Now Serving: Open Source in Education

Rikki Endsley

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Mar 17, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

I finished grad school almost a year ago, and since then I thought a lot about what things I should cram into those tiny chunks of time that were previously filled with graduate classes. T.V. got boring much faster than I expected, so I considered opening a roller rink, I surfed the web for law schools, and I fantasized about opening a little cupcake shoppe (which I would name Cupcake Castle). None of these other side gigs would fit well with the day job, however, and I have no intentions of giving up this sweet gig.

Plus, now that my kid is a pre-teen, it's my job to ruin her life and "get into her business," so I set my eyes on her school, specifically the computer lab. I started talking with the technical director of the school and he was enthusiastic about moving toward open source in the classroom. Last week, the school board unanimously signed off on our plans, and now we just need to draw up a formal outline of our goals and how we intend to meet them.

Meanwhile, I started talking about my idea with other people in the open source community, and every single person I spoke with offered to help us. Kristin Shoemaker, Lisa Hoover, Zonker, David Nalley, and many other open source community members offered advice and resources. In fact, the Fedora Project already donated a few XOs to get the kids started, and members of our local user group offered to help by contributing their time and expertise, as well as help collect gently used laptops for the cause.

Pia Waugh also helped (perhaps inadvertently, but I'll take it) by posting Ubuntu training for educators on her blog. Pia recently held a training session for teachers, and she provided a list of resources for attendees as well as anyone else who is interested. Check out her blog post for the complete list, which includes Ubuntu-specific topics as well as links to other FOSS resources.

If you or someone you know is helping a school (or K-12-aged children) move to open source, please leave a comment or email me your stories. I'd love to hear what has worked – or not worked – for you. Oh, and wish us luck!


  • Qimo 4 Kids

    An older-kids version of Qimo is coming down the pike, when we have the time for development. But rest assured, it is in the works.
  • qimo

    I stopped by the Qimo booth at SCALE and it looks really cool. I asked about it at the booth but was told that it's currently geared toward younger kids. Would it also appeal to high school-aged kids?
  • Qimo

    Last November, my wife and I started a charity who's goal is to get computers with educational software to low-income and special needs kids. To that end, I created a custom version of Xubuntu, which we called Qimo, that includes open source games like GCompris, Childsplay, TuxMath, etc. Check us out at
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