010 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Link removed

  10. #114

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    Quote Originally Posted by linuxgirlie View Post
    I think people think to hard about this, we all know that member of staff who isn't good with ICT, but I think it is the attitude towards trying something knew that holds staff back, not their skills.
    A member of staff getting used to Linux over time is one thing but how about that same member of staff feeling confident enough to run a lesson on such systems when they are still learning themselves? How do they field those student questions that they can't answer or handle that one student who uses
    Ubuntu daily and takes pleasure in running rings around them?

    I'm sure that member of staff benefitted heavily from having a Linux specialist such as yourself about but most schools are not so lucky - hence my comments about recruiting issues.


    Jon

    Lawson Broadhead IT Consultancy
    Last edited by Ric_; 25th July 2010 at 02:29 PM.

  11. #115

    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlawsb View Post
    Active Directory is not an implimentation of LDAP - LDAP is a protocol for querying Directory Services, Active Directory is the Microsoft version of Directory services.

    LDAP itself is a tool not Directory Service.
    Bit of semantics there, Active directory does implement an LDAP protocol to access the directory information and although it is extended with many attributes specific to Windows it is still very close in structure to something like Open Directory which is also LDAP based. You can even extend the schema of AD to support the Mac OD extentions if you really want to and Samba offers support for Windows machines to authenticate against it instead of a AD server.

    From other such discussions on slashdot and here the main missing element that is almost always sighted is Group Policy to easily centrally push settings. This is an area where they are well out in front, Apple's OD is gaining some of the same features but from all reports that I have heard they are less stable and less predictable than GPO.

    Sure you can do the same thing on any *nix distribution with a mountain of scripts but with the Windows variant there is a standard way of doing it that gets the job done and does not require the same amount of work to make your machines behave the same way and change quickly to suit your configuration needs.

    A chunk of the stuff in the article does have merit but I wonder if the person who wrote it has ever worked in or observed a school.

  12. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlawsb View Post
    ....raises some good points, others such as own student laptops -are just mad)
    Quote Originally Posted by maniac View Post
    I really don't see why that suggestion is such a mad idea? Yes it's different from the norm, and requires careful administration and a very well designed system to accomodate them......
    The whole point of the excercise was to cut costs! The added hardware, software and administration required would be phenomenal!

    You would require an massively beefed up Wireless network to handle the extra bandwidth requirements - £££££'s

    Many schools do not have existing network hardware capable of VLANing and those that do will frequently have mixtures of manufacturers/802.1q implimentations forcing upgrades/replacements. = £££££'s

    To allow access to internal non-web resources you would require not only internal network filtering capable of stateful packet inspection but also extensive application layer filtering = £££££££££'s

    You would require AV inspection and MAC tagging for each machine brought into school and that could be a phone, PDA, Laptop or netbook. Many students may have at least 2-3 of those.More hands-on admin. = £££££'s

    You would lose the control you have through Directory services (AD or otherwise) in controlling access, software installation & update/patch management. More hands-on admin. = £££££'s

    You would not be able to accept all those devices onto your Acive Directory (as if you wanted too) because most will not have OS's capable of joining a domain/AD.

    With the exception of browsing - teaching staff could not hope to plan lessons using particular software because of the massive differences in availablilty/version/fixes/updates etc,.

    Many students simply don't have a laptop/netbook of their own.

    Those that do may not even want to bring it into school - opening up their private teenage internet activities to potential scrutiny.

    Parents/guardians may not even want their children to take an expensive items like laptops to school for fear of damage/theft.

    Considering the numbers of mobile phone muggings - I hate to consider the student safety once a school is known to have students walking to/from school with laptops.

    I worked at a large secondary (in a comparatively affluent area) that opened up such a scheme to the Sixth Form. Out of around 200 students - we only had a dozen or so laptops brought in.

    Yes - the Charging, insurance etc,. could easily be taken care of with disclaimers that have to be signed by the student/parent/guardian etc,. but that is the tip of the very large and very costly iceberg.


    Jon

    Lawson Broadhead IT Consultancy

  13. #117


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    Quote Originally Posted by jonlawsb View Post
    A member of staff getting used to Linux over time is one thing but how about that same member of staff feeling confident enough to run a lesson on such systems when they are still learning themselves? How do they field those student questions that they can't answer or handle that one student who uses
    Ubuntu daily and takes pleasure in running rings around them?

    I'm sure that member of staff benefitted heavily from having a Linux specialist such as yourself about but most schools are not so lucky - hence my comments about recruiting issues.


    Jon

    Lawson Broadhead IT Consultancy
    The same can be said about any OS/app. We used to run rings round the NM/head of IT on the windows systems. What about mac, do we ban them from schools on the same logic? Everyone has to learn an OS at one stage, just because for most people the first one they learned happened to be windows it doesnt make it any less or more difficult. Well saying that i bet most mac users would say their OS is the "best" as it is the easiest to learn.

