General Chat Thread, PC Pro - OpenSource is no good for schools? in General; I've just finished reading the article titled "Linux flunks high school" by David Moss and Jon Honeyball in issue 135 ...
I've just finished reading the article titled "Linux flunks high school" by David Moss and Jon Honeyball in issue 135 of PC Pro and was shocked at the outcome.
I expected an article to appear at some point, stating the benefits and drawbacks of opensource in schools but instead found an account of why it isn't faesable to contemplate using opensource alternatives.
There was little to no mention of how Linux can be implemented behind the scenes with ease, for example as an intranet web server or a proxy server. No mention of 'hybrid' solutions was mentioned either - Linux clients running remote Windows sessions, opensource curriculum clients and MS-based admin clients, etc.
Another assumption made is that we (technicians) have all received training in MS products - a fact that we know isn't necessarily true and if we weren't paying hundreds of pounds for the software we could maybe afford training.
The final point that angered me was this assumption that people are never going to be able to use anything but MS Office. OpenOffice is mentioned and it is thought that staff and students would require training and would find it hard to adjust. No mention is made to the fact that MS has big plans afoot to change the interface to Office in the next release.
I think that my letter to PC Pro will be penned shortly... hmmm...
As one of main online communities for IT Professionals in schools in which have over 300 members. Our We also held a very popular conference last year and plan to do two times in 2006. We are also working with Specialist School Trust in various projects.
Anyway needless to say our members we feel have good handle on what is going on in ICT in education and some members feel that your article was wrong so we would like to extend an invite you both of you to come and discuss your point on why you think open source is not for schools and you why you left out some of key areas where it is being used very successfully...
I haven't read the article yet, but will. I would say though that PC Pro aren't very "Pro" Mac or Linux/OSS- even though OO is on their A-List! That said, I think there is a huge difference between using OSS and turning to Linux as a full solution. An example is my trusty Dell laptop- XP Pro but running just about every OSS solution to a problem I can find quite happily (things like Apache, OO, Audacity, GIMP and even free AV a la OSS style).
I always get the impression that Jon gets out of his depth when it comes to non M$ situations, besides, at what level do non M$ office products not deliver the goods for schools? For industry (perhaps) where all oft he collaboration features may, or may not be used, but in schools where the most that they are going to do with a word processor is mail merge then OOo and Star Office are a fine choice.
@tarquel: David Moss works in schools and he weighs up the cost of re-training on opensource with the cost of his MS Schools' Agreement (which I personally don't think is a cost effective licensing scheme anyway - £27/year for Office, Windows upgrade and CALs compared to the price you can buy at with Select?)
To me, it just sounded a little one-sided and not much research had gone into the alternatives - can't wait for 'Mr Cutter Project' to read it
We were invited to use a Linux server solution and did so with mixed sucess for 3 years before jumping back to Windows platform. We had a very hybrid system with a Linux server some linux thin and medium client and windows 98 and XP.
Pupils used OO and MSO and moved almost seamlessly between the two,Staff were another matter with resistance to all computers let alone something that was 'different'. The lack of a relational database led us away from OO and the proponderance of teaching material based on MSO 2000 mkes using it for teaching a much simpler option. As a small school relying on remote support for maintaining our Linux server that found coping with increasing numbers of XP workstations we felt that a Windows platform was the best choice for us. Particularly as we wanted to run educational software across the network, Maths Alive, Metro Electro etc
That said 3 years ago Windows licences were £100+ and offices licences a simmilar ammount, both of these are now below £35 each following increasing interest in non MS products. I have no regrets about becomming involved in Linux and OSS and there are many interesting developments out there but some of the 'anoraks' involved in OSS must remember that ICT is a tool for learning in schools and ICT Technicians and co-ordinators have a responsibility for their systems to be reliable nd useable; for us Windows platform was the way to move.
Without some real enthusiasts and support from colleagues in school OSS will struggle to work for the pupils and school in general, If it can be embraced by the whole school then all well and good but in the majority of establishments it is for the hidden processes, proxy servers, cacheing and servers provided that you have local expertise, or not at all.
I have yet to read the PC pro article, I don't have the time, it is on the side in the kitchen but will do so, having read the threads above OSS and Microsoft have their supporters, I have a lot of time for the OSS movement and the pressure they put on Microsoft but for the moment I am with Microsoft but that will be reviewed next time we are in need of a major overhaul, for the moment I broadly agree with PC Pro, Linux isnt for front end users in schools.
I have not read the article yet, but I have to admit to not bothering with PC Pro anymore.
I got tired of it about 2 years ago as it was going through another spell of "if it isn't for *serious* gaming it is not a serious computer!"
Like a lot of magazines they seem to think their opinion is the be all and end all, and I got bored of it. I am not sure if they have changed editor since I last looked at it but I couldn't see the point on renewing the subscription if it was likely to go downhill again.
Personally, if they can't look at the pros and cons of a mixed platform then they shouldn't bother making comments.