Blue Skies Thread, Open Source Schools' Miles Berry offers a radical response to the ICT funding cuts in General; Originally Posted by TheLibrarian
Do you think there's any posibility of you writing an article or two about how and ...
20th July 2010, 05:27 PM #46
I second that to!
Originally Posted by TheLibrarian
20th July 2010, 05:34 PM #47
Aren't there any open source advocates out there who think you can use it to replace or augment parts of an existing system?
Why is it always Windows OR Linux OR Mac? Never a compromise, or a gradual shift between options.
FOSS people do know that MS/Apple licensing isn't actually very expensive for Education don't they?
20th July 2010, 05:43 PM #48
OK I take it back it can be called upskilling. I would broadly the agree with the ability of a school such as dhicks to provide a good education using open source software however have to disagree strongly on the no CPD part. If you have no CPD then you surely will need to provide a higher salary to compensate or you will never attract and retain people with the skills necessary.
Originally Posted by jamesb
Last edited by somabc; 20th July 2010 at 05:48 PM.
20th July 2010, 06:07 PM #49
Yes, although I'm only here for six more weeks or so - see job opening: Network Manager - Alton Convent School
Originally Posted by penfold
Vaugly, although that wasn't really relevant - you just go and search Google or whatever and figure out what you need to do, same as you would with any problem.
I am also assuming from the article that you had people with an experience of OS at the initial stage
The IT skills of the teachers here are about teacher-average.
and IT literate teachers who contribute to the development of the use of IT in the school?
Absolutly - and Miles, being the head, could get accross to the staff what they were supposed to be doing with the machines. As I've already pointed out, I think the Which Operating System argument is now getting largly irrelevent - Open Source doesn't neccesarily imply Linux (and Linux doesn't neccesarily imply Open Source), far better to concentrate on getting workstations that run a web browser nicly.
I also believe that given this scenario many of us would have been able to do something similar, but in my experience most of the problems aren't technical.
20th July 2010, 06:46 PM #50
Hey, congratulations, David!
Originally Posted by dhicks
What an interesting discussion.
Far, far too many points for me to respond to, agree with or rebut each individually.
Point 8, of the original list, is, of course the crucial one: "Empower your people". The state we're in is due, in no small part, to a culture of deprofessionalisation which has reduced teaching to the delivery of prepared and approved schemes of work and many gifted technologists such as yourselves to rarely more than tech support, at least where you've not be replaced by centralised managed services. The argument here is, at its core, about empowerment and the big-society vision of folks actually having the right/responsibility to do things for themselves. The philosophy that underpins open source and the principles of liberal, small government are closely linked - see George Osborne on YouTube (assuming you're not relying on a school internet connection).
Will this require us to do things that we didn't have to when all this was done for us? Yes. Sorry.
But it will be so much more fun, and you, and the teachers you work with, will get the chance to do so much cool, innovative stuff.
Please don't assume it's any harder either. Learning new skills, or teaching yourself these things, is kinda what schools are for.
If I were secretary of state, would I make every school in the country go open source? No. That's no more about empowering your people than making them pay for managed services that they don't want, cost too much and may not be fit for purpose (well, OK, it's a bit more about empowerment than that, but you get my point).
Would I want them to be able to make an informed choice from all the alternatives on a level playing field. Yes.
Would I expect schools to justify the money they spend on software and services when free alternatives are available? Yes I rather think I would. I suspect the current incumbent might too.
In truth, my original article could perhaps have coped with a few more 'consider's and 'compare's, as really this is about schools thinking these things through for themselves and making informed rational choices. That said, merely 'considering' or 'comparing' won't, in itself, save money.
OK. A few further points.
1. There is no money.
2. Even if there was, the DfE don't appear to care much about ICT.
3. There'll be much less done centrally in future - schools may have (semi) protected funding, but that's not true for central or local government
4a. The new academies and free schools are essentially independent schools, publicly funded.
