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Old 01-18-2010, 06:05 PM
David Groos
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

The following is copied from a post I just put on my GCoS project blog.* I'm posting it there, not just on these list serves, as a place where others beyond our community can encounter these ideas.* This post is the result of more than a year of pondering my role, and that of the Teacher, in Edubuntu I hope it doesn't misrepresent or marginalize anyone--please let me know if it does.* Instead, I hope it to bring to the surface structural aspects of our community not often discussed, as well as provide some new ideas.* Anyway, here's the post...


I'm not sure who I'm quoting from the Edubuntu list, but in some heated
discussion, someone said, "Edubuntu is not software, it's a
Community!". That stuck with me. Sure, it is also software and it has
been the focus of the community, but still the best thing about
Edubuntu is the community. Programmers, advocates in education, and
advocates outside of education are key groups that make up this
community. And, what a nice community: a community of volunteers and
intellects and people who choose to work with children! All groups play
separate and also extensively interwoven roles; each group is critical
for the success of the whole.

Disclaimer: This post is not meant
to be complete!* It doesn't focus on the critical roles of the
students, of the supporters of the technology environment, of the
evangelists, of the family-based users of Edubuntu, of the
philanthropic supporters of open source software nor of the
district-level technology leadership.* Nonetheless, it addresses a part
of the puzzle.

First and foremost, there are programmers who may
also be part of an educational enterprise. Some programmers get paid to
develop but most don't; all seem to be volunteers to some degree as all
develop the software beyond their work day. These programmers create
the software and the documentation and often the wiki 'help pages'.
Also, they are a backbone of support via the user list serve and irc
for those who are the implementers of the software in the classroom.
They are often the visionaries who know the software-context (ie the
larger code environment and established social network) and lead the
way to the future products. In conclusion, programmers are the
producers of products, the producers of knowledge, the providers of
help.

Teachers and other implementers of the software are the
'front-line' members of the community. They are often employed in this
role though some are not. They all seem to be volunteers in the sense
that successfully using Edubuntu requires work beyond their regular
work day. These people provider meaning for the community--they are the
ones who create the environment where students actually use the fruit
of the labor of the programmers. In the communication channels of the
community, the list-serves and the irc, these people (especially those
most-novice users of the software) are mainly present when seeking help
with software and hardware problems. Occasionally, these implementers
of the software (I'll call them 'teachers' though it is broader than
that group) give ideas for greater functionality and identify bugs in
the software, providing a service to the programmers, however they
usually represent themselves as consumers of the products provided by
the programmers.

I'm seeing 2 issues and some possible solutions.*

The first issue is that teachers are mainly present in the community as consumers of resources in the current communication channels of the community.
in other words, it is rare that programmers 'see' the hundreds, the
thousands of students in the classes who benefit from what they have
made!

Additionally, the professional knowledge of teachers is not
shared, not developed in our community. How often do you see in the irc
or list-serves questions about how to focus students attention on
learning the main functionality of tuxtype, for example?


I'm NOT proposing that these questions enter into our current
communication channels! What we have currently seem especially well
suited for exactly what they are doing at this time. I'm proposing that
teachers use 3 new channels of communication:

a new irc eg "#edubuntu-in-action",

a list-serve for teaching in Edubuntu-empowered classrooms where teaching challenges can be addressed,

and an already existent community resource where lesson ideas can be created, co-developed, and reused ie http://LeMill.net.
It is obvious how these additional channels would benefit the
implementers of Edubuntu software, the 'teachers'. And, by improving
the use of Edubuntu in the classroom it would indirectly benefit the
community as a whole but it could also provide direct utility to the
programmers by providing a window into the often invisible and private
environment where the fruits of their labors are actually realized,
where the resultant joys and needs can be more directly seen.


