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The Ubuntu Girl
one girl's journey into the brotherhood of geekdom
An open source conference where almost no one knows Ubuntu 
2nd-Aug-2010 09:30 pm
ubu eye
Must admit it's kind of a refreshing change. I'm attending the Austin Moodle Moot right next door to Dell's headquarters this week. I signed up on my own but at the last minute got approval to take conference leave. I would have taken the time off and attended anyways as it's that important an opportunity for me. It's been way too long since I've been able to interact with real learning folks and even longer since I've been able to think about solving these very real problems in education. It feels good, very good to see a vibrant open source solution meeting the needs of end users.

Too bad there is no official Ubuntu presence here. You see I've long felt that open source enthusiasts have spent far too much time 'talking to themselves' instead of reaching out to audiences like this one. Ubuntu is well known by the Sys Admins and solution provider companies here but not so much by teachers, educators, even Dell who is here preaching that "Dell is fully committed to open source solutions." Wow, great to hear but when asked if that extended to the desktop and end users not just the server room, well, not so much.

To be honest, the end users here are less concerned about the solution being 'open source' but that they have found a better solution to solve their problems. This is a great opportunity for Ubuntu. The sys admins here already know that open source is better. The ones I've met are already using Debian and some RHEL under an academic license; they are ready to move to Ubuntu. I asked them what would it take for them to migrate. Some, not much; their RHEL licenses are expiring soon, others just some training wheels, a chance to play with Ubuntu - Show me the way they tell me. We need to be talking to them more.

Tomorrow Martin Dougiamas, the project founder gives us a preview of future of Moodle. And Dell will demo its full Cloud solution stack for education; built on Ubuntu!!! Dell promises more big announcements in the next day or two for education; should be interesting.
4th-Aug-2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
I recently started working with a non-profit that has deployed Ubuntu machines to 6 local charter schools and the two facts that immediately struck me:

1. The vast majority of teachers don't care what the software is (philosophies and "freedom" need not apply), as long as it works.

2. Teachers in California are so over-worked and underpaid as it is, they generally don't want to spend the time to learn something that's not dead simple.

Out of this the organization was able to get in the door by offering free computers and free tech support to contacts at each school who were desperate to get computers to the kids, but getting the teachers to use them required very straight-forward instructions and only use of the applications which were thoroughly intuitive to use. So far things have been going well for the deployments, but there are always new challenges.

It all sure has given me a new perspective on things, which I'm grateful for, I agree that much of the community spends too much time "talking to themselves" and I was certainly guilty of that too!
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