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General Chat Thread, Windows penetration in General; Hi there, Does anyone have an opinion on what proportion of school laptops run some form of Windows - or, ...
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    Windows penetration

    Hi there,

    Does anyone have an opinion on what proportion of school laptops run some form of Windows - or, alternatively, what proportion don't, ie. use OSX or a Linux distro? Am I simply being lazy by assuming it's near 100% Have there been any substantial (or even nationwide) surveys?

    As a subsidiary question, and I ask here because I reckon ICT staff might have a more impartial view than teachers, to what extent does MS influence the provision of IT education? I work in the pubic sector, where "ICT training" provision essentially boils down to "showing people how to use Word, Excel and Powerpoint". Is that true for our schools as well? I know the KS3 national curriculum is platform neutral, but it would be very easy to substitute "ICT" with "MS Office" throughout the document.

    Or, are the staff sufficiently competent to be teaching ICT? Does their lack of knowledge translate into an MS dependency? Do support staff think that they could do better?

    Thoughts? Comments? Anecdotes? Brickbats? FWIW, I ask because my stepdaughter has more than once had homework which was fundamentally about learning to use Excel, and the laptop requirements and admin ownership for her school seem harsh to me.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    MS stuff is easy and known, training teachers is difficult and costly. Form follows function.

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    Zagadka (1st May 2011)

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    The kids in my place are taught pure MS office word, PowerPoint, Excel, publisher in year 5.

    Scratch, pivot, flowel and movie maker in year 6.

    Music tech, MS access and photo editing in year 7

    Year 8 its pure ms academy

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    Zagadka (1st May 2011)

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    Teachers can sufficiently teach our stuff but the curriculum needs an overhall

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    Zagadka (1st May 2011)

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    I've recently gone through a similar discussion with a charitable organisation where the argument fell as follows:

    "It was more important to provide 'skills' in known & recognised within business applications for the brightest opportunities in the future for the learners"

    As a strong believer in FOSS this is a difficult but valid argument to swallow and puts us all in a vicious circle of whether businesses need to become more open minded in their usage/expectations or whether edu will need to force this first. I suspect I know the answer though and it isn't edu.

    I was always one to recommend teaching "Word Processing" & "Spreadsheets" instead of Word & Excel simply because I firmly believe it's important for people to understand the underlying function/need rather than the brand name providing this.

    I've worked with organisations over the years that run as much FOSS as possible both to avoid often prohibitive licensing costs but also to widen the horizons where the functional need (ie, a word processor) is more important than the name on it.

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    Zagadka (1st May 2011)

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    LeMarchand's Avatar
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    OSX - a few (particularly in secondary), and I think the number is growing. Linux - a negligible amount. (Both from my experience and not "scientifically").

    MS's influence? It's still the OS that most are likely to use when they get a job, so I guess that it makes more sense to teach MS packages. However, and this is covered in your next point, most staff barely know how to use Office and are extremely resistant to both change and learning new software (unless it involves going on a number of courses that will take them away from class). I think any support staff that could and were willing to do better (and could see themselves as teachers) would be advised to retrain: better pay, a more secure job etc. On the other hand, although I may not always hold the highest opinion of some teachers, I wouldn't want to be one.

    Not sure what you mean by the draconian requirements of your daughter's school. Do they provide laptops?

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    Zagadka (1st May 2011)

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    Thanks to all for your comments.

    @SYNACK If form follows function, do I understand you to be saying that the function is to prepare our children for the job market?

    @LeMarchand The school arrange for the provision of laptops through an OEM, although the parents pay (through the nose -it's an independent). Most (all?) admin functions are then locked out so that, for example, connecting to a printer on the child's home network is impossible, IIRC.

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    SYNACK hit the nail on the head, teachers are trained on MS products. The curriculum and some of the tests themselves require MS software and the majority of the educational titles used across the curriculum are developed for windows only. On top of that the majority of workplaces will be using MS.

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    Zagadka (2nd May 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zagadka View Post
    Thanks to all for your comments.

