The Ubuntu Linux Colorado Local Community Team (affectionately self-ascribed as CoLoCo) was recently given the opportunity to travel out to Copper Mountain in Colorado to assist one of our team members in presenting a 3 hour session at the Technology in Education Conference. Jim Hutchinson approached our team several months ago explaining that he had recently found himself converted to Ubuntu Linux and that he ran a thin-client lab at the high school where he works. From all of his experience, he quickly jumped at the opportunity to present at this conference concerning open source technology in the education realm. Jim even got so lucky as to land a personal meeting with Mark Shuttleworth and several other representatives from both HP and Canonical which led to our having enough equipment at our disposal to be able to setup a thin-client lab at the conference itself.
The presentation was originally going to have just a small portion of Linux introduction in it, but after our team and a good friend at HP (Thanks Bryan!) worked closer with Jim, it quickly became a huge demonstration of the power of Ubuntu (specifically Edubuntu) to the teachers, administrators, and IT personnel that were at the conference. Jim opened up with an introduction into the world of free and open source software (FOSS). After explaining all of the benefits of open source software, we gave each of the session attendants a copy of â€œThe Open CDâ€ ( http://www.theopencd.org ) which has a large collection of FOSS software available for windows. The teachers quickly fell in love with several of the applications (especially Stellarium!) while the members of CoLoCo walked around helping people discover the wealth of software available to them absolutely free of charge and licensing restrictions. One of the session attendees even mentioned that he couldn’t wait to install GIMP on all of the computers in his labs because he didn’t have to worry about licensing restrictions and no longer had to purchase copies of Adobe Photoshop! At this point the session took a short recess to give us a chance to prepare for a little surprise we had in store for all of the attendees.
When everyone returned, we instructed them to reboot their computers and to open the boot menu so that they could select a specific boot device. Approximately 10 people asked if they could participate with their own laptops and we quickly crimped down some extra patch cables and got them plugged into the network. What the session audience didn’t know was that while they were away we booted up a quad-processor thin-client server and had re-routed the network in the room to go through the server (which was now acting as a router). Before long, there was a pleasant orange glow coming from the room as approximately 40 laptop screens were sitting at Edubuntu Thin-Client login screens! We had transformed this windows lab into a fully functioning Linux lab in under 5 minutes! The excitement of the room buzzed as all of the attendees couldn’t wait to try out this mysterious â€œLinuxâ€ that they had heard so much about. After Jim explained what we had done to the computers, and that none of their existing windows installations would be damaged, we gave each attendant a login and sat back and watched each person quickly start to churn through all of the edutainment and productivity software applications that we had installed on the thin-client server. After the attendees were impressed at how easy it was to use Linux, Bryan (Our HP Rep.) gave a quick demo of the administrator capabilities of the thin-client server. He quickly impressed his audience of system administrators with the multitude of features available for controlling program and login access on each individual machine or the entire group.
After all was said and done, we handed out well over 50 Ubuntu CDs and also at least 50 copies of â€œThe Open CDâ€ ( http://www.theopencd.org ) to the session attendants. Throughout the session, we had a demonstration table setup outside the room with several laptops running Ubuntu and a large stack of fliers and CDs. At least 50 Ubuntu CDs were grabbed from this table as well! 100 Ubuntu CDs in 3 hours? Not bad at all! The general consensus was that the Ubuntu session turned out to be â€œthe cool sessionâ€ amongst all of the conference attendees for that day. We were the only session to have over 30 people that afternoon, and actually completely maxed out our room at around 50 occupants! The demand for open source software and Linux in the realm of education is clear and we’re glad we could meet that demand with information and CDs. Our goal is to bring several more in-depth presentations to this conference next summer and continue to grow the interest and knowledge of Ubuntu for teachers and their co-workers.
Click here to view the presentation slides
There is a collection of annotated photos of the session on flickr:
One Response to “TIE Conference Presentation”
[...] Team helped at the session and the Ubuntu booth. There are a couple write ups on the CoLoCo website here and here, and one appeared on page 11 of Issue 5 of Full Circle Magazine (and my additions to that [...]May 12th, 2008 at 10:02 am
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