Linux In The Classroom
While computers running operating systems from Microsoft and Apple have been the rule in the K-12 classroom environment, there is a move afoot to use Linux as a low/no cost, low maintenance alternative.
For a quick overview of what Linux is, start here.
An introductory article by Mark Rais summarizing the benefits of using OpenSource software in an educational environment, where budgets are often tight and staffing support is minimal. This article shows the stark contrast between a Microsoft based lab and a Linux lab.
Six years ago, Charlie Reisinger's school district in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania faced a problem common to all public school leaders: not enough money to bring powerful learning technology to students.
So they chose a different way – the open source way – and saved their technology budget more than $1 million, and allowed students to tackle authentic technological challenges and build confidence and work experience along the way.
What started with a few elementary school laptop carts running the Linux operating system and open source applications has grown into an award-winning, districtwide, 1:1 laptop learning program and student technology help desk — all built with open source principles and software at the forefront.
With the maturing of Linux desktop software, Linux can hold its own vs. Windows and Apple for ease of use. The days of the command line and a blinking cursor are long gone.
Edubuntu is a grassroots movement with the goal of getting Ubuntu Linux into schools, homes and communities. Their aim is to put together a system that contains all the best free software available in education and make it easy to install and maintain.
Edubuntu maintains a list of other educational Linux distributions currently available.
With its low cost and the free support provided by 1,000's of users on the Internet, Linux should be considered as a real alternative to a Windows or Apple computer lab.
One of the big advantages of the Linux is the ability to use older (a.k.a., obsolete) computers as student workstations. Check with the local computer recycling center or community service organizations. There are probably plenty of older computers that would work for your students sitting unused and collecting dust in garages and closets.