4b. The schools that remain funded through the LA are likely to have more freedom and autonomy too.
5. Read Ofsted's report on The Importance of ICT, paying particular attention to all the bits that talk about value for money, alternative applications and operating systems and open source. Failing that, read my (biased) summary.
Last edited by mberry; 20th July 2010 at 06:57 PM.
20th July 2010, 07:34 PM #51
Well, here are my basic thoughts on this...
1, software - I'm very pro FOSS personnally but I've discovered that there are two real issues that are very difficult (not impossible) to over come. The first is platform integration, as I said above sometime we have to invest in certain comercial software combinations to properly support other internal systems (er, SIMS). The second is end user acceptance. I think FOSS is still something of a geek marketplace. Joe Public still thinks in terms of Microsft, Adobe, et al. I tried introducing OpenOffice here and met much resistance, enough to not want to suggest other alternatives such as GiMP or Scribus.
2, Web apps - I think there is much milage to be had here. VLE's, Sharepoint, Web based MIS, Google Docs, etc are the general future direction of school ICT. But I see these as supplimenting other local thick client ICT solutions. I think most schools are probably now on their way down this road anyway.
3, Replacing computers - Another point that most schools are already quiet adept at. I for one only replace ICT Suite machines and use a policy of reissuing old ICT computers to other areas. I'm also actively working on both Thin Client and Multiseat solutions to kep drive down costs and extend the replacement cycle.
4, Pupils devices - I would love to enable this. It's a fantastic idea, especially when coupled with 2) above. The problem, for me, is cost. I can't afford to make the infrastrusture purchases required to make this happen. In the face of ICT cuts coming from above this is likely never to happen here.
5, Internet Connection - I'm looking into this but as a rural school something tells me that the LEA provided 100mbps + 10mps backup isn't going to be beaten via our local BT exchange.
9, Volunteer Suport - my door is always very, very wide open....apply within
20th July 2010, 07:37 PM #52
Quite a lot of the points he raises in that article are actually key parts of our new system design.
- Opensource software - yes, lots of it and the latest batch of machines won't have MS office on them here as a trial. Of course there's always going to be some licenses needed, but we actually have students chosing to use open office because 'that's what they have at home'
- Web based applications - where possible yes!
- Keeping older hardware in use longer - definitely - we have 5yr old desktops that are planned to be around for at least another 2 years, and we are investing heavily in terminal server based systems for our new system.
- Allowing students own devices - a given for our new system. Any device that can run JAVA apps is basically capable of being used as a terminal on most remote desktop systems, and if you spend some time setting things up properly, the students end device is totally isolated on the network and thus the virus risk is very small.
There's no doubt about it times are changing, funding is drying up and thus schools approaches to money hungry resources like ICT will have to change as there simply won't be the money to, for example, religiously replace all your end devices every 3 or 4 years etc. In my opinion anyone who believes that in 5 yrs time your average school network will still be following the same model that they do now, or that the cuts won't affect them should stop kidding themselves.
Last edited by maniac; 20th July 2010 at 07:41 PM.
20th July 2010, 07:45 PM #53
I actually think that's the way most people think, I know I certainly am now!
Originally Posted by DMcCoy
That was the way I used to think, and to a certain extent still do. I don't see us replacing our desktops anytime soon with Linux, but I suspect over time I may be moving more and more of our backend to Linux, and when we can moving to OpenOffice (SIMS and ECDL being a sticking point here!) But as you say, MS for education isn't expensive, Server 2008R2 and Exchange are almost for nothing, but it's quite an eye opener how quickly the CAL cost mounts up!
FOSS people do know that MS/Apple licensing isn't actually very expensive for Education don't they?
20th July 2010, 09:22 PM #54
Sigh, I think the "Big Society" is going to be a disaster. As each school or indeed public service sets it's own standards it will become more and more of a lottery whether or not your school is actually any good. Some schools will attract donations for new equipment, new buildings, skilled parents will devote their time and resources to improve the school resulting in an excellent education for their children. The poorest children will go to a failing school on a council estate with 30-50% unemployment and no accountants, it professionals to 'help out'. Where is the social mobility?
