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November 22, 2009

I've given a number of presentations lately around the general theme of "Rethinking Laptops and Learning". For those who haven't been able to attend (and even some of those that were) below is a compilation of links to related information and resources.

SaugusUSD SWATTEC Project:
SaugusUSD Linux on Netbooks:
Saugus K12 Social Networking Resources:
K12 Social Networking Presentation at Harvard:

Blog Posts and Commentary:
When do Laptops Become School Supplies? (Jim Klein)
Netbooks and Open-source: Rethinking Laptops and Learning? (Jim Klein):
Linux on Netbooks and Whiskers on Kittens (Karl Fisch)
Transitioning to 1:1 Netbook via BYOL (Wes Fryer)
The Value of Comment Moderation and Feedback... (Wes Fryer)
Quit Substituting Expensive EdTech Gadgets for the “Real Deal” (John Patten)

Key Open Source Projects:
The OpenDisc -
Elgg Open Source Social Engine –
Ubuntu Linux:
iTalc Project -

K12 Open Source Resources:
CoSN K12 Open Technologies Initiative:
Jim Klein's Open Source Pages:
K12 Open Source Help (Contractor):

Great Netbooks for Linux:
Asus EeePC:
Acer AspireOne:
Dell Mini:

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Posted by Jim Klein | 3 comment(s) | Share This

November 06, 2009

I was thrilled to hear from Tammy Parks at Howe Public Schools in Oklahoma that their teachers are beginning to spend some time with netbooks based on our open-source image from the SWATTEC program. It's been great to see the concept spread to other schools and districts across the country. I believe open-sourcing education technology implementation to be the most effective way to bring large-scale classroom innovation and lasting change to schools, and to drive student achievement into the 21st century.



More ...

Keywords: Howe Public Schools, Netbooks, Open source, SWATTEC

Posted by Jim Klein | 4 comment(s) | Share This

October 08, 2009

Ask any progressive educator the following question: "If you were to select just one tool to give to each student - one that you believe would have the greatest impact on their learning - what would it be?" Nine times out of ten the answer will be "a laptop." Sounds simple, right? And yet it's not. Why? Because, while we all recognize the potential of the technology to transform the learning environment, the implementation of individual student devices is fraught with complexity and impracticality. Those that have dared to tread down the path have been met with high costs, massive support requirements, and fragile hardware, all of which combine to create a toxic mix that, at best severely limits the technology's effectiveness in the classroom and, at worst leads to epic program failures that have been widely reported in the media. More ...

Keywords: 1:1, 21st Century Learning, FOSS, Free Software, Netbooks, one-to-one, Open Source

Posted by Jim Klein | 7 comment(s) | Share This

April 08, 2009

This last Thursday I had the opportunity to pitch the idea of parents purchasing laptops (Asus EeePCs) for our current batch of 4th grade students who are participating in the SWATTEC initiative, as they will soon be heading into the 5th grade. To be sure, this wasn't the first time I'd floated the idea, however it was the first time I believe it was perceived to be "real" to the administration team (principals and leadership), as the end of the school year is rapidly approaching and the components of the potential promotion are starting to come together. There was much insight and a lively discussion, which I believe will be tremendously valuable as we work our way through the possibilities. One comment, in particular, stood out to me, which I believe could be the greatest challenge to each of us as we move away from the model of school provided technology and into one in which students bring their own (which I believe to be inevitable). That comment was: "if we make that [the EeePC I was holding at the time] a part of the curriculum, then we must provide it to the students."

This, of course, got me thinking about exactly what part of "that" was actually part of the curriculum. And perhaps more importantly, what is "that" and how can we make it so that it does not interfere with or become the curriculum, so that the focus can be on what students do with it, rather than on the technology itself. In that sense, I think we are at a tipping point at which the fundamental components of a real technology infusion in the learning environment has the potential to become a practical reality for all of us, much more so than it ever has in the past. More ...

Keywords: 21st Century Learning, Learning Environments, Netbooks, Open Source, SWATTEC

Posted by Jim Klein | 121 comment(s) | Share This

October 15, 2008

This week I had the pleasure of presenting at the CUE/FETC Innovative Learning Conference in San Jose, CA. Once again, I presented on the topic of Open Technologies, in the form of a case study on our use here at SUSD. Since this is essentially a classroom-oriented conference, I decided to focus primarily on desktop and web applications, including our use of open source on PCs, Macs, and Linux machines, Green Computing Initiative, and web technologies. 

