Building the Education Team

As @robb asked me here:

I’d like to build an Education Team so we can involve tech guys AND teachers to direct the options for educational purposes of NethServer towards a platform with features that teachers actually need in their day to day lessons.
@syntaxerrormmm @apradoc are the first people that come up to my mind /cc @rothere @tramamo @rodley

@robb is working on SavaPage and a Moodle module is already ready

We had many looong discussions on this topic





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Thank you @alefattorini for this topic.
I would like to invite all education guys to come over and participate in an official @education_team nethserver group. I see @apradoc and @syntaxerrormmm already joined that team.

@alefattorini can you add me to that team too please?

@jgjimenezs, @rodley, @tramamo, @rothere can you reply here and say if you want to join too?

My idea is to position NethServer as a source for educational applications like nethserver-moodle, created by @areguera
There are several applications that are great in educational environments. We could start with a list of applications that should get priority to make NethServer modules for.

Going deeper into educational options I see a great future in statistics for electronic learning environments. One of the pioneers in datamining for educational purposes is Salman Khan. Years ago he started www.khanacademy.org. In 2011 he gave a very inspiring talk at TED. There he showed what you can achieve with statistics in educational environments. The statistics part starts at 10min12sec, but you will not be bored watching the whole video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTFEUsudhfs
He is one of the people that inspires me to put time and energy in ict and education.

If we can build a group of people that share the idea of creating a great solution for educational purposes with NethServer, I think we can have the best solution opensource can offer for education.

I hope we can create several modules and introduce an education category in software center. I am convinced that with our combined knowledge we can make something beautiful.

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I feel honored about this and hope to be up to the tasks. At the moment, the know-how I have on education is based on our project for Linux and FOSS for schools, but we have some important projects here in Italy for FOSS in schools (e.g.: SoDiLinux and FUSS Project). We also try to involve non-tech people inside our project.

I would like to pose some targets for the @education_team. Some technical ones have already been layed out, but it would help to clarify and detail it here.

Thanks a lot @alefattorini and @robb :slight_smile:

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thank you @syntaxerrormmm for your support. it is highly valued and appreciated.
setting some targets is exactly what the @education_team is meant for: taking nethserver in schools to a higher level.[quote=“syntaxerrormmm, post:3, topic:5277”]
We also try to involve non-tech people inside our project.
[/quote]
That is SO important! We can think from our (narrow minded) technical view in solutions, but we actually need a lot of input from the people that actually need to use the solutions we provide. So we need to talk a lot with teachers and understand how their processes are. Ideally the tech guy has a master in education… but unfortunately in most of the times that isn’t the case. So we have to come out of our comfort zone and try to understand the way teachers work and apply that to the technical solutions available.
I hope you can give us the feedback of those non-tech people.

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I sincerely think this part of NethServer needs a push. Currently great work has been done by @mrmarkuz with creating the nethserver-savapage module. @areguera has created a nethserver-moodle module, but at the moment this needs attention.

The previous discussion about NethServer (modules) for schools is close to 100 posts. Also we all have grown a year more and have (at least speaking for myself) a much better understanding what possibilities we can expect with NethServer.
Taking the ideas from the first discussion:

I think all these modules should be fairly easily to implement in NethServer. We have some great community devs and also some modules with similar structure so cherry picking code from other modules makes creating new modules easier.

Another big wish for me to have available is a school and student management module. Now this looks like a real challenge. A few years ago, there were several tools that were very promising at that time. SchoolTool and OpenAdmin for schools were both quite complete, however, both these solutions have been discontinued. So looking for an alternative I have a few options:
GibbonEdu https://gibbonedu.org/
RosarioSIS: https://www.rosariosis.org/
OpenSIS: http://www.opensis.com/

Personaly I love GibbonEdu interface, however there is a huge BUT: there is no AD/LDAP support for users. I think this would be showstopper, unless we can mange to do some kind of export of AD/LDAP users and import those in GibbonEdu. Maybe even in some kind of daily or hourly cronjob.

SavaPage is almost finished. I am busy with Moodle 3.4 and probably will haras some of the @dev_team members soon… :smiley:

@syntaxerrormmm: how are you doing the student management with your project?

To the rest of the @education_team: what other educational functionality would you like to see available as nethserver module? What solutions are available for the functionality you wish? Is that application AD/LDAP ready?

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What about classroom management with veyon? LDAP/AD supported. They provide a centos package… EDIT: OK seems to be GUI only software so nothing for NethServer but maybe as download for the clients…

Is a kind of LTSP thinclient thing still interesting for schools?

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We are using SAMBA from NS 6.9, yet, and the standard user utilities included within NS and its webgui.

Still, I have the clear impression that, also if NethGUI tools to manage users/groups/shares are pretty straightforward, people in school don’t/are too lazy to understand the need to add/manage/remove users in a timely and autonomous fashion. Still, I do think this is not NS fault, but laziness of the people involved (or that we are too much supportive).

In case of mass modifications for users, we do have shortcuts to manage users by the means of CSV files (this is based on the script already present in nethserver-mail package, anyways): we understand that compiling a list of new users on a spreasheet (and eventually storing it elsewhere for removal) and let us do the import abracadabra is simpler for the schools than design a smart way to call users to remove them quickly from NethGUI. Not all are lazy: at least two advanced teachers have asked if they may be autonomous with the script just a week ago.

Also, another issue is with mass creation of passwords. We also have a scripts to create a list of password based on a dictionary (it simply joins two italian words with an hyphen; not-so-complex maybe but easier to remember than any casually generated password).