The conservatives are moving toward the Victorian era. If you have money you can go to a good school, either private or in an area of high house prices. If you are lucky a charity or volunteers in your part of the country will provide a good school. If you are unlucky then you will get a very poor education.
Last edited by somabc; 20th July 2010 at 09:35 PM.
20th July 2010, 09:29 PM #55
My main gripe with this was on point 5 ... but that has already been covered enough times.
My other gripe is the constant harking on about getting rid of costly apps and going to open source because it is free. In fact Miles gave me the best ever quote on this as to how to explain things. Forget free as in beer (as changing the source code is fine and dandy for some folk but not for a 1 form entry infant school!) but consider it free as in kittens.
I loved that and have expanded it a little. They are absolutely lovely and fluffy and you are saving them from being drowned by a nasty person. You then need to feed them (unless you are using them to keep the rodent / bird population down I suppose), perhaps you need to take the to the vet for shots, etc ... and then there is the litter tray. Finally you need to have them 'dealt with' so that you don't propagate their kind!
Ok .. a little tongue in cheek, but the reality is that there are costs ... usually in time and training to make a complete move to FOSS. Even then you have to accept for some things it will not deliver.
And this is forgetting the single largest thing I will shout at people about the whole idea ... you should not say it is one or the other. You should be having both!!!!!! Transferable skills can only be truly embedded by having multiple apps / systems to use and by helping the kids (and staff) learn how to choose the most appropriate app / system. If you cut corners by going over to just one thing then we truly have lost focus and concentrating too much on the almighty pound!
As for free resources and free CPD ... it isn't free. It may be at no cost to you as an individual or school but it is at a cost to someone ... in my case it is at the cost of my LA during the daytime and me and my better half in the evening. I willingly give up time because someone has too ... but even things like teachmeets and the EG conferences cost money to set up and run ... it is just that those costs might not be directly passed on to you.
20th July 2010, 10:20 PM #56
EDIT: Sorry for the length - I seemed to enter ramble mode. Hopefully there is a point or two in their somewhere :-
Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
I think there are things FOSS does well - Apache for a start - and no doubt for a lot of schools looking at free/open source alternatives it the right places will solve problems and save money.
However, for some reason, the focus point of FOSS vs Commercial almost always seems to boil back down to OpenOffice vs MS Office. (God knows why as there is more to open source than OO.o).
Now you can shout as much as you like that we "should be installing both" but I'm going to disagree with you. The driving force behind migrating to FOSS alternative is to save money on licensing. In terms of learning transferable skills, that can be done on either product. That is more to do with teacher attitude and methology of teaching. If you are buying the licenses for MS software anyway - the question comes why upset the apple cart?
To my mind paying for MS Office licenses is like a bad nicotine habit you just can't quit. You just keep throwing money at it. In the case of MS Word vs OO.o Writer - they are both Word Processors that seem to me to work equally well. As far as I can tell you don't really need both installed, you don't specifically need MS Word installed (unless you are running SIMS ), and you don't specifically need OO.o Writer installed. What you do need is "A Word Processor" installed.
For me it's not about providing 100 programs that all do the same job, or paying out for the big commercial package because "that's what they use in industry" (sic). It about installing the right product that is capable of performaing the task required by the end user. If that is a FOSS product - great, if that is a comercial product - equally great.
I tried to initiate a move to OpenOffice here because we really cannot afford the continual license fees, and it's getting tougther with impending cuts. How erver I lost the arguement mostly due to the uptake of SIMS, but also because "thats not what they use in industry" . As a direct result we have to make budget cut else where in or ICT development plan. Good bye new TFT monitors with the next suite upgrade.
