Debian Edu – Interview: Angela Fuß

“Which strategy do you believe is the right one to use to get schools to use free software?

I am really convinced that in our school project "IT-Zukunft Schule" we have developed (and keep developing) a great way to get schools to use Free Software. We have written a detailed concept for that so I cannot explain the whole thing here. But in a nutshell the strategy has three crucial pillars:

  • We really take time to get what sort of stories, questions and concerns the schools head and the teachers have about using different kinds of IT and we take time to enrol them into Free Software.
  • Our solution for schools is never just technical. In the centre are always the people who are going to use the software. From the very beginning of the planning for a school, we tell the schools head that they are paying us not only for a technical solution for their school, they also pay us for leading all the communication processes needed. If they do not want that, we are not working with them because we cannot give a guarantee for the quality of our work then.
  • Another focus lies in the training of teachers and students in co-administrating the IT-System at their school. They start getting in contact with the Skolelinux / Debian Edu community and they get the offer to become more and more independent from us.

see Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian Edu interview: Angela Fuß.

There, you have it, a recipe for successfully migrating a school to GNU/Linux. It is vitally important to have all users sharing information about motivations and resources available. In my experience younger teachers are most accepting of the wonderful resources of FLOSS available with GNU/Linux. Some older teachers I have known did not even want to use any PC… Many more want nothing to do with IT except routine stuff like writing memos and e-mail. A school thrives when teachers and students all want to make the best use of IT to get education done. In most schools students are the greatest resource in IT but the least used. Putting that youthful energy to work is key. Teachers can lead, follow, or get out of the way…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to Debian Edu – Interview: Angela Fuß

  1. Chuckle. I just use vim and FreePascal compiler. No need of make at all. Of course I do build some applications and the Linux kernel but I rarely change the code, because it’s Cish. C and I are antagonistic. I only need one assignment operator in Pascal…

    For a first language I always recommend Pascal because it was designed for that purpose. C evolved like cancer. I can compile code I wrote 15 years ago with the current Free Pascal compiler while folks write in C and state compiler version x.y.z must be used… What’s with that? Is the language actually defined somewhere?

    For a second language, I suppose C is OK but nowadays there are many other choices like Java, Ruby, PHP, etc.

    I have only used a debugger a few times in my life. If one writes modular code a debugger is not necessary because if each module is debugged, the whole thing will be debugged, in Pascal, anyway. C is another matter…

    An interesting demonstration of GNU tools could be worked up that automatically compiled components in multiple languages. With the right hardware, one can build some major application in a class and “narrate” the process. One might need to make a movie and play it back in slow-motion to keep up. One could also demonstrate building a kernel or a small distro from source code. Gentoo still does that…

    It’s a target-rich environment. I doubt there’s any definitive thing that can be done in one lecture. It might take a series of seminars demonstrating one or more tools each time.

    I had some fun building the kernel last time. The CPU shut down for temperature! I blew the dust out of the heatsink and tried again. Great fun.

  2. ssorbom says:

    It’s good to see some of these stratagies working. I think bottom up evangelization may be having an effect in my Computer science class. Somebody new jumped on the bandwagon a few days ago. Both myself and another friend talk about Free Software alot, so it is possible that the new guy got curious from that.

    I also approached my former Unix professor about allowing me to give a set of guest lectures about how to use various parts of the GNU toolchain to accomplish some of the work for other CS classes (Make, G++, GDB, etc). Mr. Pogson do you have any suggestions with regard to giving lectures like that, maybe some specific subjects I should cover?
    I was thinking (in order):
    *Using Emacs as an IDE
    *Using G++ and GNU Make
    *Debugging With GDB and other tools (Flymake, etc)

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