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Blue Skies Thread, Open Source Schools' Miles Berry offers a radical response to the ICT funding cuts in General; ...
  1. #61

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    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).
    That is all well and good, but I think there are a couple of problems with that.

    First is what do you do if you have two products that are equally suitable and capable of performing the requirements of the end user? Product a) costs £25 and product b) costs £600. Now the reasons for buying product b) are "it's what we've always used before", "nobody in 'industry' uses product a" or "I know the brand name of product b but not product a". This is the same as buying Hienz Baked Beans becuase I know the Heinz brand name and not because they taste better than Tesco's Vaule Baked Beans.

    The other problem, is that we both know that money is a very powerful motivater here in education as well as in industry. When I started this job I drew up a development plan. The plan stated that we need around £100k-£120k pa to properly finance our ICT. I was told "no way never". The plan that got accepted was in the £80k-£90k p.a. ball park. Obviously cuts, such as some of the OP's suggestions, had to be made and that was before the change of governement and the new fourtunes of education ICT.

    Here we had a very real choice between - new MS Office Licenses, using Multiseat Computers or sticking with fat clients but not upgrading the TFT's. I tried to push OO.o has I thought, pre-SIMS, that was the best choice. In light of SIMS the last ICT suite was built using Multiseat Computers.

    Now we've had some issues with the Multiseats mainly due to 64bit and Windows 7 differences (we are 32bit XP everywhere else). So the teachers view that has problems with the hardware solution, they don't understand the technology or the fact that the problems we are having need solving before we move to Win7 anyway.

    So our ICT teachers now have MS Office, don't want Multiseat - so traditional fat client it is with no knew monitors. Guess what, they are up in arms because they can't have new monitors as well! Do they really think we have an endless pot of money to buy these things from?

    As I said above the real problem with FOSS is changing end user attitudes. I still think the usage of FOSS is primarily a geek thing. Dear mum would buy a copy of Photoshop Elements if she wanted an image editing package but wouldn't think of even looking for free product like GiMP. "If they are not being paid to create it, how can it be as good/better than the expensice $brand stuff?"

    Changing attitudes comes partially with exposure, thus my instance even after loosing the argument that OO.o stays on our network, but also through training. And as others have said it's these training cost that often mean it is better/cheaper sticking with the intially more expensive $branded products.

    I still don't think that placing a FOSS alternative along side every commercial app will foster acceptance or create transferable skills. The FOSS will just not get used and take up disk space. Transferable skills comes from the way the pupils are taught and that is a whole other fight.

    We are using Scratch here, it up take has surprised and pleased me. However I once heard a teacher proclaim "do not make any games with this - it is for animations" So no learning about using variables to keep score or collition detection here then....
    Last edited by tmcd35; 21st July 2010 at 08:22 AM.

  2. #62

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    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).
    I think one of the most important words in your paragraph there is 'should'. I agree, it shouldn't be down to money, but with education finances the way they are, it is. During an age of austerity, where budgets are being slashed to the bone, justifying a new piece of software because it has more educational use than a free product is pretty much impossible.

    ie. The options in many cases now will be 'free' or 'nothing'.

  3. #63

    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark View Post
    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.
    Just run SIMS over Terminal Services, then you can connect to and use it from a Linux desktop. You'll still need to license the workstation for Terminal Services (you'll probably need a Server CAL, too) and MS Office.

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  4. #64

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Just run SIMS over Terminal Services, then you can connect to and use it from a Linux desktop. You'll still need to license the workstation for Terminal Services (you'll probably need a Server CAL, too) and MS Office.

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    Alas, you need the TS-CAL, Device CAL and MS Office license, as well as the Terminal Server and it's Windows Licenses. Add all the costs up and the question becomes why do it? You're not saving anything and may as well have put a Windows fat client on their desk to start off with. Now if SIMS integrated with OO.o and run under WINE, well that would be a solution (there you Capita - a challenge for you!)

  5. Thanks to tmcd35 from:

    mark (21st July 2010)

  6. #65

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Alas, you need the TS-CAL, Device CAL and MS Office license, as well as the Terminal Server and it's Windows Licenses. Add all the costs up and the question becomes why do it? You're not saving anything and may as well have put a Windows fat client on their desk to start off with. Now if SIMS integrated with OO.o and run under WINE, well that would be a solution (there you Capita - a challenge for you!)
    You do save about £12 per machine as you don't need the desktop windows license. (Using schools agreement prices).

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    i knowsome parts of sime need office but it will work without office as far as im aware if all staff are doing is registers it only needs office for reporting dosent it?

    as to having both ms an oo on pcs i do but thats because i dont usually have a "blanket" licence for office so if oo is on tehm all then they have access to a decent word processor and if the machine has both it has both

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    You don't need MSOffice or even windows to use Sims Learning Gateway - it's fine for registers and most basic sims tasks.
    See point 2 - make use of web apps where available.
    Our basic strategy to see out the Tories is:

    Invest in wireless and network infrastructure
    aim to get everything running in a browser - host some internal, some cloud. ( vle, google mail, docs, calendars, youtube etc)
    Run some apps over Citrix
    Allow staff students to use their own equipment, phones etc.
    ???
    Profit


    Thus a mixture of OSS and propriety.

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    I think that the decision to use any application in schools should be a joint process between the SLT and the technical team at the school. It is a good idea to promote OSS, as commercial vendors are very proactive in promoting their products. Unless the school technical staff are promoting OSS, who is going to inform the SLT that there is an alternative? Miles post was designed to promote interest from a wide audience of people involved in using IT in schools.

