Tom Hoffman and Tim Lauer

ETech 2005

Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool
15 minutes, 7.2mb, recorded 2005-03-16
Tom Hoffman and Tim Lauer
Schools need a system which is simple to use for the teachers as well as the students; one that is secure; which does not require dedicated tech support. And all this without using data servers because the powers-that-be frown on schools setting up servers by themselves. Tom Hoffman and Tim Lauer describe the challenges they have faced in doing this and how they have overcome them with SchoolTool, in their interesting talk at Etech 2005.

Is it really possible to build a school information sharing system under these constraints? Well if you mix Wiki, Ruby and Rendezvous with an equal part of skill, passion and serendipity you can.

Tom Hoffman has seen what schools need and what they can do with the power of open source software behind them. He talks about how a few web based apps could take care of many of the schools' smaller problems but are being prevented from doing so by the data silo that the Student Information System has become.

Tom Hoffman talks about his vision about how he wants to take this to the developing world, where these systems can make a real big difference and how he is providing opportunities for schools and developers to mix in lots of interesting ways.

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Tom Hoffman is manager of SchoolTool, an initiative funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation to create an open source IT framework for schools. Hoffman has worked as a public high school English teacher and technology coordinator in Providence, Rhode Island. He has developed applications for schools using Python, Zope, and RDF.

Tim Lauer serves as the principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. He routinely works with school administrators and teachers to plan practical, supportable uses of technology in teaching and learning. Having been a teacher for many years, he understands the real world of the classroom and the challenges to move forward technologically within tight budgets. In 1994, Lauer developed one of the first sites in the nation for an elementary school, and Buckman Elementary is still a landmark on the web. Besides his work as an elementary school principal, he is also an adjunct professor at Pacific University and Lewis and Clark College. He holds a Bachelor's degree from University of Oregon, a Master's degree from Wheeling Jesuit University.


This presentation is one of a series from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference held in San Diego, California, March 14-17, 2005.

For Team ITC:

  • Description editor: Arun Tanksali
  • Post-production audio engineer: Stuart Hunter

This free podcast is from our Emerging Technology Conference series.