keskiviikko 26. tammikuuta 2011

EduKemix - mind blowing approach on IT at schools

This blog is about a quest going on in Kemi, a city in the south of Lappland in Northern Finland. The quest has started with moving the primary and secondary schools of Kemi to use Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) system instead of the usual solution - standalone personal computers.

Now the project is searching a Learning Management System that 1) works well in a Linux desktop environment and 2) supports fully SCORM, a collection of standards and specifications making it possible to transfer learning contents from a LMS to another LMS supporting SCORM.

First some remarks about the basics in our philosophy.

The basic idea of LTSP is simple: instead of hundreds of PCs there is a server that runs both the operating system and software. Users use thin (or a little fatter) clients that load the operating system over local area network from the server. The software used is also run on the server. This solution is cost effective in at least two ways:

1) There is only one server or a cluster of servers that needs maintenance. As the clients do not have any software installed the maintenance is simple: just replace the faulty terminal. Some software might be run on efficient clients using its resources (this would be a fat or at least the fatter client).

2) Used PCs can be used as client machines. Just boot them over the network instead of the hard disk. You may even rip away the hard disk as it is not usually needed. Less breaking moving parts, more security and stability for less money. Using old PC machines is not as energy efficient as using real thin clients that consume only around 30 watts of energy in total. On the other hand the old PCs are already there and used machines are really cheap.

One might add the lower (usually nonexistent) software cost to the list. However, the cost of software is not a big issue when looking at the whole of the cost. Using Free Software is. In Finland the use of LTSP is spreading because we have schools using LTSP because it is economical and schools that are using LTSP for getting technological excellence and reliability for a reasonable price. This latter group usually buys or leases a turn key solution from a vendor. The interesting phenomenon is that the company that has the largest volume of clients is happy to co-operate with the DIY administrators and hobbyists. We are really living in a mutually beneficial network-like ecosystem here. This would not be possible with proprietary software. The cost of software is not the key issue. The accessibility of source code, right to use and alter the software to whatever purpose and other rights given to the user described in the Free Software Definition.

This is the recipe for lowering the cost of school IT while maintaining a high technical and pedagocical level or even making it better.

Why do we blog in English? That is because English is the lingua franca of computer literate people. We do need help and comments in our project and we also want to share the hopefully beneficial results with the rest of the world.

You are all very welcome to join the project. Follow this blog, give us comments, give us hints, ask questions - it is up to you!

For those who would like to read this in Finnish, here it is.

2 kommenttia:

  1. I think its a very important part of the "getting to know your fit" process and it will definitely make my final attendance decisions better.

    College Management Solution

  2. Unfortunately the link you included is not even close to the things we are searching in our project. It is a scool ERP, not LMS.