CoSN Releases Second Study for K-12 Open Technologies Initiative


01.17.2007—The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released a new study in its ongoing series in the K-12 Open Technologies Initiative. The latest on covers Indiana's inACCESS program, focusing on the state's Linux Desktop initiative, which placed a number of Linux-based workstations in K-12 classrooms.

Rather than focusing exclusively on initial cost savings in implementing open-source technologies, CoSN's study also looks at the steps involved in using open source in meeting education goals.

"Educational leaders, especially decision makers in charge of technology, are not always aware of the pros and cons associated with using open technologies," said Jim Hirsch, CoSN board liaison to the K-12 Open Technologies Initiative and associate superintendent for technology, CIO at Plano Independent School District in Texas, in a prepared statement. "These implementation studies are great resources for helping educators explore and understand the issues involved in adopting open source and other technologies."

The second study in the series examines inACCESS program, which has placed some 22,000 Linux workstations in language arts classrooms. "This creates a one-to-one computing environment for a least part of each student's day in participating schools," CoSN said in a prepared statement. "In California's Saugus Schools, administrators were able to find open-source alternatives to most proprietary enterprise applications and systems. In both cases schools had to carefully research their transition to open technologies, test applications, and then communicate with the end users. According to the administrators in charge of these initiatives, the open source systems have proven to be reliable, robust and cost-effective."

"These two new open technology implementation studies provide educators and administrators with information from the trenches. So often, information about open technologies tends to focus solely on initial cost savings whereas these studies provide step-by-step information about how to use open technologies in support of educational goals," said Michael Jay, co-director of K-12 Open Technologies Initiative. "As education leaders plan for technology rich learning environments, it is vital that they think through the role open technologies play in achieving goals related to both education and the business of educating."

CoSN said it does not take a particular position on the implementation of open technologies but that its studies have shown open technologies to be viable alternatives to "more traditional approaches."

The K-12 Open Technologies Initiative is sponsored by Apple, IBM, Pearson Education, and the Wm. & Flora Hewlett Foundation. The initiative examines the K-12 use of open technologies such as open source software, open standards, open content and open hardware. Further studies are planned in the areas of open-source learning management systems, open content, and interoperability, according to CoSN. The full text of the first two studies in the series can be found below.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).