Questions on a few things...

Story: Ubuntu, Macintosh and Windows XPTotal Replies: 5
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Mar 19, 2006
4:32 PM EDT
"Macintosh with OS X and Microsoft Windows XP have an advantage over Linux in the area of education where curriculum demands exists for things such as foreign languages courses. The inability to provide for educational demand holds Linux back."

I, and I'm sure others, would be interested in hearing more on this. There are a number of Linux distributions aimed at the education market (such as Edubuntu , an off-shoot of Ubuntu), and it's hard to know where to improve without a bit more information.

"Secondly, the continuous development cycle concerns companies like Adobe and Intuit whose cost could increase with every release and upgrade of Linux. Ubuntu has a six month release cycle and replaces applications and libraries continuously. This scares ISVs."

Understandable, but I think Ubuntu is trying to counter this with a long support cycle - 6.06 (aka Dapper) will have a 5 year support cycle, which to some extent mitigates this.

Thanks for a good article! Without logical and relatively unbiased comparisons like this, you never know what your flaws are or what needs improvement.

Mar 19, 2006
6:45 PM EDT
Sure. For examle, the Learning Company, Instant Immersion by Topics Entertainment, Inspiration Software, Zengobi, Riverdeep and on and on. Thousands of educational CD's and DVD's exist and they only play on Windows and Mac. Also, home schooling curriculum and Berlitz, etc. only available on Windows and Mac.

On the upgrade cycle, ISV's won't believe you because Sun and Red Hat have burned them by changing compilers, etc.

Mar 20, 2006
6:10 AM EDT
"For examle, the Learning Company, Instant Immersion by Topics Entertainment, Inspiration Software, Zengobi, Riverdeep and on and on."

These are brands. What do they _do_? A man going into a hardware store asking about shovels is probably really wanting a hole. If he asks for an Acme (R, TM, pat.pend.), you really can't tell what tool might be needed. (Note most of the "Edugames" at are under GPL)

Mar 20, 2006
6:57 PM EDT
hmmm as far as educational software goes.... its pretty bad unless anything's changed drastically.

I learned some things on logo on apple II's in first grade, and mavis beacon typing was fun for about 5 mins... and Iv'e never seen anything else that was supposed to be educational that actually was... Linux as your OS as far as I've experience just makes you learn more about what you are doing but as far as educational offerings (I've worked at Sylvan learnign center, and on the DD(x) training element) to me educational software doesn't exist in any form worth actually using... to be good educational mateial it needs to be interactive content driven and most of all not hurt the user's brain (this is probaly why I don't like them I've experienced too much bad ones) so as far as educational app's (not collabrative meeting software or glorified group chats, not games with facts in them a la Carmen Sandeigo) what is the eactly out there that you are refering to, that you yourself, or your kids, would use and learn from? I'm intrested

Mar 20, 2006
7:09 PM EDT
Things have changed drastically and with amazing rapidity.

Mar 20, 2006
7:40 PM EDT
You have me dusting off some old gray matter. My son was well into high school before I figured much out in GNU/Linux. The first computer he messed with was a Kaypro 1 (9" green screen luggable). I made a menu for him to be able to start programs by just typing a letter, but I can't recall what he chose most often. There were several of those scrolling arcade-like games to teach about typing and numbers. Something must have clicked because he enjoyed typing in WordStar. Just random words and sentences. Doom became his obsession later. The only educational use he made of a computer then was for typing and printing homework.

My daughter gravitated toward those Apogee shareware edutainment programs. When she was about 12 or so, she began using Linux and became fascinated with writing stories, illustrating them (first with PaintShop Pro by dual-boot, then with Gimp), and creating HTML pages from them. She enjoyed TuxTyping when she discovered it. She really got a kick out of warping her desktop; constantly changing the configuration of the thing. It looked and acted bizarre to me. The only way I could use her computer was via ssh. I think she tried every off-beat window manager out there. "How do you use that thing? It's a cluttered, cartoon mess!" "But it's so pretty!"

When I finally let her set up her own page on the Web, she went nuts. The thing was so graphics-heavy it took 5 minutes to load on our dial-up. She was helping fix things at school, too. Teachers came to her with dead Windows boxes or ugly HTML. By the time she got into high school, she had her own website and was learning PHP. She would spend hours "fixing" her site, then rip it all apart and do it again. She's a CS major now, on full scholarship.

I'm thinking educational software is for teachers -- to assist them in doing what they know needs to be done. That's where sites like EduForge, SchoolForge and K12Linux come in. Teachers can swap war stories and ideas there and make contact with developers who can implement those ideas.

For home, turn 'em loose with a system that _allows_ them to be creative beyond desktop backgrounds and downloaded icons. Set up a system that does the basics and let them make it their own. They will find their own interest. Don't stifle the creativity.

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