I'm also proposing a new 'member' that is, a new group of members in
our community.* I think our community would be more powerful, exciting
and diverse if we also had educational researchers here, providing
their interests and resources.* The Finnish educational research team
that created the LeMill software which powers the site mentioned above
and other awesome open source software also produced this quote: "In
educational research, software is the hypothesis".* In other words,
software plays a critical role in their work.* We could use their (any
interested ed researcher) ideas and knowledge and possible financial
resources, they could use our ideas, knowledge and implementation of
their ideas.* And again, together we would be stronger.



I recently saw a comment on #edubuntu: "I love publicly funded
[software] development!"* I've also seen it said on the list-serves
that, when major leadership of the Edubuntu community was provided by a
financially-based enterprise (Canonical), the leadership and
participation by volunteers atrophied.* So, I've really got no idea how
public software development monies could be positively infused into our
community but at least the possibility is there.* As a teacher who is
not more than 2 years away from also becoming an educational
researcher, I see much possible synergy between researchers and the
current Edubuntu community.



What do you think?* Should we expand our community with additional
channels of communication specifically designed for 'teachers'?* Should
we seek to invite educational researchers into our community?* Any
proposal such as this is fraught with the dangers and benefits of
change.* What are the risks and what are the benefits as you see them?

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Old 01-18-2010, 06:05 PM
David Groos
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

The following is copied from a post I just put on my GCoS project blog.* I'm posting it there, not just on these list serves, as a place where others beyond our community can encounter these ideas.* This post is the result of more than a year of pondering my role, and that of the Teacher, in Edubuntu I hope it doesn't misrepresent or marginalize anyone--please let me know if it does.* Instead, I hope it to bring to the surface structural aspects of our community not often discussed, as well as provide some new ideas.* Anyway, here's the post...


I'm not sure who I'm quoting from the Edubuntu list, but in some heated
discussion, someone said, "Edubuntu is not software, it's a
Community!". That stuck with me. Sure, it is also software and it has
been the focus of the community, but still the best thing about
Edubuntu is the community. Programmers, advocates in education, and
advocates outside of education are key groups that make up this
community. And, what a nice community: a community of volunteers and
intellects and people who choose to work with children! All groups play
separate and also extensively interwoven roles; each group is critical
for the success of the whole.

Disclaimer: This post is not meant
to be complete!* It doesn't focus on the critical roles of the
students, of the supporters of the technology environment, of the
evangelists, of the family-based users of Edubuntu, of the
philanthropic supporters of open source software nor of the
district-level technology leadership.* Nonetheless, it addresses a part
of the puzzle.

First and foremost, there are programmers who may
also be part of an educational enterprise. Some programmers get paid to
develop but most don't; all seem to be volunteers to some degree as all
develop the software beyond their work day. These programmers create
the software and the documentation and often the wiki 'help pages'.
Also, they are a backbone of support via the user list serve and irc
for those who are the implementers of the software in the classroom.
They are often the visionaries who know the software-context (ie the
larger code environment and established social network) and lead the
way to the future products. In conclusion, programmers are the
producers of products, the producers of knowledge, the providers of
help.

Teachers and other implementers of the software are the
'front-line' members of the community. They are often employed in this
role though some are not. They all seem to be volunteers in the sense
that successfully using Edubuntu requires work beyond their regular
work day. These people provider meaning for the community--they are the
ones who create the environment where students actually use the fruit
of the labor of the programmers. In the communication channels of the
community, the list-serves and the irc, these people (especially those
most-novice users of the software) are mainly present when seeking help
with software and hardware problems. Occasionally, these implementers
of the software (I'll call them 'teachers' though it is broader than
that group) give ideas for greater functionality and identify bugs in
the software, providing a service to the programmers, however they
usually represent themselves as consumers of the products provided by
the programmers.

I'm seeing 2 issues and some possible solutions.*

The first issue is that teachers are mainly present in the community as consumers of resources in the current communication channels of the community.
in other words, it is rare that programmers 'see' the hundreds, the
thousands of students in the classes who benefit from what they have
made!

Additionally, the professional knowledge of teachers is not
shared, not developed in our community. How often do you see in the irc
or list-serves questions about how to focus students attention on
learning the main functionality of tuxtype, for example?


