Re: [sf-uk-discuss] [Fwd: [kde-edu]: School-wide configuration: common solution?]

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Steve Lee

Feb 2, 2009, 3:16:19 AM2/2/09
I'm cross posting onto the SF MIS list as people there are working
with this sort of information for MIS, registry and admin solutions
(if they are still around as it's been very quiet for a while). While
the full SIF specification is completely beyond what you are looking
at, some projects have implemented equivalent subsets that may be of
interest for your point 2

In particular I'm thinking of ClaSS, FreeMIS and Schooltool.

Tom Hoffman of SchoolTool has also produced a light SIF tool
(mentioned in the MIAS archives).

Steve Lee
OSS Watch
Open Source Assistive Technology Software and Accessibility

2009/2/1 Richard Smedley <>:
> Although Tim's looking for developer input on a common
> way of handling various data for schools, I forward here
> in case there's also educator interest in contributing
> ideas...
> -------- Forwarded Message --------
> From: Tim Holy <>
> Reply-To:
> To:,,
> tuxmath-devel <>,
> Subject: [kde-edu]: School-wide configuration: common solution?
> Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2009 15:43:00 -0600
> Hello,
> I'm one of the developers for TuxMath, one of the Tux4Kids suite of
> educational programs. Over the last year we've begun to think about some
> issues in making TuxMath more useful for schools. I've contacted you folks to
> see if you've faced/solved similar issues, or whether we might have some
> common interests that could involve shared development (say, for GSoC 2009).
> Here's the background: TuxMath is an arcade game that helps kids practice math
> facts. Teachers are using it, and several have expressed interest in being
> able to configure, track, and otherwise administer classrooms of kids using the
> program. Here are some examples of some of the kinds of things we might want
> to support:
> 1. Managing "high scores" files by grade or classroom (we don't want 5th
> graders competing against 2nd graders)
> 2. Letting teachers set particular lesson files for kids to tackle that day
> 3. Letting teachers see how kids in their own classroom are doing on the
> lessons
> Doing this in a sensible way requires a method for expressing relationships in
> a school, i.e., specifying the different grades, the different classrooms, and
> the kids within each classroom. I've set up an architecture for some of this
> within TuxMath, but having done that, I realize that no systems administrator
> will want to configure an entire school's worth of kids in 5 different ways for
> 5 different open-source programs. So before I start thinking about building a
> GUI to administer this type of infrastructure in a more teacher-friendly way,
> it occurs me to approach other free software projects to see if there might be
> a common need for storing or managing information in a school- or classroom-
> wide fashion.
> The way I've set this up (for better or for worse) in TuxMath is to establish
> a directory hierarchy on the school server:
> school/
> Kindergarten/
> Mrs. Smith/
> Kid A/
> Kid B/
> Kid C/
> ...
> Mr. Jones/
> Kid 1/
> Kid 2/
> ...
> 1st grade/
> ...
> Many schools seem to run without any individual student accounts (all students
> log in to a "Student" account without a password), so these directories serve
> as a mock home directory (no password) for the kids. In cases where the
> students do have real home directories, the lowest level could of course be
> symlinks (on Unix systems) to their real home directories. The advantage of
> this hierarchy is that it establishes a natural mechanism for expressing
> relationships among the different members of the school, and so programs can
> then find classroom-wide configurations, etc.
> Clearly, there's no reason to have to set this kind of thing up many different
> times for many different programs (different programs can put their files in
> these directories), so I see a possible area of common interest.
> Is this (or something better) of potential general interest to developers of
> other open-source educational software. Is there something out there already
> that does this in a general way?
> If there is general interest in this, and it doesn't exist already, here are
> the components I envision:
> 1. A library (probably quite small) that helps individual games or other
> programs to access configuration settings, etc., from the school-wide
> configuration system.
> 2. A GUI administration program for assigning teachers and kids to classrooms,
> moving kids among classrooms, etc. Modeling on our current architecture,
> relationships are currently expressed as a directory hierarchy, so a lot of
> these administrative tasks simply involve setting up or moving directories; in
> other words, it's independent of the information that any particular program
> needs.
> One constraint: at Tux4Kids we support Linux, Mac OSX, Windows, and BeOS, so
> everything would have to be designed to be portable.
> If this is of potential interest, perhaps we could look into a project for
> GSoC (or just do it ourselves...).
> Best wishes,
> --Tim
> _______________________________________________
> kde-edu mailing list
> >
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