With the proliferation of web 2.0 apps, it seems that the operating system is becoming less and less important. Most modern OS's can run most modern software, and most modern browsers can run most web apps. So does the question now shift to which hardware is best? Which "user experience" is best? Does the old "most software won't run on a Mac..." argument still hold water? Should we all switch to Ubuntu?

Tags: Linux, Mac, OS, Operating, Windows, oss, system

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I agree. While I personally use and advocate Mac for everything, I see that linux, in an institutional setting, makes a whole lot of sense. My district seems afraid of the students not "learning" Windows if we move to something else. (Full disclosure: many of our students do not have computers at home, so what they get in school amounts to the total of their computing experience.) My opinion is that they should not be so stuck on one GUI that they become lost if they find themselves on another.

That being said, the whole point of early operating systems was to unify the GUI. This helped take computers out of the hands of programmers who could use DOS programs, and into the hands of average people, who were able to learn a single GUI.

I don't know if this is still necessary, but if so, getting rid of the OS may get tricky, and using varieties of Linux may not work either.
Most, most, most is not all, all, all. Different strokes for different needs. Let the autonomous teacher select the OS based on what she will be using.
Hey Jeff,
Are you the owner of a school and you have dictatorial authority over everything? Perhaps you should ask the users the same question. In my opinion the only concern is the building computer classroom. That needs to be made of the same computers to make it easy to install software etc. There is a small price difference between Apple and Windows-based computers.

Perhaps if you have a good building network you can have a thin client environment where the desktop computers will run off a server where the applications and data will reside.

If no one cares then you can go ahead and decide for everyone, otherwise, have a group of users sit around the table and have a heated discussion.

Evan P.
Online School Data
My Blog
Yo are right, but I was referring to classroom desktop computers. What would you do if a user prefers using an Apple computer as opposed to something else. Or using a Windows/Inter computer instead of Linux?

The point I was making was the one of collaboration prior to purchasing.

Evan P.
Jeff,

You are making the self-same mistake techies always make - rendering the needs of the user as insignificant! Remind me of the time the techies install the new NT network in my lab for K-2 students, installed the Office Suite, and when I asked what software they had for us, was told NONE. Fortunately, it connected to the Internet, and within a few weeks had the kids accessing learning games on the Internet from a webpage that came up instead of the Internet face installed by the techies.

Remember a few days ago when you were complaining about the "fat" in school budgets for good software and you insisted that free knockoffs were just as good? We talked about the sims games, of which there are many: Sim Park, Sim Farm, Sim Town and Sim City are some that I would recommend for different subjects, different applications and at most elementary grade levels. But, in the freeware for Linux, only a knock-off of Sim City was available. Sim Park and Sim Farm are more suited to the science curricula, and Sim Town/Sim City are closer to matcing objectives in social studies, Civics, and government. Based on such facts, I seriously doubt your 99.9% of the curriculum being well served by no-cost or low-cost software. You get what you pay for!
My apologies to Jeff. I thought you and he were one in the same. Nevertheless, lumping "techies" is no worse than lumping "educational software".

And, I cannot check if you made two recommendations or just the one that I remember which was a take-off on Sim City since you took down your responses to that discussion. Nevertheless, then nor now, have you suggested an alternate for Sim Park. And, I did add Sim Farm to the list. It was the one I was trying to think of and couldn't the other day, and since looked it up.

I showed you the site that listed these games as "Abandonware" at http://free-game-downloads.mosw.com/
and you said that you didn't know if it was legal or illegal. Your lack of knowledge does not render it "potentially illegal". It's been up for some time now, plenty of time for the copyright holders to object, but if you learn for an absolute fact that it is described as "free" incorrectly, let me know.