I'm NOT proposing that these questions enter into our current
communication channels! What we have currently seem especially well
suited for exactly what they are doing at this time. I'm proposing that
teachers use 3 new channels of communication:

a new irc eg "#edubuntu-in-action",

a list-serve for teaching in Edubuntu-empowered classrooms where teaching challenges can be addressed,

and an already existent community resource where lesson ideas can be created, co-developed, and reused ie http://LeMill.net.
It is obvious how these additional channels would benefit the
implementers of Edubuntu software, the 'teachers'. And, by improving
the use of Edubuntu in the classroom it would indirectly benefit the
community as a whole but it could also provide direct utility to the
programmers by providing a window into the often invisible and private
environment where the fruits of their labors are actually realized,
where the resultant joys and needs can be more directly seen.


I'm also proposing a new 'member' that is, a new group of members in
our community.* I think our community would be more powerful, exciting
and diverse if we also had educational researchers here, providing
their interests and resources.* The Finnish educational research team
that created the LeMill software which powers the site mentioned above
and other awesome open source software also produced this quote: "In
educational research, software is the hypothesis".* In other words,
software plays a critical role in their work.* We could use their (any
interested ed researcher) ideas and knowledge and possible financial
resources, they could use our ideas, knowledge and implementation of
their ideas.* And again, together we would be stronger.



I recently saw a comment on #edubuntu: "I love publicly funded
[software] development!"* I've also seen it said on the list-serves
that, when major leadership of the Edubuntu community was provided by a
financially-based enterprise (Canonical), the leadership and
participation by volunteers atrophied.* So, I've really got no idea how
public software development monies could be positively infused into our
community but at least the possibility is there.* As a teacher who is
not more than 2 years away from also becoming an educational
researcher, I see much possible synergy between researchers and the
current Edubuntu community.



What do you think?* Should we expand our community with additional
channels of communication specifically designed for 'teachers'?* Should
we seek to invite educational researchers into our community?* Any
proposal such as this is fraught with the dangers and benefits of
change.* What are the risks and what are the benefits as you see them?

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Old 01-18-2010, 11:41 PM
Jordan Erickson
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

David Groos wrote:
> What do you think? Should we expand our community with additional
> channels of communication specifically designed for 'teachers'?
Yes.

> Should we seek to invite educational researchers into our community?
Of course!

> Any proposal such as this is fraught with the dangers and benefits
> of change. What are the risks and what are the benefits as you see them?

I personally see nothing wrong with widening the exposure and
collaboration of the Edubuntu community, as long as it is done in an
effective and consistent manner. =)

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Old 01-19-2010, 12:45 AM
Scott Balneaves
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 01:05:47PM -0600, David Groos wrote:

> I'm not sure who I'm quoting from the Edubuntu list, but in some heated
> discussion, someone said, "Edubuntu is not software, it's a Community!".

Sounds like one of my or LaserJock's mantras

> 1. The first issue is that teachers are mainly present in the community
> as consumers of resources *in the current communication channels of the
> community.* in other words, it is rare that programmers 'see' the
> hundreds, the thousands of students in the classes who benefit from what
> they have made!

This is, of course, one of the perennial problems of Free Software. People
want a tool that they can use. They don't want to become part of a "movement"
or a "community", they just want something that can help them teach.

This is certainly the niche that Commercial Software fills. Companies have
money to hire people with educational experience on staff to help them design
the programs that they sell. Teacher gives money, gets product, everything is
cool.

Except for the fact that these days, teachers don't have a lot of money.

Unfortunately (or we'd argue, fortunately) we operate differently. We don't
need money, as most of us do this for enjoyment, or as part of other goals, or
out of the volunteering spirit. However, we need the teachers to invest
something too: time. Time to explain to us what they need, time to test what
we write, time to deploy it in the classroom.

Anything that we can do to convince educators to invest this time is a good
thing.

> 2. Additionally, the professional knowledge of teachers is not shared,
> not developed in our community. How often do you see in the irc or
> list-serves questions about how to focus students attention on learning the
> main functionality of tuxtype, for example?

