High School Goes Open Source, Outfits Every Student with Ubuntu Laptop

Posted by


16 Flares 16 Flares ×

High School Goes Open Source, Outfits Every Student with Ubuntu Laptop   linux class 500x236

It’s abundantly clear that technology plays a huge role in education these days, as we’ve already seen with the Samsung School initiative and the increased used of online media for teaching. Whereas most other schools look to Windows and Mac for their student computers, one American high school is taking an entirely different direction: an open-source direction.

Every student at Penn Manor High School has been given an Acer TravelMate laptop loaded with Ubuntu 13.10. That’s over 1,700 laptops being distributed to the student body and, what’s more, all of the students are being provided with full sudo access to their computers. What this means is that they are granted effectively superuser level security privileges to do as they will with their TravelMates.

In fact, the school is encouraging students to “install software and lift the hood of the system to better understand what makes it tick,” said district technology director Charlie Reisinger. “Linux offers so many opportunities to explore computing, programming, and the arts.”

High School Goes Open Source, Outfits Every Student with Ubuntu Laptop   linux 500x280

While this move could prove to be something of a hindrance for students when they need to transition back into a more mainstream computing environment, the experience and knowledge could be great for students who move on to careers in IT, like systems administration or work related to web servers. By encouraging them to tinker, students may be better equipped at solving their own problems, as well as collaborating with a larger (open source) community.

It’s not too shabby that the district stands to save at least $360,000 in licensing fees alone either.

Via Linux.com and Penn Manor Tech Blog

About

Michael Kwan is a freelance writer who also happens to be a professional gadget geek. From smartphones to digital cameras, he's gotta get 'em all. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelkwan.

  • rayebersole

    While they will spend $400,000 in defending lawsuits from parents when students go to sites or do things they shouldn’t and protecting their network from the pretty smart hackers among those students. I don’t know about their planning of this, but it isn’t a wise plan.

    You can tinker in a controlled environment and as you mention the mainstream does not use Linux for everyday use. What are the students that need MS Office or other Windows software going to do? That licensing they are saving on could be used for teaching real skills to the mainstream students for the real world. That includes a lot of networks, where Microsoft owns the server business. If you want to teach Linux, as I say do it in a class offering, for the minority, which Linux is.

    I my district role, I have yet to have to use Linux more than 2 or 3 times with some proprietary system.

    • Guido Fawkes

      I think the obvious takeaway here is that the students don’t *need* Windows; it is just one product offering in a marketplace full of product offerings. Check out some of the other free products that do the same things, like Google Docs, OpenOffice, NeoOffice and LibreOffice. Better yet, do a Google search for “microsoft office alternatives” and find what products are currently available.

      Spending public funds on Microsoft’s products has more to do with the laziness of teachers who don’t want to learn a new program than any legitimate *need* that the student use a particular product.

      • rayebersole

        You are so full of it with the statement “Spending public funds on Microsoft’s products has more to do with the laziness of teachers who don’t want to learn a new program than any legitimate *need* that the student use a particular product.”

        You have no clue about what is the need or the need of the teacher wanting to learn new things. They have to learn new ways to teach every day. They have to keep up with the technology, they have to keep up their certifications and the new Common Core to teach. We throw new programs and technology at them all the time and don’t hear one gripe. They maintain and get through it.

        The real world uses Microsoft, not Google, not Open Office, not open source in offices around the world in any percentage that would substantiate using anything other than a Microsoft program to teach them. We have more than our fair share of other technology in the Middle and High Shools for programming, AutoCad, engineering, etc. that teach students about what is need in specialized fields.

        There is no need to use anything other than MS products and the amount of funds going to them is nothing close to normal consumer pricing. Plus, Office365 education is free for the full suite AND they get a FREE subscription to Office 2013 and upgrades until they graduate from school on their home computers.

        Cost, really? Got anything better?

  • rayebersole

    While they will spend $400,000 in defending lawsuits from parents when students go to sites or do things they shouldn’t and protecting their network from the pretty smart hackers among those students. I don’t know about their planning of this, but it isn’t a wise plan.

    You can tinker in a controlled environment and as you mention the mainstream does not use Linux for everyday use. What are the students that need MS Office or other Windows software going to do? That licensing they are saving on could be used for teaching real skills to the mainstream students for the real world. That includes a lot of networks, where Microsoft owns the server business. If you want to teach Linux, as I say do it in a class offering, for the minority, which Linux is.

    I my district role, I have yet to have to use Linux more than 2 or 3 times with some proprietary system.

  • rayebersole

    While they will spend $400,000 in defending lawsuits from parents when students go to sites or do things they shouldn’t and protecting their network from the pretty smart hackers among those students. I don’t know about their planning of this, but it isn’t a wise plan.

    You can tinker in a controlled environment and as you mention the mainstream does not use Linux for everyday use. What are the students that need MS Office or other Windows software going to do? That licensing they are saving on could be used for teaching real skills to the mainstream students for the real world. That includes a lot of networks, where Microsoft owns the server business. If you want to teach Linux, as I say do it in a class offering, for the minority, which Linux is.

    I my district role, I have yet to have to use Linux more than 2 or 3 times with some proprietary system.

16 Flares Twitter 4 Facebook 11 Google+ 1 Reddit 0 Pin It Share 0 Email -- 16 Flares ×
More in Digital Lifestyle
sammy_screamer-6
Sammy Screamer Could Take the Pressure off Parents

As any parent can tell you, children are sneaky. And quick. And when you combine sneaky with quick you get...

Close