Posts from — October 2009

A1 Conclusion

Hi folks –

Just a note that you all should have your A1 grades back to you by email by now.  Please email me directly if you have not received your grade yet, or if you have any questions.

I’d like to say I was very impressed with energy and creativity shown by all of you in addressing this assignment.   I’ve never experienced a higher calibre set of responses to an analysis of this kind from a group of apprentice EVAs.  Well done!


October 25, 2009   No Comments

Module 7 One to One Technologies


Please begin by looking at this concept map to get a sense of the content we covered in this module.  This initial concept map serves as a Module organizer only.  Check back at the end of this week to see a more interactive concept map that you can use for summative review.
To start off the dialogue, we would like you to consider the following question FIRST and post your replies here, before proceeding to our NING site.
When you hear the term “One to One Technologies” what does it mean to you?

Once you have responded to the above question, please proceed to our Module 7 website:

There are instructions on the main page for navigating through the site.
You should be able to SIGN IN using the same email / password that you have used before, for NING.
There are many opportunities for you to engage in dialogue and discussion.
We will also provide an RSS feed so you can follow the discussion here.

Check back here throughout the week to view any posts that pertain to Module 7.
And feel free to post any comments or questions here as well.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy our presentation.
Kathleen Cavanagh, Cathy Jung, Merv LaBrash, Brian Powell, and Erica Toombs

We have also provided a video showing you how to navigate through our Module 7 NING presentation:

YouTube Preview Image

October 25, 2009   30 Comments

Some comments on the history of OSS

I have been reading the comments on the dipity timeline from our presentation and wanted to address a few points. Thanks to everyone who left comments on the timeline. It would have been great to link the comments directly to the blog, but here are my responses (read: these are my thoughts, not the whole group’s).

First there were several comments that OSS does not protect the intellectual property rights of the creators. I  agree that there is a real need to protect intellectual property rights with regard to software creation. However, in proprietary settings the code writers never get credit and it is the corporation or business that benefits financially from their work the most and holds all the rights. Microsoft pays it’s programmers well, but they are not doing nearly as well as Bill Gates. At least in OSS, if the software is licenced under GPL or Creative Commons, the actual programmers get to keep the IP rights to their work. If they want to develop a business around providing services to users of the product they are free to do so. If someone creates a derivative work on the shoulders of what I have done, then the IP rights to the new work should lie with them, but I would want to be credited as having made the original source.

Second, several people commented that they were surprised that ‘open-source’ style software predates PS. I truly believe that hardware and software development would have been seriously hindered if in the early days of computers there had not been a free and easy exchange of information and software between researchers and programmers. Science moves forward through the sharing of ideas, not just competition (although competition is a significant factor). One of the aims of the F/OSS community is to foster the development of new ideas and collaboration.

Lastly, I think we have to consider that OSS actually combats software piracy by giving people a viable alternative to buying shady copies of Microsoft Vista on the street corner. It also means that students can learn to use a wider aray of applications and programs than a school could provide if they had to pay high prices for software. Also students can take OSS home and extend their learning, as Eveline mentioned in one of her comments.

As we move towards things like Software as a Service, will the software we actually install on our machines continue to be something we want to pay for? Or will we be more willing to pay for services and support for software that is distributed at low cost?

October 25, 2009   2 Comments

Open-Source as a Classroom Alternative

Blog Question: Would you support implementing FOSS/OSS in your work environment?

As a secondary teacher I support the use of FOSS and OSS in schools.  I think they are a cost-effective and useful way to bring great software to students.  Not only does most of the software “just work” it is often frequently updated based on user comments and could even provide an opportunity for students to help out with the software.

Although OSS software may not always be the best option, I still prefer Word and Powerpoint for instance, but they often they can bring software to the classroom that might not otherwise be there.  For instance open-source CAD software (Cademia and avoCADo, video editing software (Virtual Dub and ZW-4) or audio-editing software (Audacity).

To give an example of OSS in the classroom I thought I would share an experience I had with OSS in my classroom.   A few years ago I was asked by my principal at the time to develop a new computers/information processing class for the grade 9’s.  After weighing out the various options and considering that I had zero budget I decided to develop an image and photo editing class built around the amazing FOSS photo editor  The software is nearly as  advanced as high-end, and extremely expensive, editors like Photoshop and also has a similar interface and shortcuts.  This is great for students who might pursue photo editing further and makes the transfer of skills easy.  The software also had numerous online tutorials, guides and help pages that were easy to use and navigate.   All of this made it extremely easy to develop a course around the software and give my students some valuable technical skills.

In the end the class was a huge success and I they are still using my materials and to teach the class.  Although has undergone over 2 years of revisions most have been additions, not major changes and most of the material required little or no change to support the new software.

Anyways, it is this and other positive experiences with OSS that have led me to use it more personally and professionally and I encourage other people to think twice about buying new software before exploring what OSS has to offer.  A handy site is Open-Source as Alternatives which lists alternatives for many types of software we normally pay for.  The site allows you to list commercial and alternative software by OS and by use.

October 25, 2009   5 Comments

OSS in Schools

It has been wonderful hearing all the feedback about how people are using OSS in their schools and personal lives.

Through these conversations, I am curious to know if people are using or exploring open source out of their own initiative or if people are encouraged to use open source by their school or workplace.