I think Frog and Owl at http://frogandowl.org/ (Plug for HedgeMage) is trying
to solve this problem.

> 1. a new irc eg "#edubuntu-in-action",

This one I'm not so sure of. I'm certainly more than happy to try this and
see, but I'd want to be in both #edubuntu and #edubuntu-in-action. I suspect
most teachers would also like, if they had the opportunity/time, to be in
contact with the edubuntu devs. Which begs the question: if the people in
#edubuntu want to hear from #edubuntu-in-action, and the people in
#edubuntu-in-action want the help of the people in #edubuntu, why not all just
hang out in the same channel.

However, it doesn't cost anything to start another channel, so I personally
have no objection to having the two.

> 2. a list-serve for teaching in Edubuntu-empowered classrooms where
> teaching challenges can be addressed,

I think we have this already, don't we? The "ubuntu-education" list?

> 3. and an already existent community resource where lesson ideas can be
> created, co-developed, and reused ie http://LeMill.net<http://lemill.net/>

Even better would be to develop some lessons underneath moodle, or the like,
and actually DISTRIBUTE this stuff on the edubuntu dvd.

> I recently saw a comment on #edubuntu: "I love publicly funded [software]
> development!" I've also seen it said on the list-serves that, when major
> leadership of the Edubuntu community was provided by a financially-based
> enterprise (Canonical), the leadership and participation by volunteers
> atrophied.

No offense to Ollie, but he was really fighting a losing battle. Impossible to
acheive and unrealistic goals were placed on him, and what we have today is,
quite frankly, largly due to Ollie's herculean efforts.

But even Hercules can't drain the ocean with a bucket, as no empty ocean-sized
hole exists to put the water, and when he "failed" to accomplish the, IMHO,
utterly unattainable goals that had been set for him, he was yanked from the
project.

The participation by volunteers didn't really atrophy, it simply took a while
to get started: we're really still only getting started. For the longest while
(years, really) K12LTSP was a one-man show: Eric Harrison. It will take
several years for edubuntu to establish itself as well.

Education isn't "sexy" like writing window managers that make your windows
dissapear in a puff of flame *cough*compiz*cough*.

> So, I've really got no idea how public software development
> monies could be positively infused into our community but at least the
> possibility is there. As a teacher who is not more than 2 years away from
> also becoming an educational researcher, I see much possible synergy between
> researchers and the current Edubuntu community.

I think it would be quite easy, but I think you've got to be realistic about
outcomes. Small amounts of cash for, say, bounties, or paying someone part
time to develop course content would go a long, long way.

> Should we seek to
> invite educational researchers into our community? Any proposal such as
> this is fraught with the dangers and benefits of change. What are the risks
> and what are the benefits as you see them?

Getting more teachers would be awesome.

Scott

--
Scott L. Balneaves | I don't have any solution,
Systems Department | but I certainly admire the problem.
Legal Aid Manitoba | -- Ashleigh Brilliant

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Old 01-19-2010, 12:45 AM
Scott Balneaves
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

On Mon, Jan 18, 2010 at 01:05:47PM -0600, David Groos wrote:

> I'm not sure who I'm quoting from the Edubuntu list, but in some heated
> discussion, someone said, "Edubuntu is not software, it's a Community!".

Sounds like one of my or LaserJock's mantras

> 1. The first issue is that teachers are mainly present in the community
> as consumers of resources *in the current communication channels of the
> community.* in other words, it is rare that programmers 'see' the
> hundreds, the thousands of students in the classes who benefit from what
> they have made!

This is, of course, one of the perennial problems of Free Software. People
want a tool that they can use. They don't want to become part of a "movement"
or a "community", they just want something that can help them teach.

This is certainly the niche that Commercial Software fills. Companies have
money to hire people with educational experience on staff to help them design
the programs that they sell. Teacher gives money, gets product, everything is
cool.

Except for the fact that these days, teachers don't have a lot of money.

