It's these compromises that are going to cause the most problems and where the power trips come in.
I can easily think of a good reason not to install open office in addition to MS office. WSUS. You can have your security patches for office deployed easily and monitor the patch status of each machine. That's not to say you can't do it for open office, but if you already have the system in place for MS then you really need to work on the *advantages* of OO to offset the time required for implementation of a new software package.
The areas that are going to become contentious is when the "No's" always come back with a variety of lame excuses to avoid additional work. It would be far more acceptable to point out that you don't have the time now and to then try to compromise on a date for review.
I have Office 2007 and OO installed for all users, and I can think of many good reasons to do so that outweigh the negatives - but this will all depend on each individual network etc.
I'm sure some staff members could post something similar about me, but unless you hear both sides of how the issue was approached then you simply can't start throwing terms around like incompetent. I for example have specific times of the year when software deployment takes place and I don't like to make exceptions based on the whim of others.
There is a difference between rational discussion and the "I NEED THIS NOW! IT'S AFFECTING MY T&L" that gets thrown about when people don't always get their own way, often due to lack of forward planning.
The guy just wants to use OpenOffice on a few machines along-side MS office; this should be evaluated by the Network Manager just like any other piece of software for T&L regardless of what it actually does and regardless if its features closely match some other piece of software.
I did point out that I use OO (and also various other open source apps) because I didn't think that things like wsus support is a good enough reason - but this will be subjective, it can still be a valid reason.
Back to the OP
I assume you have put this request and it's reasoning into the department development plan, and when is your next OFSTED due?
Personally I can see no reason whatsoever for your NM not to install OO throughout the school.
We are toying with the idea instead of upgrading to Office 2007 not so much because of costs but for the reson that many staff are famililiar with the layout which 2007 changes quite a bit.
I suppose your school does not use moodle as it's VLE either? Unlike millions of others.
I'd be interested to hear your NM point of view on this topic too. Not wishing to sound rude but we do only have your version of the subject
There is no technical reason why you should be refused installation of Open Office to be working along side MS Office. However as people have pointed out, there will be other things that are not known on this issue.
If your NM has a policy in place where they only install software over the holidays then maybe OO could be added to a list of software to be installed. If he is flat out refusing to install it onto a networked computer, then pehaps he can suggest an alternative solution which will satisfy both parties?
Put simply your request is having the ability to use OO in your room. If the NM can provide this by any means he has given you what you want.
Transferrable skills (buzzword alert!) are actually about people being able to take skills and concepts from one task and use them in other situations. This makes learners (students *and* staff) more independent. The more independent they are, the more they can think for themselves ... the more competent and confident in ICT they become.
The upside of this is that you are less likely to get stupid calls about why powerpoint won't open that funny file called newbie.pages. (yeah .. I know, the .pages files is actually a containing folder and that is how it appears on a Windows box, but you get the idea!)
I would say that it is extremely important that skills and concepts are taught rather than specific applications.
mark (28th February 2008)
i think alan-d was pointing out that millions of schools use moodle, aka open source software.
and that due to the "insecure" nature of OSS your NM would never install it
In my opinion the NM has every right to refuse to install Openoffice. I think that if a teacher asked for it here we'd probably refuse it on the grounds that we have an equivalent product (MS Office) that has all of the functionality of openoffice. I would also argue against it on the grounds that it would confuse staff by having 2 systems that do the same thing. That and there's no guarantee that all of the plug-in macro's and add-on programs (mathtype) would work in openoffice. It also introduces the potential for compatability issues between documents made using difference software. eg. I could see staff saving document in OO file format then other staff wondering why they cant open them in MS Word!
At the end of the day it makes much more sense for the school to standardize on a single Office application to ensure compatibility and simplify technical support/training. I'm not going say one's better than the other but if the NM/Headmaster have decided on an Office Suite for the whole school to use I don't feel you are really in a position to demand an alternative just because you don't like what the rest of the school's using.
I would agree with you in saying that there aren't any security issues associated with open office (or open source software in general). We use plenty of opensource applications but I feel that where there are 2 products offering similar functionality a business/school needs to make a call and pick one or the other.
Last edited by flyinghaggis; 28th February 2008 at 01:21 PM.
He's not asking for it to be deployed around the school however. In such a case, the school and NM would be well within their rights to say that he's overstepping his bounds.
However, he's not asking for that - he's asking for it to be installed on the computers within the department - no need for network deployment at all.
It's unlikely that he's going to confuse himself by having both Office and OO available when he's requested specifically that.
The compatibility issues are precisely one of the problems he's trying to remedy! That resources they have are currently unusable.
The WSUS argument doesn't hold any water - WSUS covers barely 5% of the software we use here.
Very true - the problem is there is a thin dividing line between maintaining the balance between supporting T&L and the stability of the school network, vs. becoming obtuse just because you can.This is not quite true though. We are here to provide T&L resources while making sure the network is also reliable and secure. If you were just to provide everything anyone wanted for "T&L", which you could, you would also soon have a non functional or insecure system. It's all about the balance and the compromises each side make.
I've had many "disagreements" with staff when they've requested something that is hugely inappropriate, ill-founded, and simply not necessary - I'll stick to my guns & they tend to go away very annoyed that I didn't give in, spurting about me ruining their T&L etc. - when the truth is that they're simply misinformed and just being plain awkward. However, we're all aware that there are some NMs who are awkward and unreasonable just for the sake of it. From what we've heard, this is one of those cases. Short of the NM coming forward with some huge revelation on the matter, it seems an open and shut case to me.
Now, if the poster had come out and said - "I want it available because I think MS is a monopoly and OO is just so superior, so I won't use anything but, you must give it to me else I can't use Office apps for teaching because I refuse to" - then the school and NM would be quite right in their current response. However, in this case, he's providing a clear and consise case for why the software is required WITHIN his department only, and as such, especially if he takes all responsibility away from IT Services, refusing the request simply smacks of being pig-headed, obtuse, and highly ill informed.
The whole National Curriculum is trying to get students used to the idea that there are skills, concepts and that they have to understand what to use and when. There are additional things where it can be tied into vocational courses and work-related learning. Staff *have* to get used to being able to change because the rate of change within education is fast ... either they have to learn to adapt or they will go under, taking students with them. If it was a teacher digging his/her feet in about having to learn a new prodeuct they we would be scathing about it ... but because it is an NM it is ok? I think not.
But what about those students who don't use it at home due to cost or choice? Do you force them to buy MS Office? I don't think it is about MS office or OOo being better ... it is about allowing both to exist together.At the end of the day it makes much more sense for the school to standardize on a single Office application to ensure compatibility and simplify technical support/training. I'm not going say one's better than the other but if the NM/Headmaster have decided on an Office Suite for the whole school to use I don't feel you are really in a position to demand an alternative just because you don't like what the rest of the school's using.
Good point ... perhaps an examination of the school network to see if other free software is being used might blow the whole idea about OSS being insecure out of the water.I would agree with you in saying that there aren't any security issues associated with open office (or open source software in general). We use plenty of opensource applications but I feel that where there are 2 products offering similar functionality a business/school needs to make a call and pick one or the other.
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