And, yes, there would be other ways to teach what can be taught simply, easily, engagingly and efficiently with Sim Park, but I coulldn't put all those adjectives to it. All in one fun package, the student can learn Life Processes, Predator and Prey, The Food Chain, Ecology, and more (including results of human interaction with environments). They can also learn details of environment and diet about a nice set of animals, learn the general climates of the US, and learn details on some interesting plants. Now, that is a lot of learning that spans grades K through middle school. The game can be played by the whole class with the teacher manning the keyboard, and projected on a smart board, or individually. The students at first will follow the teacher's lead to create a park, and will later learn to establish their own. There is also an economic aspect to the game, but it is far from the important feature it is in Sim City.
Indigo,

You seem determined to argue with whatever I say, both on my discussion list and this one. If you know for certain that a site is not what it says it is, say so. If not, button it up.

Now, I provided a lengthy description of just one piece of software that is well-suited to the curriculum for a variety of reasons and for which there is not similar object in your off-brand stuff. Would you please address how teachers are supposed to work towards a 21st century education is they are not using the best tools available.

You point out that the computer is but a tool - like a pencil - which can be bought anywhere. It is really much more than that. It is a precision tool, one that takes time to learn to use and which is learned primarily because it is to be used again outside of school. Having kids learn on computers that are cheap instead of being finely honed for the task, is like giving the kids textbooks printed on newsprint and without graphics. Sure, they sorta almost work, but not very well, and not as well as a well-designed textbook.

How many more techies are needed for an open source network compared to a proprietary one?
None? Surely you jest! You are not being realistic at all. In fact my experiences with Unix and Linux systems is just the opposite. I think you are being a source of disinformation.

And, that, perhaps is why you are so intent on argueing. You may be used to having your say and your way, but you've run into one cookie who doesn't buy it.
Not meaning to jump into this as we've gone over this ground before, but I'll add my experiences.

As far as server software goes, I can tell you that I have run a Linux Apache server with hardly a hiccup for two years and virtually no down time.

Having thrown Ubuntu on my kids' laptops, I'd say that it is no more trouble than Windows. It hasn't been flawless, but any tweaking I've had to do is more than offset by the lack of problems/expense related to viruses, malware, etc which represents a good deal of what our IT person spends her time on (other than state data warehousing).

I believe that in most cases, Linux is the best choice for school computers used for the common day-to-day tasks such as office applications, web browsing, simple photo-editing, etc. I think that it is tough to justify the expense of other OSs in most, but not all cases. I do believe there is justification for some Macs in certainly places and with users that can justify it in terms of what they do with the computer. I'm sorry, but I've used the Linux apps, but some are just not there yet compared to the smooth interactivity of some Mac suites of applications.

For the record, I am chiefly a Mac user. For myself, at the moment, I believe it is worth the expense. I hope and believe that when I come to the market for a computer again in 4 or so years that may not be the case.
Anne, Do you actually load and use this 'abandonware' with kids? Over the last 20 years I've owned tons of stand alone software (many named on the referenced site) and downloading it on newer and newer machines has become less and less successful. Unless you are loading the software on older machines with older OS I'm surprised you are having any success at all.

I agree that there are some good stand alone programs but many are a waste of time, we've narrowed our selections down to a few. With so much good stuff online--Scratch, Alice, Google Earth, Atmosphir, etc. we leave most of our 'game playing' as an at-home option.
Nancy,

I downloaded Sim Park to my XP system at home and my friend to his VISTA at home, and both have been working to see what we can develop from the software.

And, yes, I do agree that it is best to use the most modern and up-to-date software your district will spring for. But I've been in teaching situations where good software, whatever it's age, is not financially supported, and teachers must choose to buy it themselves or use what they can.

I will be checking stats on my website on the 1st as usual and will see how many people were interested in Sim Park in the few weeks it's been on there. I have a lot of user from everywhere, so it will be interesting to see if any number find this useful.
Anne, I don't have anything (research) to back it up but 25 years of teaching experience, using computers, software and programs everyday but I wonder about the value of using some of the software you mentioned in MY classroom. I teach gifted kids K-6. With limited time I see there are much meatier and more real and relevant applications than Roller Coaster Tycoon and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. My students 'play' on computer or game systems so much at home I want the time spent with me to be used to think, collaborate and stretch. I'm finding a real need to discriminate when it come to software, applications and Web 2.0 tools. Sure, a lot of them are fun and flashy but do they make my kids better thinkers? problem solvers? collaborators? Not so much.

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