Unfortunately (or we'd argue, fortunately) we operate differently. We don't
need money, as most of us do this for enjoyment, or as part of other goals, or
out of the volunteering spirit. However, we need the teachers to invest
something too: time. Time to explain to us what they need, time to test what
we write, time to deploy it in the classroom.

Anything that we can do to convince educators to invest this time is a good
thing.

> 2. Additionally, the professional knowledge of teachers is not shared,
> not developed in our community. How often do you see in the irc or
> list-serves questions about how to focus students attention on learning the
> main functionality of tuxtype, for example?

I think Frog and Owl at http://frogandowl.org/ (Plug for HedgeMage) is trying
to solve this problem.

> 1. a new irc eg "#edubuntu-in-action",

This one I'm not so sure of. I'm certainly more than happy to try this and
see, but I'd want to be in both #edubuntu and #edubuntu-in-action. I suspect
most teachers would also like, if they had the opportunity/time, to be in
contact with the edubuntu devs. Which begs the question: if the people in
#edubuntu want to hear from #edubuntu-in-action, and the people in
#edubuntu-in-action want the help of the people in #edubuntu, why not all just
hang out in the same channel.

However, it doesn't cost anything to start another channel, so I personally
have no objection to having the two.

> 2. a list-serve for teaching in Edubuntu-empowered classrooms where
> teaching challenges can be addressed,

I think we have this already, don't we? The "ubuntu-education" list?

> 3. and an already existent community resource where lesson ideas can be
> created, co-developed, and reused ie http://LeMill.net<http://lemill.net/>

Even better would be to develop some lessons underneath moodle, or the like,
and actually DISTRIBUTE this stuff on the edubuntu dvd.

> I recently saw a comment on #edubuntu: "I love publicly funded [software]
> development!" I've also seen it said on the list-serves that, when major
> leadership of the Edubuntu community was provided by a financially-based
> enterprise (Canonical), the leadership and participation by volunteers
> atrophied.

No offense to Ollie, but he was really fighting a losing battle. Impossible to
acheive and unrealistic goals were placed on him, and what we have today is,
quite frankly, largly due to Ollie's herculean efforts.

But even Hercules can't drain the ocean with a bucket, as no empty ocean-sized
hole exists to put the water, and when he "failed" to accomplish the, IMHO,
utterly unattainable goals that had been set for him, he was yanked from the
project.

The participation by volunteers didn't really atrophy, it simply took a while
to get started: we're really still only getting started. For the longest while
(years, really) K12LTSP was a one-man show: Eric Harrison. It will take
several years for edubuntu to establish itself as well.

Education isn't "sexy" like writing window managers that make your windows
dissapear in a puff of flame *cough*compiz*cough*.

> So, I've really got no idea how public software development
> monies could be positively infused into our community but at least the
> possibility is there. As a teacher who is not more than 2 years away from
> also becoming an educational researcher, I see much possible synergy between
> researchers and the current Edubuntu community.

I think it would be quite easy, but I think you've got to be realistic about
outcomes. Small amounts of cash for, say, bounties, or paying someone part
time to develop course content would go a long, long way.

> Should we seek to
> invite educational researchers into our community? Any proposal such as
> this is fraught with the dangers and benefits of change. What are the risks
> and what are the benefits as you see them?

Getting more teachers would be awesome.

Scott

--
Scott L. Balneaves | I don't have any solution,
Systems Department | but I certainly admire the problem.
Legal Aid Manitoba | -- Ashleigh Brilliant

