Saturday, August 12, 2006

Linux Friday at Dumaguete Science High

Yesterday was Linux Friday as I gave a short introductory session on Ubuntu to Diane Pool of One Candle Schoolhouse, her two IT assistants, Ian and Loida, and Vic Jauculan of Dumaguete Science High School.

It was a pleasant bit of serendipity, actually. Last week, I promised to take Diane and her people through Ubuntu. Apparently, they have a stronger interest now that they have more computers and are more sensitive to licensing issues. This week, Injong Fortunato of DTI told me that they had turned over computers under the PCs for Public Schools (PCPS) to Dumaguete Science High School.

What to do? Well, put the two together, of course.

I promptly introduced myself to Vic, the IT lab administrator of Dumaguete Science High, and offered sessions on Linux. Vic was quite receptive to the idea and now it looks like all my Fridays until the middle of September are already booked.

The PCPS machines deserve a bit of comment: they're all running Fedora Core. I suspect I might even have been the source for those CDs as I burned a set for the implementing organization some months ago. Standard KDE desktop, but the implementors were nice enough to include a stripped-down version of Encyclopedia Britannica (accessed through a Java application) and a local copy of the Wikipedia.

I'm a little surprised, though, that the PCs were handed over without any training to the schools. Vic said he had gone through some Linux classes some months back, but too long ago for him to remember the specifics.

Yesterday's session was purely introductory. I popped in the Dapper Drake live CD and took them through the basics: accessing applications from the menu,, exporting to PDF, locating work files in the home folder and desktop, and saving to USB memory devices. That approach gave me a renewed appreciation for Ubuntu's simple user interface, something I already take for granted. It really does help novice users manuever much more quickly.

At the same time, the session also brought into relief the usual issues that I face when running introductory lessons like this. Questions pertaining to system administration -- adding new software, networking, and dual-booting -- usually crop up. This is from students who already have some experience with Windows. It gets a little troublesome, actually, because it diverts attention from what I want them to focus on, which is the end-user experience.

Overall, though, the folks were very happy with the stuff that I took them through. Diane was positively giddy over the drawing functions of and ecstatic about the Gimp. Vic was quite impressed with the science teaching software like Kalzium and Kig. Looks like I'll be doing more sessions with them.