Discussion summary
(Courtesy Jim Gerry)

Roundtable discussion
Steve Hargadon, facilitator
Roadmap for Open Source in schools
Define 2 or 3 things most important from this morning.
Steer away from “free” and more toward “open” – what collaboration can these technologies facilitate?
“Free” suggests less valuable.
Need to educate the community (includes teachers and larger community) about OSS.
Need to understand difference between proprietary and open source applications. Understand why some applications don’t run in the classroom.
Issues of support. Sometimes simpler is better. This level of sophistication demands ease of support.
Teachers need to feel they are in control, can’t be intimidated by perceived expertise of students. Kids are willing to take time to figure technology out, but teachers don’t want to. Teachers want it to work right out of the box.
Teachers who integrate technology will redesign their teaching.
Vendors provide service. They don’t sell licenses; they weren’t making any money on that before, anyway.
About half of Spain now uses OSS.
Teachers want to use applications they are familiar with.
OSS can change the culture to more 21st Century skills. More collaboration, more communication.
Need to find a way to receive recognition for one’s contribution online. People hold back, thinking they will publish their findings/experiences. Need the recognition.
The culture doesn’t change because the tool is free; the culture changes because of the nature of the tool itself.
Seeing increase in instructional time because students are engaged during classtime – noticing a big increase in after hours engagement. Students log in to Moodle many times after school (anecdote: even on Thanksgiving Day).
Moodle is special because it is constructivist from the beginning. Some of the other OSS is not necessarily constructivist.
Isn’t sharing knowledge what we are doing? Normally we learn to “sit on” knowledge and to sell it. This software encourages sharing. “We will solve the climate change only if we share our knowledge.”
Student involvement “big light bulb” – Hargadon
Need to provide support communities for teachers, both technical and pedagogical support.
In Germany if a student learns Linux, he gets a job sooner than others.
No one is “selling” OSS they way other proprietary software is sold (at conferences, shows for examples).
Need to find people who can build these support communities.
What scale are we thinking? Will schools take the lead? Regional authorities? State? National? Vendors will work with whoever takes the lead.
Hargadon observation – people don’t “get” thin client concept.
Pushing developers to run on Linux/Web
Support for Open Standards
Dual-edged sword – want to use software they have already invested in but also want files to open in OSS applications.
Teachers don’t always know what to do with computers, whether the applications are free or not.
Teachers don’t know about licensing to publish online. Need to know about Creative Commons. Teachers are very practical people. Don’t have much time.
We don’t know yet how the computer will transform education. We can see some things developing, such as Moodle and distance education.
Transparency includes setup and maintenance – must be upfront about time and expertise required.
Analogy of OSS being like roses is good as long as we remember that roses have thorns. Must handle with care. When it’s good, it’s better than anything else. Grab it the wrong way, though, and “Ow!”
We should be open about costs attached to implementation and management of OSS solutions, transition costs, etc. Just avoiding cost of licenses.
MS is making its product available very cheaply in Europe.
Need to develop critical mass – at least 5 teachers per building in order to have success.
Project-based learning, problem-based learning needs to be the direction we move toward. Digital Divide issues must be considered.
How shall vendors be engaged? We couldn’t get them to attend this conference! (Opinion: Vendors still think they’re in charge.)
Hargadon’s question: why aren’t vendors involved in education? Possible answer: vendors are driven by profit. They don’t profit from OSS.
Could we create an RFP template for schools. Some vendors aren’t interested – it has been tried in Quebec. Vendors aren’t much interested. Vendors are interested in size and demand. Need critical mass of schools before vendors will be interested.
Road map needs to be global. “Bring more talent to bear” to the issue. Resulting white paper could be of such a level that schools, regions, countries might adopt it. Then vendors would come on board.
Depending on vendors is “very American.” In Andalusia, by law vendors must meet certain specs on applications. It’s a big plus that more money stays local. Want to avoid U.S. marketing dominance.
Need group communications tool, need to invite more people into the discussion, need to meet regularly. Need one unified repository of information. This group could establish it. Multiple languages. Identify current providers of open content.
Need to be able to document TCO. Provide documents online to politicians, et al. It’s all about how we (OSS) market ourselves as a solution.
CoSN doesn’t want to be advocates – they want to provide information impartially.
British educational authorities have done a study like this. Even in the face of evidence that it’s good software, people are leery of it.
Need to get companies to step up and sponsor OSS technologies. Norwegian govt is sponsoring projects focusing on OSS in public sector. Results will be published in the next year in both Norwegian and English. Interest in Spain, too.
International efforts are already underway. We might be able to use those results and get them translated. Needs to be global, non-US-centric. If US-oriented, it will be shunned in Asia and some European nations.
Noted that HP and IBM donate a lot of money toward this. Check local, regional organizations. Different targets for different issues.
Do not underestimate the man-hours involved in selling OSS (applications, mindset).
Should this group remain informal, just meet once or twice a year, or does it need to be formal? “Do”ocracy has proven to be efficient. When something is done, though, it must be certified. Must be prepared for viruses, malware. Need to discuss “Web of trust.”
Accountability is key – governments require data if they are to fund something.
Web of trust = system bottom up –identification of people – need private key and public key.
Is there a model for this?
Maybe what we need is a US group with international support. We are focusing on what we need now, need to consider more long-term planning. We don’t even know what’s out there.
Europeans know more about what’s being done in other countries than US people are. EU has a vehicle for exchange of resources.
Americans can find the European information online easily – “Google it.”
Even in European nations where Linux is popular, it is still the minority.
Americans are still assumed to be technologically advanced. It might be possible to leverage that perception to accomplish some goals in Europe. J
Problems are both global and local. We need to find/create models for common issues – can figure out local ones on our own.
A site that serves as clearinghouse and discussion site for OSS issues would be a good outcome of this conference. Also needs to be safe haven for teacher and decision makers. Not too heavy on tech talk – needs to be fun for teachers and users. Don’t let teacher list become too philosophical. Need list for this group.
Hargadon: do we want to meet again in 6 months or a year? (Litmus test)
If we do, it should be in Europe.
Maybe have online meetings, virtual environment, VoIP, need to hear voices to prevent flame wars.
Use technology to reduce carbon footprint, too.
Need mailing list to share success stories. Use these stories to motivate others to join, “win people with success stories.”