Schools Combine Netbooks, Open Source
Thanks to the relatively simultaneous development of smaller and cheaper laptops and advances in open-source computing, schools that could not afford 1-to-1 computing programs a few years ago are finding ways to adopt them today. As they do, teachers are relaying the message to students that their learning environments are becoming more mobile, virtual, and interactive than ever before.
“This year is different than any year in the past,” Chris Scott, a history and technology teacher at Santa Ynez School, a public school serving students in grades 2-8 in Santa Ynez, Calif., says he told his students on the first day of class. The 222-student school, now wireless, gave every student in grades 6-8 a netbook computer to use in language arts, history, science, and math classes.
The package is based on an open-source operating system called Ubuntu—a variation of Linux that is specifically designed for netbooks. While less than four gigabytes in size, Klein’s mix provides more than 50 free educational applications and tools, including OpenOffice Word and Spreadsheet, Firefox and Google Chrome browsers, Gimp and TuxPaint graphics design, Tux Math and Multiplication Puzzle games, Virtual Microscope, KWordQuiz, Audacity audio editor, and RhythmBox Music.