    Our own school has been utilising Open Source Software (OSS) for at least 4 years and we have added loads of value to our network and facilities as a result. We have added around £20k worth of value a year. We started of with a single squid server integrating with AD and have grown from there. I am preparing a presentation on how our school adds value to teaching and learning and the school finances, that I intend to make public over the summer. The key I am supporting here is that we have added value to teaching and learning. we now spend more money on equipment and less on software, this is a fringe benefit and not the reason we chose OSS. Many of the OSS applications we use have equivalent functionality (many even exceed) and usability to proprietary systems we could have used,

    The technical elements of integrating OSS projects with our proprietary NOS and applications have been a very rewarding experience from our own technical team perspective. Our depth of knowledge has grown. The benefits of taking moodle and integrating it with AD and our MIS have been hugely rewarding to almost a very area of the school including learners, teachers and parents. When we decided to take responsibility for delivery and supporting OSS applications ourselves, rather than relying on third parties

    My own personal view is that many staff lack the motivation and backing to try something different. So accepting agreed support packages from third party vendors or Local Authorities is a low risk option, but these low risk options, often provide less freedom and flexibility in to how these packages can be implemented within the teaching environment.

    Using OSS is not an all or nothing approach. If some people need Windows to run their MIS, then let them. If other areas of the school just need an office application and web access, then why not try Linux. They key is getting them to integrate together which is perfectly feasable, as long as their is a willingess to at least try.
    Last edited by monkeyx; 21st July 2010 at 12:08 PM. Reason: typo

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    maark's Avatar
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    What OSS are you using? - I have setup moodle in the past but the Assistant Principal at the time said "if it is free it can't be any good" and would not be persuaded otherwise!
    Would like to use more OSS but unsure where to start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maark View Post
    What OSS are you using? - I have setup moodle in the past but the Assistant Principal at the time said "if it is free it can't be any good" and would not be persuaded otherwise!
    Would like to use more OSS but unsure where to start.
    I hope you told him that over half of the interwebz is run on OSS; Apache, mysql, php.... A big one being Facebook.

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    monkeyx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maark View Post
    What OSS are you using? - I have setup moodle in the past but the Assistant Principal at the time said "if it is free it can't be any good" and would not be persuaded otherwise!
    Would like to use more OSS but unsure where to start.
    We use a custom themed version moodle Houghton Kepier Learning Platform Moodle is the most widely used learning platform in the world. I agree that it can be an issue with changing the view that if something is free, then what is wrong with it! In relation to moodle we gave an in house presentation on using moodle and the SLT also saw presentations from several leading Learning Plaform vendors.

    Other software we use Xibo for digital signage, Zenoss is our summer project for monitoring servers et al. Our student email system is Zimbra offers Open Source email server software and shared calendar for Linux and the Mac. and this has a much higher level of functionality then Exchange. ie built in IM etc.

    Is there any software that needs upgrading or is due for a contract renewal? That is when I start looking for new deals be that OSS or non OSS.

    Tim
    Last edited by monkeyx; 21st July 2010 at 12:28 PM. Reason: typo king

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  14. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by maark View Post
    What OSS are you using? - I have setup moodle in the past but the Assistant Principal at the time said "if it is free it can't be any good" and would not be persuaded otherwise!
    Would like to use more OSS but unsure where to start.
    Air is free. Streetlights are in effect free. Software on a per additional copy basis costs nothing to produce.

    Come to think of it, school is free from the users (pupils) perspective. Presumably said Asst Principal has gone on to great things at the LEA?

    I do some work with a primary school in Leicester, one of their best ICT tools are a bunch of Ubuntu netbooks; if said Asst Principal is still around, possibly he should pop along and have a look...

  15. #73
    maark's Avatar
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    said AP is a she - I think she is a prinicpal now somewhere in leics. I know Leics community services used moodle to good effect.
    There are a lot of trainers you can get in for staff to help them. We have signed contract with its learning for another 3 years so can't use at the moment. Will have a look at a few other OSS ideas - at the moment we are all Microsoft based and it is working very well with sharepoint, exchange etc although the schools agreement is expensive. Would also be a good idea for the govt/LEA to negotiate better deals with microsoft for schools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Add all the costs up and the question becomes why do it?
    For consistancy, or as a migration strategy - all your desktop machines can be Linux-based, you just need to license the ones staff will be using SIMS on for TS / Office. I feel that SIMS works rather better over terminal services than locally - you can get it to authenticate with Active Directory so the user doesn't need to remember a separate password and you can set a separate password-protected screensaver timeout period so after, say, 3 minutes just SIMS switches to screensaver. Handy for teachers who leave SIMS sessions open on classroom machines.

    --
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  17. #75
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    OK, we've got as far as GConf replacing Group Policy - how close to Group Policy is it? Is it a good replacement? How granular is the control? Can I lock down the operating system as easily / well as Group Policy does?

    The next thing to ask (or maybe should have considered this first as authentication happens before Group Policy) what replaces Active Directory? Again how good of a replacement is it?

    Is there a WSUS equivalent?

    Would we need anti-virus for the Linux machines?

    Are there systems like Policy Central / Securus available for Linux? Not necessariy free, because not all software needs to be free.

    What's the replacement for RDP / Remote Help? VNC I suppose for RDP, but remote help? I know VNC can be used for remote help too, however I do not know if VNC can be made to ask the users permission before sharing the screen.

    I think we can safely say that MIS systems would run well on a terminal server.

    How are applications deployed in a centralised manner (GPO style, SMS, etc.)?

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