Weekly Blogs: Nov 3rd

a.       What was the most significant thing you learned in class this week?

I am excited about all of the online resources we were exposed to in class this week.  It’s gotten me thinking a little more broadly about what might be available and how I might use it in my classroom.  I also learned that the UWB campus is a Microsoft Word school.  As I am a Mac/UNIX person, this was initially disappointing to hear, but got me thinking.

b.      What questions do you have and what do you want to learn more about?

One of the things that seems to make online resources so useful is that they are, by necessity, cross-platform applications.  One never knows what kind of system the end-user will have, so the software must be developed to work in any browser on any operating system (or at least the most common possible combinations).  Microsoft products are, in my experience, less ubiquitous than they once were, and also represent a significant financial investment for large institutions.  With options like Ubuntu, that are stable, easy to install and use, and at least as powerful as the Microsoft options, why are schools not taking advantage of the cost savings on license fees?

c.       What applications do you see to classroom practice based on what you learned?

It is actually possible to run operating systems like Ubuntu from live CDs.  Ubuntu has free and easy access to lots of programs that would be very expensive in a Microsoft world, including a lot of math software and logic-based programming languages.  I also think that exposing students to different operating environments and providing them with an opportunity to learn to move across the different “thought paradigms” that underlie each operating system’s design would be a good way to begin to get them comfortable with different kinds of technology.  I have not owned or much used any Microsoft products since switching to FreeBSD in 2001.  After 8 years, I am finally noticing enough difference in their products that I think it would be useful for me to try them again, in order to learn what their new features are (like track changes, which is at least new to me), and then find or develop workarounds that can be used on other platforms.  I realize that one could simply buy Office for a Mac, but in my experience young people interested in computers don’t have the finances to invest in a Mac – instead they are turning to free options like Linux and the BSDs.  I want to be able to support this investigation, as I think it will help keep my math classroom a place relevant to this group of people.


1 Comment

  1. Robin said,

    November 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    This is pretty courageous 🙂

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