Really cool! I like the way they are using also LDAP to extract information on the rooms, unfortunately you need then to edit LDAP and create containers/OUs which is not possible natively from NS interface (yes, you can do it, but in a completely “free and zero-cost” solution like the one we provide to schools this is simply not feasible). This would solve, for example, the issue in which the client groups you create in Epoptes are user configurations, so you cannot share the groups you defined between different accounts.

We actually are using Epoptes on the clients, but this unfortunately works only on Ubuntu-based distro and

yeah, also it is possible to install it only on desktops (designing one of them as teachers’ one and installing there the server part).

Well, I have some requests that were made to me in these years, but they are not strictly educational related:

  • Quotas on shared folder per user (at least on profile/home folders) and being notified when quotas are going to be reached;
  • Software targeted to people with disability (like gSpeech), but this can be solved mostly with desktop applications;
  • Integration with LIM (Lavagna interattiva multimediale, which roughly translates to interactive multimedia whiteboard). Again, this can be solved with desktop software (like OpenBoard);
  • Internal wiki (that may also be an easy target);
  • Working printer sharing from the server (yeah, this is one issue in 6.9);
  • Proxy statistics (yeah, lightsquid; included in the Enterprise version, but not in the Community one).

I also like the list of software provided by @robb; I still have the impression, at least here in Italy, that teachers desperately need to be alphabetized on ICT/digital stuff, much more than to be put in front of a plethora of theoretically fantastic and useful software (they have fishing poles, lines, hooks and so on but they are unable to fit them together to start fishing and eat).

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I didn’t mention a classroom management solution yet.
I can think of iTalc for mixed (Windows and Linux clients) environments and epoptes for linux clients only environments.
I didn’t know of veyon yet.
Your point of being a GUI only solution makes sense. If you want to have a desktop in some way, you have to provide a desktop… :slight_smile:

LTSP client, might be an option, but I would prefer to opt for a real distributed desktop solution like VDI. What I could find is:
QVD: http://www.theqvd.com/

I was looking for Ulteo, but this seems to have been discontinued too… :frowning:
Any other alternatives? /edit: these might be interesting: http://myvirtualcloud.net/three-free-vdi-options-for-kvm-hypervisor/

@syntaxerrormmm: managing students with only Samba4 AD options in NethServer seems to have too little options. How are you managing grades, attendence, communication with parents etc… Not to mention reports for Educational Inspection bodies. All things a real student management system takes care of.

In the Netherlands and Belgium there are several commercial solutions where a school can manage the student(accounts) for a fee (most cases EUR1,- to EUR5,- per student per year)
The problem with these solutions is not the fee, but the fact you don’t know what the companies do with the data of the school and the students. Therefor I think a proper student management system is an absolute must to have in NethServer if we want to make this push towards education.

Your point on educating teachers how to use ict in their way of teaching is a very valid point. Very specific applications need specific howto’s and even lessons to get aqainted with the application. I followed a starters course on Moodle through the Moodle website: https://learn.moodle.net/
It gave me a ton of insight what you can do with Moodle and creating courses became a lot easier. I am sure, if you look around, there are many courses (either payed or free) for any application.

On the other side, I am in favor to teach generic ict skills and not application specific skills. No one is getting better in a ‘button-course’ for MS Word of LibreOffice Writer. It makes a lot more sense to teach how to create a proper document instead of teaching where you can find what feature in an application.

On the wiki request: There might be several options. I believe @stephdl has some notes on installing a wiki on NS. As a second option is to use the wiki module in Moodle. I think to remember you can have wiki’s for course, class and global inside Moodle. https://docs.moodle.org/34/en/Wiki_settings

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Now I understand your point. This is a goal we never set when we thought of our project: we just want to provide teachers new and free solutions to improve the didactics, not manage the whole educational environment.

So, on the topic, I am entitled only to learn from @robb :wink:

Same thing here in Italy: there are local companies providing services to the bureaus of schools but these are highly questioned, both from service quality point of view and also from the privacy POV.

I think the issue stems from the fact that politics (at least here in Italy) does not realize what FOSS is about (and I obviously do not refer to the “free as in beer” aspect); also in their mind proprietary software is standard and there’s no viable alternative (note that they don’t care to search for it, it is simply a dogma); privacy and security of data are constantly underestimated and underlooked, anyways, and this is profoundly worrying.

There’s an italian law which imposes to prefer FOSS software to proprietary alternatives inside Public Administrations. Still, schools for some reasons think they are automatically excluded: the issue in this case is that no sanctions are included in the law and no monitoring system was designed.

I completely agree with your point. I think both approaches are to be prosecuted (teaching specific applications and digital competencies, as someone calls them).

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Have a look at a video made by Gibbon dev Ross Parker, on how to install and initial configure GibbonEdu. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3w0Lo_AwZQ
Would we be able to hack into the user system so Gibbon gets the users from NS account provider? If we can manage that, I think we have an awesome Student/School Management System

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I guess we will have a VERY busy year when it comes to implementing educational features in NS. Just found another pearl: https://mahara.org/
There is an option to integrate/extend mahara with Moodle. Looks awsome!

I want just to point out that all modifications to lightsquid in 6.9 from Enterprise have been merged into the community package for NS 7.

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Very interesting topic on opensource.com
Direct question that comes boiling up: how can we make NethServer part of that?

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Let’s discuss it at FOSDEM18

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