Argh! Just when I liked the direction Ubuntu was heading with graphics, I see the Lucid screenshots, and it looks like they are channeling their inner Mac. I like some of the new art and colors, although as I did previously mention I do like brown and orange, but these new left corner controls (close, minimize, maximize) will be replaced on my machine right away. So all the code jockeys for Ubuntu run MacBook Pros, I get that, but why would you change this across the board like this? Makes me seriously question Ubuntu and my loyalty to it.
It is rare that I publish something non-‘free’ or open source on this blog, but internet safety is an issue that every classroom teacher must deal with. With all the internet tools out there, great for educational reasons but alarming for other reasons, the US government will require that all students in districts receiving eRate funds receive internet safety training. eRate is the programs that provides basic connectivity and some other necessities to schools and libraries. You know the Universal Service Fee on your monthly phone bill? This is where it goes. For years the FCC who manages eRate, required participating schools to provide some way of blocking student access from pornography. Well, the easiest was to do that, of course, was filtering software/hardware. Now, though, they see that even with blocking pornography, students still access this at home and access social networking sites as well. Beginning in 2010-2011, they will require schools to providing instruction on using the internet safely, something we asked for all along.
One really good resource in doing this is NetSmartz (netsmartz.org). The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America are the two groups behind NetSmartz. On the site, you will find a large collection of videos, lessons, activities, and more all geared to students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement. I especially like how they separate teens from kids. This really would help teachers communicate with teens, as we know, they are much different from elementary school aged children. And while they offer all their materials under a Copyright license, as you can see below, it sure sounds like a non-commercial attribution Creative Commons license:
etSmartz materials are to be used unaltered and in their entirety for educational, noncommercial purposes. Under no circumstances are NetSmartz materials to be used for fundraising purposes.
If you are not yet working with your students on Internet Safety, now is the time. We all must take this responsibility, or else allow the children to learn ‘on the streets.’ While no one tool is perfect, NetSmartz resources definitely provide a great starting place for your classroom or district.
With the coming of Ubuntu 10.04, the Lucid Lynx, apparent the design team received enough criticism over the years that they will change the theming. You can see their new logo in this post, and can view more screen shots at Softpedia’s early review at http://preview.tinyurl.com/yh9bajq. What this initially reminds me of is Ubuntu Netbook Remix’s default theme, with the dark title bar. I actually use that on my desktops too.
I am probably one of the few to not mind the orangish theme they have continued to use. I also may be one of the few that would rather they put more into updates for the actually OS instead of worrying about theming. How about some tweaks to Gnome? How about more work on Flash video? I guess the team feels the OS is stable enough, so they can move into other areas. Or the complainers finally got to them.
I love open content. Free and free, as you well know. I really love my Nook, and while I do buy content from it, I also want to get free (as in beer!) versions of the classics on it. Many of them are already in ePub format over at Project Guttenburg. How though can we prepare more? That’s where YOU and I can both help! In browsing Project Guttenburg’s site, I stumbled across a link (http://www.pgdp.net/c/) to the Distributed Proofreaders site. It seems, much like how the spam-detecting comment system for blogs Captcha uses actual text to find words, DP uses a team to go through scanned books for proofreading. So far, the volunteers have completed over 17,000 works with 2,800 in process.
How can you help? Well, much like Wikipedia, the community involved takes this seriously. When you register, you must first read documents on their standards and give yourself a little review on punctuation and grammar. Then you can move on to the first set of quizzes. Yes, folks, they do take this very seriously! After that, you can begin actual work on books. At first, you work with a mentor who really mentors you, checking over your proofreading prowess to make sure you follow consistent guidelines. Eventually you can begin to do more on your own and eventually move from proofreading to formatting as well.
A great site and group of volunteers trying to digitize many lost books. As their site describes, US Copyright law (argh!) does not permit them to do many books, but they go into antique stores, flea markets, and other place trying to find books that are outside the realm of Copyright Law. Maybe eventually we’ll wise up in this country to make sure we preserve our greatest gift to future generations. Until then, join DP and help preserve those that we can!
I found a home for me! Somehow I stumbled across a Ning site featuring Ubuntu Educators. I really did not utilize Ning much until this point. I did use it when I went to NECC in 2008 in San Antonio, but my use kind of fluttered shortly after. I have a worker under me who utilizes a Moodle Ning pretty regularly and shares a variety of information, while learning much, but for me, I never found one that scratched any itches.
Until now! Somehow I stumbled across this Ubuntu Educator’s Ning (http://ubuntuedu.ning.com/). While I really and truly love the Ubuntu and Open Source Community, the focus is definitely on business use and programming. Small pockets exist, but they are few and far between. I try my best to bring in the educational use of these tools and OSs, like the Full Circle article, but I really wanted a place with educators. But I now found a home, and those of you thinking of trying out Ubuntu and Linux, check out the Ning. After a cursory look, this is definitely the place for educators! From very complex command line programming, to reviews of software, it already appears that this will benefit us! Join, join, join!