Enjoy this audio podcast from the session. Be sure to get the resources from my prior post.

[ Download - audio/mp3 ] 

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October 14, 2008

Today, I look forward to my presentation on open technologies at the CUE/FETC Innovative Learning Conference, entitled "The Value of Open Technologies." Rather than trying to fly up a pile of resources, I am posting the materials here for those in attendance (and even those who aren't but are interested.)

The first is a document I wrote about open technologies in general. This is a great resource to hand to administrators and other educational leaders to help them understand why these technologies are important.

Open Technologies In Education application/pdf

The second is what I call my "short list" of open source applications which I believe are worthy of your consideration.

Open Source Short List application/pdf 

And finally, a listing of the great open source applications on the Open Disc, which is a fantastic resource for teachers and students. 

OpenDisc Programs application/pdf


More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 2 comment(s) | Share This

August 18, 2008

Saugus has made significant strides in the use of open solutions in the K12 environment. From servers, to desktops, to devices, we deploy and use open-source software far and wide. But did you know that the use of open-source can have a significant impact on the environment? In fact it can! Take a look at these numbers from the The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator. Re-using just one computer and monitor saves:

  • 30 lbs of hazardous waste
  • 77 lbs of solid waste
  • 77 lbs of materials
  • 147 lbs (17.5 gallons) of water from being polluted
  • 32 tons of air from being polluted
  • 1,333 lbs of CO2 from being emitted
  • 7,719 kilowatts of energy 

This is roughly the equivalent of taking ½ of a car off the road and saving 68% of one US household's allotment of electricity for a year. These numbers are significant and certainly worthy of consideration.

Like every other school district, Saugus has a rapidly aging fleet of existing machines. Upgrades to the latest and greatest from Redmond would be costly and hardly worth the effort, yet these machines are completely viable as platforms for Linux. Even older Windows 98 machines are worthy clients for a K12 Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) setup. We have had great success working with these technologies for a number of years and, with this new data in-hand, plan to ramp up our efforts in this regard.

We are now in the process of formalizing and documenting our work into what we are calling our Green Computing Initiative. We intend to use this site to share information and best practices with the entire K12 community, in an effort to inform, educate, and inspire others to join us in this important endeavor.

K12 technology budgets are tightening while needs continue to increase, yet every year, schools simply discard valuable and viable equipment in the name of planned obsolescence and "minimum standards." These machines clog our landfills and pollute our water supplies when their useful life could easily be extended through the use of open solutions. Don't let fear stand in the way of opportunity in your district at the expense of the environment!

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Keywords: Green Computing, Linux, LTSP, Open Source

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May 13, 2008

Today I was referred to this excellent article by a high school senior from Plano Independent School District in Texas, entitled Open Minds with Open Source (page 46, should your browser not automatically take you there.) It was written by Alex Hirsch, son of Plano ISD's Jim Hirsch, who is a long time open-technologies advocate and former board chair of CoSN. I was particularly taken with his perspectives on open content and invasive copyright enforcement in our digital age: More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 0 comment(s) | Share This

May 12, 2008

Last Friday I had the pleasure of hosting a round table on the topic of open source software in education at Technology and Learning's Tech Forum West in Long Beach, CA. Our lively discussion included K-20 classroom teachers and IT people from both education and industry. Topics truly ran the gamut of open source, including desktop applications, security, deployment, perception, web applications like Moodle, and ultra-mobile devices like the Asus EeePC.

It's a little noisy, but I hope you enjoy the recorded discussion and, more importantly, will share your thoughts on the topic!

[ Download - audio/mp3 ] 

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Keywords: Open Source, Podcast, Tech Forum West, Technology and Learning

Posted by Jim Klein | 2 comment(s) | Share This

April 02, 2008

Below is a list of a few of my favorite open source applications for the desktop. Most are available for any platform, and many are available on the OpenDisc for Windows systems (which you can download here, or, if you are a Saugus employee, simply ask and we'll send you one.) It's important to keep in mind that these applications:
  • Are free
  • Can be given to students to install and use at home
  • Offer educators the opportunity to introduce new technologies in their educational environement
  • Provide essential skills that are transferrable to applications of similar types in the commercial world
More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 5 comment(s) | Share This

February 29, 2008

I've posted a video introduction to the SUSD social networking sites, the SUSD Teacher and Student Communities. This video offers a great overview of the sites, as well as a whirlwind tour of some of the ways they are being used within the district.