Many people have mentioned that their schools are making OSS (such as available as it is more cost efficient, and many of you have mentioned that you are using several programs (such as GoogleDocs, Scratch and Prezi) in the classrooms.  This made me wonder: how supportive are schools in using open source and how much support is given to the teachers who are using them?

Some of us also mentioned that although we like to help, we do not want to be the “tech guy”.  I wonder if the “tech guys” are as fluent in working with OSS as we want them to be – and should we hold them responsible for learning OSS as part of their “tech support”?  With so much open source out there – and maybe with my lack of tech savvy skills – I do not want to be one of them. =)

So – my question is – is there enough support out there or all we doing this because we’re amazing METers?  I know I have strayed from our OSS vs PS conversation – but I think support is a factor that also determines the choice of choosing one over the other.

October 25, 2009   2 Comments

NING help with RSS feeds

Hello Module 4 and Module 5 presenters.  If one of you read this in the immediate future, can you please give me instructions on how to provide the RSS feed from our NING site to this blog page?

Thanks in advance.

Erica Toombs

October 25, 2009   1 Comment

OSS can be good prep for MS in the office

“Opponents of OSS in schools feel that using applications like to teach students office productivity applications would put them at a disadvantage in the workplace. Do you feel that the skills students would learn on OSS applications can transfer to proprietary applications? ”

I think students can be just as prepared for MS Office in the office environment if they are taught the basic desktop publishing concepts with and several other such applications in the class. The idea is to teach them the basic concepts and procedures of planning, laying out and editing content giving them experience in problem solving by exploring the interfaces, menus and help manuals of several applications.

What inevitably happens for students taught with open or proprietary software is that they get to the office and the new version of MS software has a radically altered interface. Just compare MS Office 2003 with MS Office 2007, or compare Word Perfect with MS Word. As for other software, Macromedia Flash changed significantly each time it came out, and then was added to Adobe Creative Suite.

I admit that students would probably prefer the proprietary professional workplace software to in some cases create better product easier. Fortunately, there are trial versions to practice with before going to the workplace.

October 24, 2009   7 Comments

Students Learning OSS vs PS

Module 6 Blog Question: There is an argument that students should use proprietary software (like Microsoft Office) in schools as they will most likley have to use it in the work environment. Opponents of OSS in schools feel that using applications like to teach students office productivity applications would put them at a disadvantage in the workplace. Do you feel that the skills students would learn on OSS applications can transfer to proprietary applications? Take a look at, or other applications that could be used in schoools, and then post your ideas to the course blog.

 I’m not sure that it would put them at a disadvantage. Skills learned using OSS applications such as OpenOffice can be transferable should the student get a job in an organization using Microsoft Office. For example, in OpenOffice Writer, there is a toolbar with similar functions to MS Word and drop down menus. What I think is more critical is that in school the student learn to write effectively (grammar, sentence structure, expression of an opinion/thought, analytical writing). The application used to write with would be a secondary concern, with the thought that if you can use OpenOffice Writer than you possess computer skills and that the individual would likely be able to make the transition/leap to MS Word with a bit of assistance from the Help Function or tutorial.

October 24, 2009   4 Comments

FOSS/OSS in Public Schools

Blog Question: Would you support implementing FOSS/OSS in your work environment?

At my small secondary school, we already support FOSS/OSS use.  Our server is run with Apache software and is hosting Moodle for some of our classes.

On another note, the Vancouver Board of Education has now installed OSS software such as Open Office and Gimp onto board-issued computers.  I know there are some teachers, including myself, that aren’t too keen on the Open Office at this point because most of our computer files are MS Word-based.  Even though Word files can be opened with Open Office, often, some of the formatting is lost.  I think it will definitely take some time before people get used to it and start transferring files over to using these OSS software programs.  It sort of reminds me of way back in the day when there was the battle of web browsers…Netscape vs. IE.  I can’t remember how many times (lots!) that I switched between the two browsers as my default.  One would come up with new features and I would then switch to that one.  This went on for years until, of course, IE won out.  Now, I’m using Firefox. =)

In general, I would support FOSS/OSS in public schools; however, only if we were given more tech-support from our school board.  Last thing I want is to become the tech-support guy every time one of my colleagues has a problem with the OSS.  If that’s the model (i.e. teachers becoming their own tech-support) that the school boards are going to then I would not support it.

October 24, 2009   7 Comments

Thoughts about FOSS/OSS in Middle School

Blog Question: Would you support implementing FOSS/OSS in your work environment? In your post outline your environment and give some reasons why or why not based on what you have read and viewed in this presentation.

Hello Everyone:

After having read Module 6 and completed the ‘Open Source Technologies’ presentation, I would support implementing FOSS/OSS in my work environment.

I am a middle school teacher in the public education system. Here, I would want my colleagues, the school, and the students to use FOSS/OSS as an effective way of engaging in the teaching-learning process.

Also, because FOSS/OSS is gaining in use and in popularity, all three parties would be armed with knowledge, experience, and skill with FOSS/OSS, which would complement their knowledge, experience, and skill with PS.

Indeed, using both FOSS/OSS and PS would allow all three parties to decide respectively which they prefer, depending on the need.



October 24, 2009   3 Comments