--
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:00 AM
Oliver Grawert
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

hi,
Am Montag, den 18.01.2010, 19:45 -0600 schrieb Scott Balneaves:
> > 1. a new irc eg "#edubuntu-in-action",
>
> This one I'm not so sure of. I'm certainly more than happy to try this and
> see, but I'd want to be in both #edubuntu and #edubuntu-in-action. I suspect
> most teachers would also like, if they had the opportunity/time, to be in
> contact with the edubuntu devs. Which begs the question: if the people in
> #edubuntu want to hear from #edubuntu-in-action, and the people in
> #edubuntu-in-action want the help of the people in #edubuntu, why not all just
> hang out in the same channel.
>
> However, it doesn't cost anything to start another channel, so I personally
> have no objection to having the two.
>
well, opening one is easy, closing it again isnt. the #ubuntu-education
channel had exactly the above purpose and never took off (regulary there
were three people in it, two of them were the founders and one was
idling constantly, in the end people that came there were redirected to
#edubuntu again since there was the knowledge they actually looked for)
after a long back and forth of discussions we finally managed to close
it again.

i'm not saying you shouldnt open another channel but want to state some
warning from a child that has already been burned before...

why not widening the purpose of the existing channel and make that
purpose clear through a proper description on the wiki, website etc ...

on a sidenote i think its better to link the communities of users and
developers closer together, developers need to learn what their users
want and also need to learn what their users dont understand to improve
their software in a usability oriented way, you will only reach that
target if you join the two communities instead of tearing them apart.

ciao
oli
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:56 PM
Scott Balneaves
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 10:00:37AM +0100, Oliver Grawert wrote:

> on a sidenote i think its better to link the communities of users and
> developers closer together, developers need to learn what their users
> want and also need to learn what their users dont understand to improve
> their software in a usability oriented way, you will only reach that
> target if you join the two communities instead of tearing them apart.

I agree totally. Like I say, I think I'd rather just see us handle it all in
edubuntu.

When we get to the point where there's 50 teachers in there working on lesson
plans, and 50 developers all talking, and we're stepping on each others toes,
THEN we can think about two channels. For now, that's not the case.

David's other suggestion about lesson plans is a good one. I'd love us to be
able to ship some content.

Scott

--
Scott L. Balneaves | Nothing sickens me more than the closed door of a library.
Systems Department | -- Barbara Tuchman
Legal Aid Manitoba |

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Old 01-19-2010, 04:59 PM
"Jonathan Carter (highvoltage)"
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 4:56 PM, Scott Balneaves
<sbalneav@legalaid.mb.ca> wrote:
> I agree totally. *Like I say, I think I'd rather just see us handle it all in
> edubuntu.
>
> When we get to the point where there's 50 teachers in there working on lesson
> plans, and 50 developers all talking, and we're stepping on each others toes,
> THEN we can think about two channels. *For now, that's not the case.
>
> David's other suggestion about lesson plans is a good one. *I'd love us to be
> able to ship some content.

Since we're on the topic, what are we going to do with the
ubuntu-education list? Should we just merge it with edubuntu-users,
leave it as it is or repurpose it?

-Jonathan

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Old 01-19-2010, 06:11 PM
Scott Balneaves
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 07:59:14PM +0200, Jonathan Carter (highvoltage) wrote:

> Since we're on the topic, what are we going to do with the
> ubuntu-education list? Should we just merge it with edubuntu-users,
> leave it as it is or repurpose it?

Well, I think that's available for David to re-vitalize, if he'd like.

David?

Cheers,
Scott

--
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Systems Department | -- Gandhi
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Old 01-19-2010, 08:17 PM
Jordan Erickson
 
Default Teachers and Edubuntu and more

Scott Balneaves wrote:
> I agree totally. Like I say, I think I'd rather just see us handle it all in
> edubuntu.
>

I also think this is a great idea. There's not "too much" activity going
on in #edubuntu so we should just invite everyone to the party. =)

> David's other suggestion about lesson plans is a good one. I'd love us to be
> able to ship some content.
>


This is crucial from my point of view. Teachers don't give a $&#! about
the technology, a lot of them don't even use computers (even when
they're available). There needs to be a real motive for teachers to want
to work with this stuff, and if we ship actual content ready to go, then
they don't have to worry about mastering all aspects of the programs
they want to use (which I'd say, the majority would never want to do in
the first place). Content is most likely the 'killer app' for education
and the best way we could get more people to start using Edubuntu.


Cheers,
Jordan


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