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Re: Doubts and question about the merging of LinEx in Debian Edu

On Wednesday 16 January 2008, José L. Redrejo Rodríguez wrote:
> El mié, 16-01-2008 a las 19:03 +0100, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis)
> escribió:
> > On Wednesday 16 January 2008, José L. Redrejo Rodríguez wrote:
> > > And the final problem is the desktop: Our students and teachers have
> > > been trained and using GNOME for the last 5 years, so we can not
> > > discuss if GNOME is better or worse than KDE: It just something that
> > > can not be changed and both desktops have to live together.
> >
> > The above is quite understandable from a technical support standpoint,
> > but from a pedagogical perspective regarding computer-literacy this is
> > IMHO just plain wrong and counterproductive:
> >
> > Both KDE, and Gnome (and any other current desktop) is makes up a WIMP
> > interface. Given similar configuration (regarding menu structure and
> > the like) a computer literate end-user should have no real dificulty
> > switching between one and the other for everyday use.
> >
> > Yet practically speaking a lot of people currently do have problems.
> > Mostly because they only have experience with one desktop and thus have
> > no experiental basis to differentiatie between the semantically
> > important interface elements and the purely visual or spatial
> > differences.
> >
> > By giving children (and teachers :) experience with multiple desktops
> > they'll quite naturally start to extrapolate which are the important
> > elements and patterns Thus yielding a more computer-literate person.
> I fully agree with you if you're thinking of using the computers to
> technical literacy, but, at least for us, the computers are in the
> classrooms as a tool for teaching. In some degrees there is a computer
> related subject, but they're there mostly to teach languages, maths,
> history, geography, etc. A music or geography teacher doesn't need
> (maybe doesn't have) to be a hacker. Really, when we're speaking from
> thousands of teachers (civil servants they all), from different ages, we
> can not through away the time spent in their training and the effort
> many of them did to know how to copy a file, modify a menu, or use an
> usb stick.

I agree that configuring the system is a step to far (especially in a 
multi-user netwerk environment where all the central configuration makes 
things complicated), there's no need to make everybody into a power user 
and that definately is not a goal that should be pursued by anything other 
then a computer course).

BUT things like copying a file, using a menu, starting a program, accessing 
a usb-stick, ... are _basic_ computer skils. 
Anybody lacking them is stuck with memorising recepies, and is quite simply 
not computer literate in any way shape or form (in the same way that 
somebody who's memorized a bunch of latin proverbs does not speak latin, 
though he can probably fake it to somebody equally or more clueless).

Any school that _routinely_ (a one-of use is something else) uses computers 
in their classes and fails to teach basic computer literacy in the process, 
is quite simply not doing it's job properly.

It's the modern equivalent of using books with lots of pictures and not 
teaching the kids to read, cause the pictures are clear enough. 
(While this is not an exact analogy, it's not hyperbole either, basic 
computer literacy is as important today as knowing how to read was a 100 
years ago)

> > > Happily, freedesktop.org initiative has made thing easier in this
> > > field, but there still some configurations very kde-related in a
> > > Debian Edu installation.
> >
> > Ideally we would make it easy for a school to give their students
> > experience with multiple desktops (and themes and widget styles) by
> > providing similar setups for multiple desktops.
> >
> > The hard part about that is deciding on how a desktop should be set up
> > in the first place.
> > Once you have a clear idea of "we want it this way, because of this
> > reason" implementing that vision in a particular desktop is a
> > relatively minor effort.
> >
> > The amount of desktop customization that debian-edu-config does is
> > minimal ATM, while my impression is that Linex has a put a fair amount
> > of work in that.
> > => I think documenting the linex vision, and consequently implementing
> > it for both KDE and Gnome (and maybe XFCE) is the way to go. That'll
> > give us one starting point from which to refine things.
> We have put a lot of effort in the primary schools desktops, for the
> secondary schools our desktop is (aesthetically) quite similar to
> current Debian Edu desktop. Only using gdesklets (GNOME Karamba
> equivalent) is an appreciable difference.

Is there any documentation of what ways LinEX customized Gnome, and the 
rationale behind those customizations? 
(If not I guess I'll hear that little voice going 'Use the source Luke' 
again :)

> I also fully agree on trying to get the same appearance in both Desktops
> (three with XFCE if someone wants to do the work), and I also like the
> idea of including both Desktops in the DVD (maybe installing they all the
> could be a good idea), but at the end, one default destkop should start
> everytime the user starts the computer and that's something we have to be
> able to choose (in some way) with the installer.  

agreed that setting a systemwide default is sensible,
but if at all posible there should be no barrier for users to trying out a 
different desktop
Cheers, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis)

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