As it happens, I do now have both products installed. But there is three reasons for this. 1) document compatibility - OO.o can open some MS docs ths MS Office can't (go figure), and because of the switch over trial we do have some native OO.o docs around the system. 2) I want to promote the use of quality FOSS software. Maybe by having it availalble in school some kids will download and use it at home in place of the horrid MS Works (we can live in hopes). and 3) we do need to kick this nicotine habit. We are not going to kick the habit unless the end user gets on board and wants to move to OO.o and they are not going to do that if the software is not installed for them to try out.
Now that said, there is nothing stopping me from uninstalling OO.o tomorrow. We are paid up now in MS licenses and have a renewel plan in place for them. Having OO.o on the system is doing nothing in terms of teaching transferable skills. Yes it's there but the teachers involved are just not interested.
Now if the relatively small step of moving from MS Office to OO.o is fraught with so meny problems, heaven forbid trying to move the staff over to Ubuntu dekstops or using less well developed FOSS packages like Scribus. If I put Ubuntu on the library PC's because all they need/use in their is a wen browser and word processor It wouldn't last out the morning. The biggest struggle in moving towards using FOSS is end user attitudes and changing them!
20th July 2010, 10:22 PM #57
We do use a lot of open source/free software which does have a role, but there is no way we could go open source entirely in the school without impacting our T&L. For example, in our Technology department we use a lot of software that just isn't available to run on Linux desktops and there is no viable alternative open source product. Some of this commercial software we have bought, but a lot has been donated by software companies and specialist engineering companies we partner with, along with them providing their time and expertise in many areas. None of this could have been achieved if we went blindly down the open source route.
As for staff producing content and collaborating with other schools, we've tried this with teachers and in virtually all departments it failed miserably and cost the school a fortune in providing cover for teachers to have the time to produce the content. We found it was over 50% cheaper for us to buy in content and also promote one of our ICT Technicians to a web development role to spend time looking after the VLE and other web stuff. We now have a VLE that's used heavily and is very effective.
20th July 2010, 11:04 PM #58
@tmcd35 - don't worry about the length ... you've seen the length of some of my posts ... one reason I like twitter, makes me shut up! And yep, some important points in there too.
I know what you mean about the MS Office / OO.o debate ... but to me it goes down to things like GIMP v Photoshop, iMovie v Movie Maker (oh ... I like to concentrate on the 'Free' bit of FOSS ... should I have said that?), or Audacity v Garageband ... yes, there are financial constraints at times ... but in some cases it is like using a discus to teach someone techniques for shotput. It can be done, but is it a good idea? Hey ... let's just show videos of the shot put instead ... it is almost as bad as not letting kids do science experiments because of costs ... and yes, I know that happens too. No more tinctures of willow bark, it is just back to titration of copper (II) sulphate.
The driving force for any choice of software should never purely be down to money. The primary reason for choice should *always* be down to suitability to the client for delivering their core targets (being non-edu specific here) and in the case of most regulars (and especially in response to Miles) it should be about what will be educationally most beneficial. How else do you show progression? Scratch is fantastic ... but you can then take the kids onto Java ... or start making use of .NET through MSDN tools. GIMP goes on to Photoshop ... Publisher to Scribus (works the other way too).
21st July 2010, 12:23 AM #59
Although don't forget the device/user CALs if you're having them connect to a Windows server. My plan is to split our network in to a number of VLANs - one normal one, one for wireless, and one for thin clients. Any RJ45 wall points that are connected to the "thin client" VLAN can have a device plugged in and PXE boot a Linux distribution that will then connect to a TS server, giving us a precise way of controlling exactly how many device CALs we need. Oddly, we seemingly need to buy one all-in license for any amount of users to be able to connect from home, you just need to control CALs in school.
Originally Posted by maniac
21st July 2010, 01:26 AM #60
I think SIMS is the major stumbling block here. As long as we're tied into MS Windows & Office for staff machines it's very difficult to employ other OS's effectively alongside. Get rid of that hindrance and we're home free.
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