Thursday, January 29, 2009

Open Source and Education

I just read an article in Datamation by Matt Hartley in which he takes the educational community to task for not being quicker to adapt Open Source software. I tried to leave the following comment to it, but kept getting a message to "Enter a properly formatted email address." I was able to find a feedback form and left the comment there, but I don't know what will come of it, so I have to vent here.

Take a few minutes to read Matt's article and then you can read my thoughts below.


Matt, you may know Linux, but you have a lot to learn about the educational system in this nation and more specifically, the state of technology education. I've been working with educational technology and professional development since 1980. The reality is that the state of technology literacy of teachers in this country is abysmal. Technology integration and professional development is woefully underfunded and ignored.

Change in education is slow. It only took 25 years to move the overhead projector from the bowling alley to the classroom. Windows came out in 1985 and teachers still don't have a clue about it's workings, let alone how to use technology effectively with as a teaching a learning tool.

Yes, Linux is free. Yes, Linux is secure. Yes Open Office handles Windows documents. Yes, yes, yes, but until someone figures out how to come up with the money and time to bring teachers up to speed with the technology they have been using for the past 20 years, the answer will be no, no, no.

Linux might be the best OS to ever be built, but "build it and they will come", just doesn't work.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

So who pays for this?

Two weeks ago, I was giving a workshop for the some of the folks in the Delaware Department of Education. It was just one workshop in a series of workshops over the next two months. Since I agreed on a flat rate without charging for travel or food, I decided to stay at the Days Inn - Dover. It was located near Dover Downs, near loads of shopping, plenty of restaurants and only ten minutes from where I would be giving the workshop.

The stay was unexpectedly pleasant. The room was clean and comfortable. The staff was friendly and professional, there was free wireless Internet, more in room amenities that some four star hotels, and a free full breakfast that included Belgium waffles, all for $63!

Now I'm back to give another workshop. Having had a good experience before, I opted for the same hotel. As before, I booked online through, but when I arrived, they have some difficulty finding my reservation. After some digging, they found it, but it appeared that I had made the reservation for the wrong day. They had me down for the following day.

I said that I thought I had double checked the date, but it wouldn't be the first time I booked for the wrong dates. Heck, I've even managed to book myself into two different hotels for the same stay. The clerk double checked and read through the reservation, indicating that I had booked online through Orbits and paid with my MasterCard. The first thing that struck me as odd, was that I never use my MasterCard. When she read the last four digits, I realized that indeed I had NOT used my MasterCard, because the card number was not mine. Nor was the address on the reservation mine. Obviously, something was amiss.

The clerk was very accommodating and apologetic. She switched the days, but was not able to do anything about the card. She suggested that I call Orbitz when I got into the room and straighten things out.

I wasn't overly concerned about the situation, because I had a room and since she didn't take my card, I knew there was no way I could be charged for an extra night.

When I got into the room, I pulled out the paperwork I had printed out and packed away before I left home. It showed that I had made the reservation for the correct day and used my Visa. It was then it struck me that she had said I made the reservations through Orbitz, but unless is associated with Orbitz, that too was wrong.

So here I sit in a motel room, comfortable and warm, secure in the knowledge that all of my documents are in order, but puzzled about who will pay for what. Will I be charged on my Visa? Will someone else be charged on their MasterCard? Will someone else who booked with Orbitz with my exact same name arrive tomorrow looking for the room I took today? Will he get a room? Will we both be charged? Will the motel get their money? Did goof? Did the Days Inn reservation system goof?

I don't know who pays for what, but I'll let you know if I find out anything more, but until then, I'm still pleased with the service and the professionalism of the Days Inn staff and will see what happens when I come back for the third time next month. For now, I think I'll walk across the street to the Olive Garden for some soup, salad, and bread sticks.