Linux and Ubuntu at School

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Penn Manor’s open source, Linux and Ubuntu initiatives were the subject of a nice article in our local press. I’ve included the article text below. The original story is from the Lancaster New Era on December 7, 2011.

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Tech team slices expenses at PM

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hetsune miku hentai District’s switch from Mac to Lenovo producing sizable savings

BY ELAINE J. JONES, Correspondent

At $900 a pop, it’s expensive to keep an Apple on every teacher’s desk.

That’s why Penn Manor technology director Charlie Reisinger has implemented a district-wide switch from MacBooks to Lenovo notebooks and a free operating system.

On Monday, Reisinger laid out the facts and figures for the school board as part of the district technology update.

Reisinger’s “small but mighty team” of seven — including system engineers, building level technicians and a help desk assistant — oversee the 3,500 computers and 40 servers that maintain the district’s infrastructure. During the past year, the team has resolved 2,682 support requests, a figure that doesn’t include countless informal calls or requests.

The team also accomplished 20 major projects, Reisinger said, the most significant of which was swapping the Mac operating system to Linux.

“We need to find creative ways to afford a sufficient number of computers for our classrooms,” Reisinger said.

Linux is similar to Windows or Mac, with one major exception — the software is completely free.

“Free as in cost, and free as in libre,” or able to be molded to the district’s own purposes, Reisinger said.

The name Linux may not ring familiar like Mac or Microsoft, but Reisinger said it’s a major player in technology. Most notably, it’s the operating system underlying Android smartphones. Firefox and Moodle are Linux open-source packages, Reisinger added.

Further, many major companies operate on Linux — including Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, the New York Stock Exchange, Siemens and U.S. Postal Service.

And the cost of the Lenovo notebooks, the hardware which supports the Linux operating system, is only $385, compared with $899 for a traditional MacBook.

The district purchased 620 laptops at a savings of $318,680 on hardware alone. The district saved even more on licenses and software.

The Linux desktop program, Ubuntu, is a hybrid of Windows and Mac, said Reisinger, who distributed notebooks to board members for a demonstration.

The change makes sense, Reisinger said, because classroom computers are largely used to access web-based programs such as Google Docs, Word Press or Moodle. With the Linux and Ubuntu systems, the district will also switch to LibreOffice.

“Ninety percent of what we do is browser-based,” Reisinger said, eliminating the need for a commercial Microsoft Office program. Google Docs, he added, is reliable despite occasional time lags.

Reisinger said the team also considered purchasing iPads for student use, but with an overall project cost of $70,000 more than the Lenovo, it was decided that “we don’t need to be locked into the Mac price premium.”

Plus, Reisinger said, feedback from several of the high school students who have used the Lenovo notebooks, which have a five-year life expectancy, is positive.

The team also plans open a protected Gmail domain for students, though Reisinger expects most will continue to use their private email accounts. Unlike district employees, it is not feasible to provide district-hosted email addresses to students because of mailbox and archiving costs.

Reisinger told the board he believes the decision to drop Apple products is “a great path forward for providing sufficient, high-quality, affordable technology in the hands of students.”

“We live in a rapidly changing world,” Reisinger said, and technology is a “massive enabler” to changing classrooms.

For more information about the district’s cost-saving technology changes, visit http://www.pennmanor.net/techblog.

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Managing Technology Resources Course

This fall I am teaching a course titled “Managing Technology Resources” for Harrisburg University‘s Lancaster cohort. Tuesday was the first class meeting, and we had a blast. I am fortunate to be working with such a driven and intelligent group of practicing educators and IT professions. As part of the cohort’s Learning Technologies Masters of Science Program, the next 15 weeks will be a deep dive into the ocean of IT operations, planning and management. Along the way, we’ll surface to explore leadership in the context of instructional technology initiatives and professional development programs. I’m looking forward to a great semester.

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Internet Safety at IU13 Ed Conference

On Tuesday I paused my regularly scheduled vacation to present a talk entitled Online Safety, Security and Privacy: Surviving the Internet Underground at the 18th annual IU13 Education Conference. Approximately 30 teachers, psychologists, counselors and other education professionals were engaged in a fantastic discussion regarding multiple Internet security topics. Thanks to everyone who chose to attend my session–you were a great audience. Happy Summer Solstice!

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Bravo Pequea Valley

Pequea Valley School District is proactively planning for large-scale technology initiatives including a one to one student laptop program and a student information system migration. To help guide future decisions and programs, the district called up me to provide an independent strategic assessment of all areas of existing technology services. Over the past several months, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with the outstanding PVSD administrative team as we reviewed and evaluated district technology operations, infrastructure and staffing. Our work recently culminated with the presentation of the final strategic technology assessment report to the full administrative team and board of directors. Working with the stellar leadership team was an exceptional experience and I applaud the district for articulating a forward-thinking vision for classroom technology.

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