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QTL for IT Educators > News > Article Summaries > Current Article
Innovative students, teacher build Linux lab
November 18, 2003
(HILLSBOROUGH, NC) - ExplorNet/QTL™ Master Instructor Greg Thoyre wrote the book on Linux in the classroom -- that is, he authored ExplorNet's new Linux modules that show how Computer Engineering or Networking teachers can introduce their students to Linux and open source software. But the project has gone further than Thoyre or the staff at ExplorNet expected.
Orange High School teacher Greg Thoyre shows Washington High teacher Kimberly Mayo the Linux lab his students built from 'junk' donations.

As a Computer Engineering AND Networking teacher, Thoyre already had some knowledge of Linux and an understanding of its implications in the classroom when ExplorNet approached him in 2002 to help write the new Linux materials. He signed on for the project, and Red Hat chipped in free training that helped him begin to develop some expertise on the subject. Knowledgeable Linux volunteers and the web-based k12ltsp project contributed to his rapid learning and quick development of the ExplorNet Linux materials.

The Linux modules piloted with almost a dozen teachers last winter, and the modules were tweaked before ExplorNet offered Linux training to all participating and new teachers in Summer 2003. Along the way, Thoyre found that his students REALLY love Linux. It helped him provide more hands-on activities, especially during the sometimes-dry CET II curriculum. Most importantly, it seemed to deepen most students' understanding of computer engineering concepts. Though he spent significant time on a subject that is not directly tested (Linux content is optional for ExplorNet programs and is not included on North Carolina's state end-of-course exams) Thoyre's students excelled on the year-end tests. 80 percent 'achieved mastery' -- a big improvement from the previous year, and one of the highest rates in the state.

The Orange High students have built a prototype Linux classroom computer lab out of 'junk' computers and a strong Linux server. Some two dozen computers, including old 486's that couldn't be used for anything else, now run a variety of programs quickly and efficiently.

The setup was an eye-opener for fellow teachers who attended the Linux training at Orange High in October. Steve Kavli of Brevard (NC) High School says he immediately went back and started working on some Linux machines. Though the learning curve has been steep, the response he's had from students and administrators has been very positive. "Our School system IT director has encouraged us to set up a Linux lab and will give us machines to do it," Kavli says. "Next semester when we work on OS we will try even more."

More Linux sessions are planned for 2004, starting with one in Williamston, NC in February. ExplorNet subscribing teachers may attend for free. Registration is online at www.explornet.org/training.


For more information, contact Robin Fred via e-mail at or call him at 888.507.3800.

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