If you are reading this and are not a member of Saugus' staff or student body, take heart! The software is open source (of course) so you can download the very same software we used to create these sites for your district or school. Enjoy!

Posted by Jim Klein | 10 comment(s) | Share This

November 17, 2007

What a great session we had on Friday at the Georgia Education Technology Conference! As I demoed a dozen open source applications that are ready for use in the classroom, you could sense the excitement from attendees as they considered how they might apply them to their education environment. There was quite a clamor for OpenCDs and business cards at the end, so I think its safe to assume that the benefits of open technologies will be coming to fruition in classrooms all across Georgia in the coming year.

GaETC Logo 

For those who were in attendance (and even those who weren't) a copy of the presentation is below. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about any of the topics we discussed over three exciting days at GaETC!

GaETC Open Source Apps application/pdf 

More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 0 comment(s) | Share This

November 14, 2007

This week, I was fortunate enough to have been invited to speak at the Georgia Education Technology Conference (GaETC,) and I have to say, I've been thoroughly impressed. Georgia really knows how to put on a technology conference!


Dr. Curtis Bonk speaking at GaETC


I'm giving a total of three talks on open technologies, the first of which had a great turnout - probably about 80! It has been a thrill to see interest in the education community continue to grow. I think a lot of eyes have been opened to the potential of open technologies in the K-12 space.

Several requested access to the slides and other resources, so I have posted them here:

GaETC Open Technologies in the Ed Enterprise application/pdf

Short List of Open Source Software application/pdf 

More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 21 comment(s) | Share This

August 10, 2007

Article after article and post after post have compared and contrasted Xen, VMWare, Veridian, and a host of other virtualization technologies, with opinions on performance, management tools, implementations, etc., etc. in abundant supply. Inevitably when it comes to Xen, the story comes full circle with some sort of declaration about “data center readiness.” The definition of “ready for the data center” is quite subjective, of course, based largely on the author’s personal experience, skills, and their opinion of the technical capabilities of those managing this vague “data center” to which they are referring.  More ...

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June 20, 2007

Jay Pfaffman, an instructional technology professor from the University of Tenessee recently wrote an excellent piece which appeared on the LinuxInsider site entitled, It's Time to Consider Open Source Software. As can be expected, this generated a fair amount of debate and comment on the CETPA (California Education Technology Professionals Association) listserv, which revealed a surprisingly prevalent perspective that using open source software somehow equates to "switching" or replacing existing applications only. More ...

Keywords: CETPA, education technology, Jay Pfaffman, open source

Posted by Jim Klein | 11 comment(s) | Share This

May 01, 2007

At the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) conference last month, I did an interview with Managing Editor Dennis Pierce regarding open technologies in K-12 and CoSN's K-12 Open Technologies initiative. The interview was titled, Who's afraid of Open Tech? and you can view it online at ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 0 comment(s) | Share This

March 30, 2007

K-12 technology leaders from around the globe gathered this year in San Francisco for the CoSN 12th Annual K-12 School Networking Conference, which has been a resounding success. The K-12 Open Technologies Initiative, for which I am a panelist, was well represented this year, with a variety of sessions focusing on open technologies in the K-12 environment.

For those who attended (or wish they could have attended) my session on Thursday entitled Open Source Implementation in K-12: Case Study of Saugus, CA the presentation and supporting documents are listed below.

Thanks to everyone involved for all your hard work - it really paid off this year!

CoSN 07 Case Study Slides application/pdf
Open CD Support Document application/pdf
Open Technologies in Education application/pdf
Short List of Open Source Software application/pdf

More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 95 comment(s) | Share This

January 26, 2007

The following question was posted on a mailing list recently, and I thought it was quite relevant to anyone looking into Open Source Software (OSS.)

"I have been asked to investigate the use of open source software to replace existing proprietary packages. I would be interested in why you have or have not used open source software and, if you are using it, what you are using and how is it working. I am specifically looking at office suites, e-mail clients, and desktop OS. We currently use Microsoft Office, Exchange, and Windows 2000 and XP for our desktop OS. "

This sort of question is becoming more and more common in K-12 today. While the "whys" and "why nots" are important, approach is at least equally, if not more important than the "whys." My response:

We use open source extensively in our district, on both the server and the desktop. There are plenty of resources on the web discussing the effectiveness of open source in K-12 environments, but for backup regarding your specific interest, I would start with CoSN's open technologies web site at This site is aimed at K12 CTOs interested in open technologies, and has a particularly interesting case study on Indiana, which is well on their way through a significant desktop initiative.

