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 Jun 11, 2007 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
* Linux in Schools

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Personal Stuff/Random News focuses on a school district that are pleased with how Linux is turning out. They have some interesting things to say about employee management and communication during the transition - and it doesn't show well for some common complaints against linux advocates.

"From a management perspective, it was debilitating and counterproductive," Ferrie recalls. However, looking back, he places the blame for the staff issues squarely on himself and the other administrators.

"We didn't do a very good job of promoting the system," he says. "We kind of just expected that [the staff] would see the wisdom of it without understanding it very well. We were dealing with people, not machines, and one lesson I learned is that people are still the biggest component, and you've got to engage them. In all fairness, we were asking them to do a lot."

As Ferrie and other administrators realized the problems their overenthusiasm had created, they began to work with the IT staff rather than seeking confrontation. And, slowly, the staff came around. The district paid $25,000 Canadian to bring in a trainer for two weeks, and paid for staff members to take the Linux Professional Institute Level 2 tests. "It gives them somewhere to hang their hat," Ferrie says, explaining why the district paid for staff certification. "It's something you can take to the bank" and use in other jobs. For a year and a half, staff also had half a day off every week for personal study to hone their skills.


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