TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

TKL Fileserver -Elementary School lab Walkthrough

I am an elementary school computer teacher and tech coordinator. I have found that many elementary school computer labs run without a server of any kind.

I feel that file servers in particular are game changers for the student's lessons. Without a place to store student work, the lessons have to conform to a single session and must be printed or saved locally on the existing computer.

With multiple users using the same computer and the chance that a computer could fail, student file security is non-existent. With a file server, students can engage in long term projects by saving their files to a central file server for later retrieval over multiple sessions. Some examples would be power point or multimedia shows where development takes place over many weeks and file collection involves images, videos, and documents.

Financial and technical issues are obstacles in the elementary education field where 99% of the staff are trained multi-subject education and commonly have only superficial technical skills. Without a solid way to save files, they resort to multiple jump-drives and take the easy road to technical education sending kids to the myriad and endless edutainment flash sites under the premise of integrating technology into the curriculum.

Real technical education is not learned by slaying dragons to the correct answer of 3 X 4 or dragging and dropping fish to balance a scale. It is found by creating and saving files in powerpoint, excel, garage band, audacity or photo-story and by creating art in programs like photo-shop.

These are things that require a fileserver for file storage.

The point is, the TKL fileserver is ideal for bringing that kind of change to education in a Mac or Windows lab. To that end, I have created a fileserver of my own with TKL fileserver and documented each step with screenshots for use by other educators / tech coordinators to implement into their schools on my K-5 computer lab website.

I present it here in the interest that it may be useful for users here whether in education or small office / home office use. http://oakdome.com/k5/tutorials/free-fileserver-for-labs/free-fileserver...

Jeremy's picture

Very nice tutorial Steve

And you raise some good points.

Please excuse the following ramble. It doesn't have much to do with your tute, but some of what you wrote triggered these thoughts.

Perhaps I'm spoiled in my part of the world but in the Australian state that I live in, our Dept of Education (DoE) has a huge network with all staff and students assigned DoE network storage space as well as email addresses (with web browser or Outlook access). These features then follow you around while you are attached to the DoE (ie employed or enrolled) regardless of which school etc. This is available as soon as you are employed or enrolled (although young children aren't educated about it until a bit later).

So in that regard we are pretty lucky. As for teaching 'tech' though I must concur. Some of your comments cement some of my other concerns. I think we do our children a disservice by only showing them and teaching them the 'mainstream' software and operating systems. I worry that spreadsheets may become 'Excells', slideshow presentations are already pretty much "PowerPoints' and you often don't edit a photo, you 'PhotoShop it'. I'm not arguing that kids shouldn't learn to use these tools or the power they have, but I also think they should learn some of the other options. Especially the easily and freely available ones. I realise that you can't teach the full breadth and give them the full depth, but I do think you can give some balance. Besides if you want to truely engage kids, you'll want them to play with the ideas and concepts at home. Most children have computers at home these days, but very few have parents with a spare few hundred bucks so they can buy the proprietry software they are using at school. The result is often that many of the clever ones just learn how to pirate.

I think we do our children such a diservice having homogenous computer labs with either (Win) 'PCs' or Macs. Computer manufacturers aren't silly and along with many other marketers, they realise that children develop brand awareness relatively young and often the influence will be lifelong. Besides I think huge amounts of money is wasted on proprietry products. MS have my State Govt tied up with a long term supply contract so everything is MS. Its the ultimate deal for MS really as its complete vendor lockin. MS licencing has to be paid on all hardware owned by DoE so why wouldn't you use it? This results in all the IT techs only knowing MS, all the staff are only trained in MS but most importantly (for MS) all the kids are only trained in MS. As I said before the children become very brand aware and many assume that computers mean Windows.

So its not just about money. Its about equity and access, its also about truely educationg children about tech. Teaching them about whats out there, what its useful for. Its a bit like that cliche analogy about giving a person fish and feed them for a day, vs teaching them to fish and feed them for a lifetime. I think teaching kids how to use specific OS platforms and software packages is a bit like giving them fish! Whereas teaching them the underlaying themes and the breadth of what is available goes beyond teaching them to be consumers of technology.

Liraz Siri's picture

Excellent tutorial - can we move it into the community docs?

Steve, kudos on an excellent tutorial. This could be a great resource for newcomers to TurnKey and the TurnKey File Server appliance. We could link to it from the community docs, but ideally we'd go one step further and actually import the content whole into the wiki, with your permission of course.

We've had some bad luck before with external links dying out on us. There was a great PDC installation tutorial that was lost to the community a couple of months back. We haven't even been able to contact the author. His domain must have expired or something.

Sure

I am happy to contribute the tutorial to the community docs.

Jeremy's picture

Thanks Steve

That will be invaluable to TKL users I'm sure.

PS hope my rant didn't turn you off. I get a bit excited sometimes :)

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