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

On Friday 18 January 2008, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 06:56:38PM +0100, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis) 
> >On Friday 18 January 2008, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:
> >> On Thu, Jan 17, 2008 at 06:34:29PM +0100, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis)
> >
> >wrote:
> >>> 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
> >>
> >> It might make sense for teachers to force a specific desktop on the
> >> students in some situations. If a class is being taught a common
> >> topic (rather than each individually working independently)
> >> differences in interface could cause too much distraction.
> >
> >I can see your point, but that doesn't stop a school from using Gnome
> >in one class, and KDE in another, and XFCE in yet another. (or Gnome
> >one day, and KDE the next).
> I do not want to stop schools from having choice.

I, I'm not saying we should enforce switching desktops, I'm saying we should 
facilitate it.

> and the school may have good reasons for locking down said choice for
> their students. 

the only 'reason' I can think of is ease of technical support, are there any 
other reasons to stop studens using kde over gnome (or the other way 

> >> An analogy would be that the students do not get to pick the math
> >> book to read - they all follow the same book for consistency.
> >
> >as I've said in my reply to Nigel and Andreas, the desktop is more akin
> >to the classroom then the textbook (which would be the
> >site/document/program used).
> I like your analogy better that my own.
> Using that analogy, teachers may have a good reason to avoid some
> possible locations to perform their teaching. I remember being taught
> english in a chemistry lab once in primary school, which was quite
> distracting.
> Even if I as a student might have found it "exciting" to receive
> knowledge in that (at that time) exotic place, my teacher might have a
> different opinion - from a _pedagogical_ standpoint.

keeping with the analogy, what I'm arguing is that a switch of classroom 
should not be something scary, if it is something is fundamentaly wrong.

Right now for most regular computer users that switch is extremely scary.
And that's largely because they've never been outside their one classroom, 
and have no experience with other classrooms.

> >> My point here being that if the _teachers_ say they have a need for
> >> consistency, then it quite possible makes good sense to respect that
> >> over "freedom of choice" for the students.
> >
> >I absolutely agree that you have to get the teachers on board, but I'm
> >also firmly convinced that this particular issue isn't usually looked
> >at from a from a pedagogical perspective, but from a technical support
> >one.
> >
> >(and in a school environment the pedagogical perspective should have
> >way more weight).
> Do I understand you correctly, that the feature of removing desktop
> choice for the students should be avoided for Skolelinux because we
> suspect teachers to abuse it for non-pedagogical purposes?

No, that's not what I meant:

I'm saying that schools should offer their students experience with 
different desktops (and browsers, and ...). Whether they do that by 
encouraging students to explore freely, or by (for example) using KDE in 
chemistry class, and gnome in math classs is a completely orthogonal 

Any scheme that gives students experience with different sets of software is 
good, and that's something we should strongly encourage (by providing 
similar configurations of both desktops and making it easy do offer both).

> I am not a teacher. But even so I can see pedagogical reasons for
> offering this feature to the school staff.

From a technical support standpoint sure, but pedagogical? Can you give an 

Using a different desktop should be no harder than using a different brand 
of calculator, or using a beam compass vs a regular compass to draw a 

Given basic computer literacy the choice of desktop has no bearing what so 
ever on any non-computer class. 
Absent any computer skills is a different matter (but if a school has 
students routinely using computers without teaching basic computer skills 
it is not doing its job IMO)
Cheers, cobaco (aka Bart Cornelis)

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