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Ubuntu in Education: Case Studies Panel - Sameer Verma

Sameer Verma, Associate Professor of Information Systems, San Francisco State University
Paul Alexander, Faculty, California State University, Monterey Bay
Brian Jamison, CEO, OpenSourcery, LLC

Track: Education
Date: Sunday, July 22
Time: 11:35am - 12:05pm
Location: c123

San Francisco State University's College of Business has a computer lab assigned to use Linux on workstations to provide students with a well-rounded experience of computing environments on the desktop.

Sameer Verma will describe the use profile of Ubuntu (Dapper and Edgy) in the classroom and lab environments working on multimedia projects. Future goals are the use of LTSP and LDAP from Edubuntu to improve centralized management of updates, upgrades, and account management.

In the second case study, Brian Jamison will cover the process and lessons learned when OpenSourcery successfully deployed 60 wireless laptops configured with Ubuntu Linux at a new charter high school in Portland, Oregon. Topics include:

Sourcing: how did we choose a vendor and what unexpected challenges cropped up?
Configuring: what method did we choose to configure the laptops? Was it the best choice?
Deploying: did we overcome Windows "resistance" and figure out how to give students and instructors access to Windows-based tools they needed?
Supporting: what interesting methods did the students discover to irritate their schoolmates and frustrate administrators? Was it possible to fix any of them? (The laptops, not the students.)

The third case study from Paul Alexander will explore the successes and pitfalls of using Ubuntu and FOSS in a higher education environment. California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) was ranked number 12 in US News and World Report's "Top 50 Most Unwired College Campuses" survey in 2005. Technology has been a core component of the university since its founding in 1995 but, as with most universities, proprietary software companies supply a majority of the IT offerings and students are encouraged to learn these technologies through required courses.

In a paradoxical twist, the University is a perfect target for Ubuntu and FOSS, given that it is committed to a Vision Statement that positions the school as a democratic institution built on a framework of openness, transparency, and shared governance. This drove Alexander to ask how Ubuntu and FOSS would be received when teaching undergraduates about technology. The result is a series of case studies that explore what it is like for first-time and experienced users to navigate the University using Ubuntu as their vehicle.

Rather than focusing on technical aspects of implementation, this presentation will explore how users, from faculty to students, react to using Ubuntu. Students will provide a unique perspective as first-time users of the operating system. In addition, case studies from faculty will include reflections on experiences dealing with IT and other campus entities responsible for computing. These reactions will be coupled with recommendations from the users about Ubuntu as a system: both its successes and its shortcomings when used in a higher education environment.