Technology, Community and K12 Education

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Share your experiences and thoughts on the state of technology use and online community development in K-12 education. Particularly focused on work with teachers and principals but if you are interested in these issues for students, parents or other constituents, bring it on!

NOTES (the recording of this talk is 350MB, come see me if you want to grab it, or email me, -great talk!)

Steve (Facilitator) - working at Foundation 2001-2007 that was working with K12 orgs around country - got interested in OS and Ed & open communities - changing models to be more egalitarian - Dep of Ed Project: Brokers of Expertise - Build professional networks among teachers & resource repository -- resource publishing repository

  • Isabel - Brasil

- starting project for "political" schools that educate teenagers and adults on social movements & political participation

  • Tori

- worked in education pre-K to university - recently - working in elementary schools teaching computers - used a lot of OS tech

  • Timmy

- sub in Cupertino school district - advocating getting sub network onto a web system - stepping stone to more broadly get things onto web systems - work closely with teachers managing content

  • Hilary

- Oakland public schools - tech support -- elementary schools -- most experience is getting donated computers set up to be used (mostly laptops)

  • Resource:

- based in Oakland - teachers work together: share projects

  • CA Board of Ed is building a single open platform
  • Larry

- Childcare Agency - Developed in-house app that is going to b OS - Looking into what resources are available for non-profit education

  • Mimi
  • Dave

- Chicago Technology Club - several projects with schools and universities - used to work with non-profit that used to

  • Nick

- Open Planning - Tech / Media company for urban planning / OS for govt - initiave in education ( - practice around NYC schools districts - just hired 3 reporters to cover school beat - growing network of parent organizers - develop set of resources for teacher community - develop networks for civic action (education being one area)

  • Steve: Brasil has made huge stand on OS and education

- Indiana has as well

  • There's been a lot of OS for students
  • But teacher resources has been mostly vendor-based
  • k12forge has administrative stuff
  • but no one is using it
  • Timmy: teachers need to use the technologies that are being pushed on their students to set an example
  • Isabel

- real problem with teachers being afraid of the technology

  • Dave: most non-profits understand that they need to have a media / technology strategy

- do schools think that way yet?

  • Steve: alot of technology decisions are made at the district level

- there has been some experimentation in Oakland with giving schools more freedom with money - but a lot of that ends up circling back to districts level for services

Tori - MLTI - Maine Laptop Initiave - 6th and 7th-graders all get laptops (Macs) - was working in semi-autonomous school - gave every child in the school a laptop (32 kids) - schools decided if kids could take laptops home, used in classroom, etc - all the Macs had custom setup - biggest long-distance learning network

Larry - k12forge - techsoup

- k12ltsp (linux-server based system + thin clients - K12linuxterminalserverproject

-- lets you run 100 stations on 1 server -- case studies on the site -- client doesn't do anything complex - Alameda County Computer Resource Center - recycling place -- take PCs + linux donate it back to schools - Open Textbook Project - Open Curriculum Project - Curriki

Dave - Seen thin clients in D.C. - really cut down support costs - Maintenance tasks are simple - 90% of support issues go away - Companies ship the systems already set up

  • Install fests
  • Mimi - How do teachers compile curriculums today
  • Steve - Depends on grade-level and subject area

-- In CA - early grades: 2 curriculum material sets you can use, no choice -- You can supplement those materials -- Some districts are super-rigid, others are a bit more loose -- Rigid system good for getting initial boost, but has diminishing returns

- Standards for each state - Those require instructions - but might be really vague / broad (e.g. Understand the ramifications of the Civil War) - State tests - this is the way to measure progress

  • Curriculum is pretty political
  • District has a lot of authority over curriculums

- Really unusual to see lesson plan distributed outside of the school

  • Norfolk VA is a good model for giving schools autonomy - but within limits

- Results are set by district, but the schools can decide how to meet goals

  • How do we address making teachers not feel like the curriculum system is "punitive"?

- Teachers never get fired

- How do you measure the success of curriculums without making teachers feel like they are putting themselves in a vulnerable place?

- When you make things digital, all of a sudden you can "measure" and evaluate teachers. - Edusoft system?

  • Resource Limitations

- Oakland principals still doing AOL dial up

  • IEP - Process for tracking individual students

- but is only applied to special ed kids - also can't follow students across schools - NYC - is trying to do this (Aris)

- Student information systems space is owned by Pearson (publisher) -- assessment management systems -- student information systems (lunch, classes, guardians, etc - profiles) -- administrative systems -- data analysis systems (crunch numbers) -- budgeting systems

- Couple of open standards -- Student Interop Framework - allows student data to move between systems -- not implemented

- data isn't entered consistently - data warehouse isn't possible because data needs to be normalized

  • State of CA - student information system project to standardize the process

-- Teacher performance data is a huge union issue -- What is the purpose of this data? Are you just trying to build a case to fire me? (Lack of trust.)

  • ISSUE: # and Education

- Teachers put up barriers to being measured - Students can't graduate if they don't pass the CA Exit Exam - but you go back into the system that failed you the first time around

Isabel: Brasil -- There are state schools and municipal schools -- Universities are run by central govt -- How often is OS chosen over proprietary solutions?

Steve: OS isn't used in education in America - but not statistically significant

- Isabel: Linux Users Group is going into charter schools in SF to install systems - Larry: but mostly depends on whether there is local leadership to make it happen

Larry - working as a consultant - most people have mentality: Windows is what everybody uses (in business) - fear of lack of support for Linux

Tori - But switching between platforms isn't that big a deal

Larry - There are a lot of education grants - but have a lot of "marketing" strings. (HP, Microsoft, etc)

Steve - Govt agencies aren't really set up to use OS systems - spent 18 mos. to get money on the table to get agreement to move forward - how is an OS project going to compete with a vendor to "sell" the system - Request for Proposals system - Govt agencies are stuck in model where they "buy" systems

Dan - son is in 5th grade in Berkeley - teachers aren't tech savvy - kids are into games, not "computers" - what is the structure for "technology" volunteers

Larry - computer classes had separate student / teacher editions

  • Resource: Steve - "Learn to Program" book - designed around Ruby
  • Resource: Logo is a great starter language (simple drawing app)
  • Resource: Tori -

-- gave it to the art teacher

  • Isabel - in Brasil, a curriculum has been developed to build their own hardware from scratch
  • Technology doesn't need to be a separate "class" in schools - kids really think of technology as a given in whatever they do

-- How can teachers teach "traditional" subject matter and integrated "technology" into the curriculum

  • Mouse California - teaches kids re: problem solving + teamwork

- upper elementary / middle school / hs - aim is to create student tech teams - Oakland, San Mateo, down the peninsula - teachers are teaching it as a elective class or afterschool program

More Resources - Computer Using Educators: - Tech Futures (Richmond, Contra Costa District) Ron Whittier -- Takes kids through whole curriculum of building software and deploying it

REPORT BACK - Shared a lot of resources - look on notes - Case studies of interesting things happening in different school districts across the country - Surprising barriers (top-down and bottom-up) to implementing new systems -- Hurdles of introducing OS into school systems - Problems with existing projects - data interop issues