District of Distinction Award – Open Source Laptop Program

Penn Manor School District’s open source 1:1 student laptop learning program has earned a District of Distinction award from District Administration Magazine.

Every student in grades 7 through 12 receives a laptop computer running the Linux operating system, as well as dozens of open source learning programs. With 2,500 1:1 laptops in grades 7 through 12, and 1,500 Linux laptops in its elementary schools, Penn Manor supports the largest open source learning program in Pennsylvania.

Free and open source software has saved Penn Manor more than $500,000 in technology acquisition costs over the past two years. However, our program is about much more than technology cost savings–we empower students with root access on the school issued laptops, and encourage exploration, experimentation, and tinkering. Read about our guiding principles.

Key to the program’s success is a unique student technology apprenticeship program, an honors-level, independent study course where student technologists work alongside the district IT Team on repairs, software setup and instructional tutorials. The Penn Manor Student Technology Team has been nationally recognized, and was recently featured in the Red Hat Films documentary, The Power of Open in Education.

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The Power of Open in Education

Penn Manor: The Power of Open in Education, a short documentary produced by Red Hat Films, premiered on the opening night of Red Hat Summit 2015. The film features our current and former student help desk apprentices, teachers, and staff. Footage and interviews were shot during a whirlwind three day filming schedule in May 2015.

A huge thank you to the Red Hat Creative Strategy + Design team: Brett Abramsky, Elisabeth Effron, Rachel Rooney, and everyone at Red Hat. Your support for our students and teachers is deeply appreciated. The film is gorgeous, and a moving testament to how open learning communities help students reach new heights.

 

B is for Bandwidth

Blazing, brisk, breakneck, blistering–these words now describe Penn Manor’s Internet connection. The district just completed the installation of a new high speed network circuit that provides up to 1 Gigabit of Internet bandwidth. With 10 times more speed than before, the new circuit will help students and staff reach the online resources they need, without a wait.

Internet service is supplied by the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research (KINBER), a state-wide organization devoted to fostering collaboration through technology for education, research, healthcare, libraries, workforce development, government, and economic development. KINBER built and manages the 1,800-mile Pennsylvania Research and Education Network, known as PennREN. Dozes of Pennsylvania colleges and universities, as well as all 14 PA State System of Higher Education Universities are connected via PennREN.

PennRen LogoPenn Manor High School’s new network connection transverses Millersville University‘s campus to reach the PennREN interconnection. The circuit travels along fiber cabling originally installed 15 years ago as part of a technology partnership between Penn Manor and MU.

Before the upgrade, total district Internet bandwidth was limited to 100Mbs, which is roughly three times that of an average home cable modem connection. As district technology programs expanded, the old connection was simply incapable of handling the instructional and operational needs of 5200 students and 700 staff. A tenfold increase in network speed provides a much needed boost for instructional video and other bandwidth intensive web services.

We’re thrilled to partner with KINBER, and I’m exited about the new learning opportunities available via high speed connectivity and bountiful bandwidth!