On Wed, 2007-08-08 at 08:10 -0400, James Tremblay wrote:
In sales parlance, a vertical solution is one that
covers all the
components needed (application set\Hardware set) to perform a business
task, i.e. HP has a vertical business solution, it sells: PC's,
printers, switches, servers and software.
In education a "vertical solution" could be defined as a set of
software pieces that encompass all of the tasks an Educator is
confronted with daily,
This is the problem. You are looking at it as a technological issue when
its a learning issue. An educational vertical solution results in
learning, its as simple as that. What matters is the outcome not the
process. If you want to narrow it a bit to a vocational education
solution you also need some sort of qualification, graduation or
certification at the end. The solution will involve software, support
for things like social networking, peer assessment virtual learning
environments and e-portfolios but also some plain old-fashioned human
interaction and celebration. Over-focus on any one component is going to
diminish the educational value of the proposition.
i.e. a teacher needs an attendance module,
grading module, course management, reference materials management and
reporting\assessment module, etc. A school needs a desktop OS, server
OS, web applications, e-mail, firewall, etc. With SLE, openSUSE and the
EDU-CD we can provide all of the above and more.
But you don't provide the fundamental reason why anyone would not just
get those things from Microsoft and the other established suppliers all
who have bigger marketing budgets than we do. You are trying to get
people to change their technology before they understand why there is a
need. Its rather ironic that the value of educating people about why
change is needed is lost in providing "educational" solutions which are
really technological solutions.
The EDU-CD adds to the
standard business solution provided by Novell those tools necessary by
compiling the various open source components like : Centre\SIS, Moodle
and openbiblio and more onto one OS and makes them easy to install and
configure, thus creating a "vertical solution".
A CD is just a dated distribution medium. We provide all those functions
mostly from a web site so no need to install anything. We provide
government recognised qualifications to provide the incentive to learn
why its all useful and to give enhanced employment prospects to those
that take it up. Its not dependent on Ubuntu or Suse - actually the
fundamentals can be done with Windows because we want to educate die
hard windows users not preach to the converted. I can't really see why
education professionals would cast off dependency on MS to then lock
themselves into a different "integrated" solution simply because it
integrated technical components for them. Most educators couldn't care
less about the technical components as long as they enable students to
learn. When they learn about open FOSS communities and positively opt
into them, we know we are making real sustainable progress.
I would like to see programming enhancements to these
make them more compatible with "No Child Left Behind" and those similar
standards\requirements across the globe as we move forward.
Well, the world is bigger than the USA so don't get too hooked up on the
US education system. The fact is that there are no world standards for
most school based learning but it is a good time to start establishing
some. They won't be based on ownership of a particular software distro
I think that
we could entice the programmers involved in the different OSS projects
for schools to combine their talents here and make these programs and
the EDU-CD a standard for world wide educational environments.
Along with Skolelinux, OpenCD, Extremadura's distro and many others?
What you are all doing is producing collections of software that might
or might not be useful to schools. This approach has had very limited
success in the Microsoft world simply because the great majority of
teachers aren't interested in technology, they are interested in
motivating kids and getting them graduated and qualified. A lot of that
is a human rather than technological challenge.
about the promise of an Open Source project that helps educators
evaluate the progress of students and the effectiveness of their
curriculum as compared to achievements and curricula of other students
and schools on an international scale.
Assuming we all place the same cultural values on what effective
education means. I think you will find a lot of disagreement on that. We
already have a school inspection service and BECTA that serve these
functions in the UK. Computers are not at all good at this type of
evaluation except in some very narrow fields. What really matters is
getting teachers and students learning by contributing to community
projects using the principles of free software development to improve
education methods. To achieve that we have to embed FOSS principles in
the curriculum not try and force new technologies onto people not ready
With Moodle as the core curricula
management tool, courses\assignments are internationalized simply by
sharing them as modules in the Moodle forum, enhanced locally and
returned back to the community in the epitome of open source.
That is closer to what is needed but Moodle is not dependent on Ubuntu
or Suse - in fact you can use if from Windows quite happily. How do you
incentivise the middle and late adopters to participate? That is a key
to getting mass take up. Moodle is popular in schools by comparison to
other VLPs but its still only in use in a minority and then often only
in specific departments with specific champion teachers.
I believe that great teaching exists all over the
world but the ability
of the best teachers to effect the largest group of students is stifled
by the boundaries of the physical classroom. We, the technical support
group of those teachers and school administrators, can and should do
everything in our power to tare down those walls as has been done by the
technical support groups of the international business world.
Your biggest challenge is to persuade teachers who are mostly not IT
specialists why they should spend their time on this when many competing
initiatives are being thrown at them from many sides.
I'm not trying to discredit your efforts here, I'm just saying the
entire FOSS movement has been far too focussed on technological
solutions to problems that are inherently about people.
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