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[edu-eu]my thoughts (long)

From: Susan Stewart
Subject: [edu-eu]my thoughts (long)
Date: Fri, 27 Dec 2002 18:31:17 -0600
User-agent: KMail/1.4.3

It's me, Susan... I'll be posting from this address instead of my yahoo one 
now that my Linux box is up, running, and behaving as it should.

I was recently asked by Odile Bennassy to do some work on the web site.  So I read, and I thought, and I came up with an 
idea or two.

I would like to make the education pages more friendly to non-computer geeks.  
Frankly, I know teachers who are still recovering from the transition from 
ditto machines to photocopiers.  They support a school's use of windows often 
simply on the premise of "at least I've heard of it" or "that's what my 
neighbor's kid has" or "if I buy a computer, that's what  will probably come 
on it."  Very few teachers that I've talked to would be willing to learn a 
new operating system because it is more stable, less expensive for the 
district, and more secure.  They'd prefer to stick with what they are at 
least somewhat familiar with.

Let's face it, the vast majority of information out there about Linux is 
geared toward people who eat RFCs for breakfast, dine on C and C++ for lunch, 
have configuration scripts for dinner with a side of USENET, and sleep with a 
stack of man pages under thier pillow.  (Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, 
but you get my point.)  The few classroom teachers I know who have heard of 
Linux see it as something computer geeks do, and think that it has no place 
among "normal" users.

Most computer geeks I know do not peruse the state school codes over coffee.  
Most teachers I know have no interest in doing technical computer reading.

So, I'm working on a couple of things that I intend to add to the site upon 
completion. (I won't promise a date because the lives of pregnant women 
changing jobs while moving into new homes tend to be a little unpredictable.)

First is a set of guides for teachers and other education-related folks 
(school administrators, volunteers, etc.) that focus on the role of computer 
technology in a school setting, and the GNU/Linux resources available to get 
the job done.  This will be user-level reading, aimed at the education side 
of things rather than the technical stuff.  My goal is to make GNU/Linux look 
approachable from an end-user's standpoint, and to introduce folks to the 
community that surrounds this kind of software.

The second thing I'd like to do (this is not nearly as well thought-out as my 
last idea... it's more of a vague notion at this point)  is to start growing 
some kind of online community for teachers who use free software or want to 
learn more about it.  As with online documentation, internet forums regarding 
free software tend to be geared toward developers, system administrators, and 
tinkerers rather than typical end-users.  The most appropriate thing that 
springs to mind is getting a moderated newsgroup going on usenet (AFAIK, none 
currently exists for this purpose).  I would be happy to volunteer as a 
moderator, though as I've never moderated on USENET before, let alone 
undertaken the writing of an RFD and all those happy formalities, I would 
need the help of someone more experienced.  The only catch I see is getting 
enough posters together initially to make the group interesting enough to 
keep everyone reading.  Once the group has an established readership, I think 
it would grow quite nicely, but how do we come up with that readership to 
start the group with?

Well, that's what my brain has been working on the past few days (and boy is 
that hamster tired!).  You have a thought and a vague notion for your 
perusal.  Feel free to comment, flame me, or offer to help.


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