    @SYNACK If form follows function, do I understand you to be saying that the function is to prepare our children for the job market?

    @LeMarchand The school arrange for the provision of laptops through an OEM, although the parents pay (through the nose -it's an independent). Most (all?) admin functions are then locked out so that, for example, connecting to a printer on the child's home network is impossible, IIRC.
    School should look at Xen client

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    Zagadka (2nd May 2011)

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zagadka View Post
    Thanks to all for your comments.

    @SYNACK If form follows function, do I understand you to be saying that the function is to prepare our children for the job market?
    I would love to say yes and in the idea world I would but this is not the case. The function is to get the job done as easily as possible while hitting as many learning objectives for testing as possible so as to look good with high test scores / pass rates. As most resources / tests / curriculums are based around 'Office' skills rather than the fundimentals of computing the easiest way to prep the students to be good little cogs in the machine is with the products that are standardised at almost all levels.

    I am just going to say that Office is better (more features/power/speed) than its competition but the fundimentals that they actually teach (which are limited) can be taught on most systems. Given Offices interface (2007+) and the amount of training materials that refferrence it using it is a no brainer. It is easier to learn, automatic vs manual (cars) type of difference and if all you care about is the end result in testing then it just makes sence.

    I am not saying that this is right but it is what is.

    To be fair to the school allowing printer installs is difficult without giving admin access which would be instantly multiplying their support time by a factor of infinity. This is another reason why I tend to lean towards Windows Vista/7 and big brand hardware as most usb printers will just automagicly install in the background off Windows Update with the right policies set and wireless network policies can also be simmilarly delegated. If they are still using XP their software, user training or knowledge is holding them back and will cost them in the long run.

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    We are 95% MS here, we have Macs for Music and small Linux servers (doing Basic stuff at the moment).

    Luckily we do have ICT Staff and some KS staff who are clued up and do a lot of the training, the Head of IS here deals with first day training every september and we have some one else who does the SIMs training. All I can say is, it is useful having other staff deal with the training.

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    I've seen one Y11 project take about 4-5 weeks to do. Its content - making a movie with Windows Moviemaker. Like that crappy little toy is going to be used in industry anywhere.

    There has to be more to IT than telling kids to Google information and pictures and stick them into Powerpoint.

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    Re Admin lockdowns: one of my (Primary) schools doled out 200+ XP (Home - don't ask!) machines with full admin rights to every pupil. I used to spend most of my time removing viruses, P2P software, unlicensed software etc etc. I can understand the frustration re printers (though surely work could be printed out to pdf, transferred to a USB device and printed out from a home machine) but the amount of work involved for the school otherwise would be huge.

    As for the costs of the scheme, let's just say the machines weren't exactly well looked after by all but a handful of families.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibbo View Post
    Its content - making a movie with Windows Moviemaker. Like that crappy little toy is going to be used in industry anywhere.
    I understood that there's starting to be a move towards web-based video editing - ITN were using a web-based system for in-the-field reporting a couple of years ago, I imagine the practice is spreading. It rather implies that any tool-specific training on is going to be pretty pointless, by the time secondary pupils actually get into industry their available toolset will have changed somewhat. I wonder if video-editing might actually be best taught via manual cutting and splicing of physical film - it's the UI paradigm used in most video editing packages, and would give pupils and understanding of what they were actually doing.

    As far as Windows' market penetration goes, we maybe have a rather skewed view - most school network managers take care of large-ish networks of mostly Windows machines all day, and probably forget that their average user also uses games consoles and mobile phones, probably as much if not more than a Windows desktop.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    To be fair to the school allowing printer installs is difficult without giving admin access
    You can set up a Samba/Ghostscript print server that uses a standard Windows Postscript printer driver (i.e. one shipped with Windows) to print to a PDF document, then have Windows pass that PDF document to whichever printer you want. All your clients then see every printer as the same generic Postscript printer which they already have drivers for.
    Last edited by dhicks; 3rd May 2011 at 12:47 PM.

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