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MIS Systems Thread, The UK Government and MIS Systems in Technical; @CAM the problem with IE was that it was closed and had a huge percentage of market share. Just like ...
  1. #31


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    @CAM
    the problem with IE was that it was closed and had a huge percentage of market share. Just like Capita does now (80%IIRC). If a central body provided funding for an opensource MIS it would open the market, not close it.
    To suggest that opensource would somehow stifle competition is misleading.

  2. #32

    Geoff's Avatar
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    I would rather the Government simply publish the specifications and standards (open and freely of course) detailing how the expect a School MIS to work. Then let free market economics do the rest.

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    I would rather the Government simply publish the specifications and standards (open and freely of course) detailing how the expect a School MIS to work. Then let free market economics do the rest.
    You mean like ATF, CTF, census, SIF...

  4. #34

    Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    You mean like ATF, CTF, census, SIF...

    Heh. I dare you to construct a usable MIS given that information.

  5. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by CyberNerd View Post
    @CAM
    the problem with IE was that it was closed and had a huge percentage of market share. Just like Capita does now (80%IIRC). If a central body provided funding for an opensource MIS it would open the market, not close it.
    To suggest that opensource would somehow stifle competition is misleading.
    If there was one centrally funded MIS given away for free, which met all school requirements, it would effectively kill any commercial MIS development.

    The reason something like say, Open Office, hasn't done this is because Microsoft Office is in many ways better, and has better support. With the same funding as a commercial office package gets for development, support and so on, and no cost to customers you would quite effectively wipe out any commercial value in developing office products.

    Look at it like this - if the government funded training for school network managers to a high quality, and offered them free to schools with no conditions or provisions, how many network managers would still be in a job except those that the government was providing?

  6. #36


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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    If there was one centrally funded MIS given away for free, which met all school requirements, it would effectively kill any commercial MIS development.
    I disagree, having an open system - no matter how it is funded will inevitably increase competition.
    I don't think anybody was advocating that govt. legislate schools to use only one (open) system (although in some countries govt depts must only use OSS).
    There will always be competition and putting a small fraction of the Capita tax into developing an open MIS platform could only be a good thing. I would agree that if you put all the money that capita get now into OSS development it would probably be overkill (because because they charge so much in the first place) but I wasn't advocating that either. I was delighted to hear that only 11% of their 2441 million turnover is from education (268 MILLION!)

    I do agree with others that the best starting point is to ensure the use of open the standards as this will naturally encourage OSS development. I would just like to see the playing field being levelled a bit as I believe this would lower costs for schools and create a better product.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    Look at it like this - if the government funded training for school network managers to a high quality, and offered them free to schools with no conditions or provisions, how many network managers would still be in a job except those that the government was providing?
    the best ones would still get employed, but the bar would be raised.

  7. #37

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    The 3 office staff are employed to do that as part of there jobs.
    Wow, that seems inefficient. So a teacher writes all their marks down, and then the office staff have to copy them in? Seems like doubling of effort... But whatever works...

  8. #38

    nephilim's Avatar
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    Believe me it was NOT my idea! lol

  9. #39
    CAM
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    I think you missed my point CyberNerd, but jamesb hit the nail on the head perfectly. Monopoly laws exist for a reason and if the MIS, Open Source or not, was provided free to schools and on par if not better then the competition it will wipe out the entire market. No competition means no drive to improve the product. IE versus FireFox was an example in that the arrival of Firefox suddenly gave reason for a drive to improve IE. Until then it was stagnating.

    It doesn't matter if someone can see the code and rewrite it to make their own product. They won't have the resources of the government or early knowledge of upcoming changes to future MIS requirements when planning development. It'll be no competition.

  10. #40

    russdev's Avatar
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    As been said before its the ever changing government requirements that would kill an opensource solution unless an LA or school hired a a coder to do those changes.