    One of my mates asked me to put ubuntu on his laptop as he is fed up of windows 7. He was a "failure" at school with his highest grade being a D. Why is he able to learn new OSes but teachers can't? Are you really trying to infer that he is more intelligent than the teachers? Or is it simply that he wants to learn? On that i must agree with linuxgirlie.

    Times change. The first OS i learned was Amstrad Basic, I was aged 2. At primary school i encountered acorns and BBCs, then at secondary Windows 95, and DOS. After that obviously the different versions of Windows, but also OSX and many different *nix flavours. I would certainly argue that Basic and Windows are far more different from each other than a GUI version of linux and WinXP is. Im sure if it was up to some people we would all still be running Acorns.

    Windows hasn't always been the most popular OS, much like MS office hasn't always been the most popular office app (remember lotus?). So why is it that all of a sudden "if it isnt windows and MS office" people can't tranfer their skills? They certainly did in the past, or else how did windows and MS office become the most widespread?
    Last edited by j17sparky; 25th July 2010 at 07:51 PM.

  14. #118
    p858snake's Avatar
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    As for students bringing in their own laptops, I'm not a fan of this from the point of view of:
    * Possible bullying, for example if bobby brown can't afford can't afford the newest/latest tech compared to john smith. (Same arguments as to why schools should have uniforms apply here)
    * Increased risk to the network health, Although there are ways to mitigate this:
    **Commercial Products (such as Cisco Clean Access comes to mind, Server 2008 - Network Access Protection (Don't know how well it works))
    **Separate Wireless (and have something that links into it such as a linux box to bridge onto the wired network)
    * Liability issues
    ** Student X's laptop got broken/hacked/virus ridden whilst on school property etc
    ** PAT Testing/Test 'n Tag requirements
    * Issues if it breaks and the student doesn't have access to a computer and needs it for class etc
    * Software/OS compatibility issues.
    ** Software licensing issues
    ***Home licensed software but used in the school etc
    ** Student X has app why but teacher has Y for marking
    ** App Costs
    ***Some companies do offer reduced/free students copies which is nice. Autodesk springs to mind for the expensive side of things for giving students free stuff, Microsoft and Adobe do special student rates
    *** Trying to standardize on Open Source/Free apps
    Last edited by p858snake; 26th July 2010 at 07:39 AM.

  15. #119

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p858snake View Post
    As for students bringing in their own laptops, I'm not a fan of this from the point of view of:
    I think it's a fundatmentally good idea, it's the set up costs that can be a bit prohibative. On a straight forward cost benefit analysis I think the benefits out way the costs, affordability is another thing. None of your issues are insumountable

    * Possible bullying, for example if bobby brown can't afford can't afford the newest/latest tech compared to john smith. (Same arguments as to why schools should have uniforms apply here)
    This is the saddist reason of all for not doing something. Let's get something straight, like it or not bullying is a part of school life. It's upto parents, teachers and peer preasure to stamp down on it where ever it happens. Using it as an excuse not to do something that is potenitially beneficial to the majority is just plan wrong and I hope no school decides agains this solution based on these lines.

    * Increased risk to the network health, Although there are ways to mitigate this:
    The best solutions I've heard of involve using managed wifi hotspots with multiple SSIDS and VLANs. The unsecure laptops then can gain internet access only through that. With internet access you then get e-mail, VLE, possibly Web-Dav to personal documents, and possibly printer access. The rest of your network remains segragated and secure.

    ** Student X's laptop got broken/hacked/virus ridden whilst on school property etc
    Well this is a school policy issue. I'd be quiet clearly saying - as with mobile phones - they are the parents/students responsibility, end of story.

    ** PAT Testing/Test 'n Tag requirements
    Interesting, hadn't thought of this. But again not a totally insurmountable problem if needed.

    * Issues if it breaks and the student doesn't have access to a computer and needs it for class etc
    I would never advocate relying on students own equipment in place of school provided equipment. What next, we insist that students bring their own bunson burners to science lessons?
    If a student needs computer access then the ICT suites, etc should be open to them. Regardless to whether or not they brought their own laptop in with them.

    ** Software licensing issues
    Parents/Students responsibility?

    ** Student X has app why but teacher has Y for marking
    This is the list of open/closed source app the school provide on their systems. If you use something else please save in a compatible format or print/pdf print the final work for submission - thank you.

  16. #120
    p858snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    This is the saddist reason of all for not doing something. Let's get something straight, like it or not bullying is a part of school life. It's upto parents, teachers and peer preasure to stamp down on it where ever it happens. Using it as an excuse not to do something that is potenitially beneficial to the majority is just plan wrong and I hope no school decides agains this solution based on these lines.
    Personaly, I don't think the school should be attempting to cause even more bullying with schemes like this, I know people that went to non uniform schools and I know the types of bullying they experienced it themselves and teachers don't always know about and some students are scared to tell others about it due to risk of further bullying. And before people say "omg it's X's fault for not telling a teacher", let me point out that growing up during school I had speech and learning disabilities and know what these peoples experience on what is sometimes a daily occurrence during their schooling. That is why I don't approve of further segregating students based on family income status to buy the equipment that they need for their schooling.



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