That said, I would consider approaching this a little differently. People have a tendency to rebel when you use words like "replace" and "Microsoft Office" in the same sentence. Once an attitude of "we don't want that" has been established, it can be quite difficult to overcome down the road, when you are ready to make a big push.

We have found that a more organic, viral approach to implementation is far more effective (and better received) than pursuing a cut and switch. Get some open source software into your people's hands by passing out Open CD's ( at every tech related meeting you attend. Be sure to hand everyone a PRINTED copy of what's on the CD, and what it does (you can find a pdf on our web site, if you would like,) otherwise, the CD will get lost in a pile of miscellaneous other stuff and never looked at. Offer to put Linux desktop software on older machines and use them to build mini-labs wherever you can. Remove specific applications, such as Microsoft Office, from your tech standards and documents, focusing rather on skills instead of specific software packages. Deploy all your machines with OSS software pre-installed on them, and remove proprietary packages from your system standard, instead requiring that proprietary packages be specifically requested when ordering machines through your department. Offer training on OSS on staff development days, even mini-conferences or tech days. Unobtrusive, gradual exposure is the key.More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 1 comment(s) | Share This

November 03, 2006

As I sit in my hotel room at a California education technology conference, where I have been presenting and promoting open technology use in K-12 environments, it is difficult to quantify the shock of the recent announcement by Novell that they are, for all intents and purposes, partnering with Microsoft. While most commentary thus far has spun the deal as some sort of validation that Microsoft is finally recognizing the viability of Linux and OSS in the marketplace, or that this is some sort of response to Oracle's  Red Hat Rip Off, I see this as a new threat to open source of a greater magnitude than the community has ever seen. More ...

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November 01, 2006

The CETPA Conference is off to a great start this year, with lots of informative sessions for California technology directors from all over the state. It was great to see some familiar faces in my session today, Open Technologies in the Education Enterprise. We had quite a lively discussion, contemplating the implications and impact of all things open on the learning environment. If you attended my session and would like copies of the slides or support docs, links to the files are below:

CETPA Presentation Slides application/pdf
Open Technologies In Education application/pdf
OpenCDInfo application/pdf
OpenSourceProjects application/pdf

Thanks to everyone who attended! I thoroughly enjoyed the session, and welcome your comments or suggestions. Feel free to email me @

Watch this space for photos from the conference...
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Keywords: CETPA, FLOSS, Open Content, Open Source, Open Standards, Open Technologies, OSS

Posted by Jim Klein | 1839 comment(s) | Share This

July 08, 2006

Now that I've had a minute to digest all the information from the final day of the conference, I have to say that the experience was unbelievable at best.  I never did have enough time to really see what was offered in the exhibit hall, as the various one hour sessions took most of my time.  On Friday I spent a couple of hours volunteering for CUE at an "Ask Me" booth with a teacher from Texas.  Besides answering tons of questions from other attendees, most looking for directions, we had a chance to talk and share about our various schools and districts.
I made a point to be at Jim's presentation and take a couple of pictures.

Presentation board listing

Presentation listing

For more pictures and final comments click More ...

Keywords: NECC, Open Source

Posted by Arlene Anderson | 2 comment(s) | Share This

NECC 2006 has come to a close, and all in all, I believe it was quite a success. ISTE did a great job of organizing and planning the events, with plenty of options for every interest and skill set. If there was one criticism I have of the conference, it would be that there should be a bit more scrutiny of the sessions, and that the schedule needs to be reduced to specific tracks in key interest areas. Wading through 20-25 session options on overlapping time schedules during any given hour was a bit unnerving at times. Fewer, more focused sessions with proven speakers along track lines would be a big improvement.

Yesterday, Mike and I participated in a BOF (birds of a feather) session More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 0 comment(s) | Share This

March 29, 2006

Yesterday (3/27) I presented on Open Technologies in the Education Enterprise at the annual TechEd International Conference and Expo in Pasadena, California, to a great crowd! Several requested electronic versions of the presentation and supporting documents, as well as links to additional resources, which are attached to this blog post. Thanks to everyone who attended and took part in this lively discussion on open technologies!

I would also recommend the SUSD Open Technologies pages at for more information about our specific experiences, as well as great resources and advice about migrating to open technologies at your school or district.More ...

Posted by Jim Klein | 0 comment(s) | Share This

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