  11. #41

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    And indeed you'd still have to pay someone to support it, and have people further up who could support those, people providing the endless updates to the government's ever moving goalposts.
    SIMS attracts all sorts of attention, granted much of it appears to be negative, however as part of visits I always make sure all the staff are happy with everything, making sure it's all running OK and doing as it should. 99% of the time the answer is "Yeah, great thanks, no problems" - because you don't hear the negatives.
    There are downsides to it - it is a little bloaty, however streamlining something like an MIS would be a task akin to starting afresh. It's a solid base, it just appears to need a little work. However, how easy getting that work done, by the right people, and in the right way ("right" by definition here being how the users see it, and one user may feel "right" is different to the next) is something else entirely. I don't know if Capita are open to suggestion on the performance or function of SIMS, or even if it's allowed by whatever governmental ruling may or may not exist.

    This is where open source is a godsend. A lot of people instinctively believe that if the source is available for everyone to see, it's easier to see the flaws and abuse them. That's very true, and also the very same reason that it is by default, more secure. If there's a problem, there's always multitudes of people happy to chip in to fix it, or suggest to the devs what they could do to remedy it. But how do you then keep such software standard, so as not to upset those precious Guidelines set in place. I'm sure it could be done, after all we'd not be using whatever browser you're using now, whatever OS you're using now. Apple wouldn't exist in it's current form. Microsoft would still have the absolute monopoly. You'd probably give up using cash machines and prefer to see your money handed over at the till. Many many what-ifs could be used as an example here, but it's straying from the point and I'm rambling.

    So the solution? I'd like to believe Capita should perhaps be more open with the development of SIMS, but don't think open source is necessarily a solution in itself. You could say too many cooks can spoil the broth - but what if the broth is already spoiled - would more cooks make it worse?



    *** Edit ****

    I'd like to apologise to anyone that's just read the above. That's probably far too philosophical for a) a Monday and b) for Me.

  12. #42

    dhicks's Avatar
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    I've just put a new proposal up for the Open Source Schools Unconference:

    A plugins ecosystem for schools Management Information Systems | Open Source Schools

    --
    David Hicks

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by f21970 View Post
    Thinking of the mass of data which is there on peoples laptops (thinking of a primary school who runs their SIMS database on a laptop, which I know the burser takes home every night ), an open source MIS would make that data a lot easier to read by any tom, dick or harry. If there's a SIMS backup sat somewhere it shouldn't be, at least at the moment it's more difficult to get at all the information - open source MIS would mean that anyone could read it.
    Do you actually know what you are talking about? Open source does not mean open data source, do not continue to propagate rubbish without first doing your homework.

  14. #44

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    "Writing a complete, monolithic Management Information System (MIS) for a school is a large undertaking. MIS' are the very definition of "enterprise software" - the dull but neccesary applications that take up the bulk of programming effort worldwide."

    DHicks - I have to take issue with you!! We don't consider applications that can change children's lives for the better, to be dull. It is fantastic to go into schools that use our software to the full, enthusiastically.

    As it happens many many years ago there was a government funded project to build a school MIS, millions were spent. Our school couldn't afford it and I wrote what became SIMS in my spare time. The trouble was I couldn't support it in my spare time because people were using it during the day and I was teaching. Hence it went commercial.

  15. #45

    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilNeal View Post
    "Writing a complete, monolithic Management Information System (MIS) for a school is a large undertaking. MIS' are the very definition of "enterprise software" - the dull but neccesary applications that take up the bulk of programming effort worldwide."

    DHicks - I have to take issue with you!! We don't consider applications that can change children's lives for the better, to be dull. It is fantastic to go into schools that use our software to the full, enthusiastically.

    As it happens many many years ago there was a government funded project to build a school MIS, millions were spent. Our school couldn't afford it and I wrote what became SIMS in my spare time. The trouble was I couldn't support it in my spare time because people were using it during the day and I was teaching. Hence it went commercial.
    Shhh!! You'll get the others talking about the old SMAC days!!

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