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MIS Systems Thread, Open Source software in UK schools in Technical; Interesting paper out today: http://www.nwlg.org/downloads/docs/p...enservices.pdf Makes some very good points, remains to be seen whether schools/LEAs will take it on ...
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    scholarpack's Avatar
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    Open Source software in UK schools

    Interesting paper out today:

    http://www.nwlg.org/downloads/docs/p...enservices.pdf

    Makes some very good points, remains to be seen whether schools/LEAs will take it on board..probably as good a time as ever..

  2. 5 Thanks to scholarpack:

    CyberNerd (17th September 2010), GrumbleDook (17th September 2010), jinnantonnix (17th September 2010), stevenlong1985 (18th November 2010), zag (17th September 2010)

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    Very cheeky way to promote your own product and when your not a forum sponsor this is frowned upon please stop doing this.

    Thanks

    ETA----

    A shame as its actually a good and interesting read.
    Last edited by jamesreedersmith; 17th September 2010 at 01:00 PM. Reason: New comments

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesreedersmith View Post
    Very cheeky way to promote your own product and when your not a forum sponsor this is frowned upon please stop doing this.
    Don't be so ridiculous, its a paper promoting how schools can save money.

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    Sorry, I should have let someone link to it but I don't think open source gets any where near enough airtime on the forum and I didn't think it would get mentioned if I didn't post it myself. We are mentioned briefly once in the entire paper, along with a whole multitude of other software that would benefit schools. The paper is interesting whether it mentions us or not!! I'm sorry this detracted from your reading experience...

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    Interesting document with some good ideas although I'm not 100% convinced about the VLE figures... yes you will definitely save on the licensing costs but some kind of hosting or support is still required so the VLE doesn't go from 3.5k to 0 just by making it open source. Not a dig at the product (we use Moodle at our place and are big fans of it) but you do have to be careful about giving unrealistic savings if you compare items without examining any background costs.

    In our case we're pretty good with open source when I think about it as our filtering, digital signage, VLE and some multimedia apps are all open source and can definitely save money (in the case of the digital signage Xibo does the job as well as a 1-2k commercial package would )

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    zag
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    I use Italc and moodle in our school.

    Both excellent alternatives to paid for products.

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    A very interesting read ... but I would like to raise a few points. In fact I would like to raise a couple of dozen points but to do so in one post would be too much ...

    I don't want to do it over at open Source Schools either as I just come across as the maverick, anti-OSS LA bod.

    I'll do it in here but I also don't think doing it in a thread in the MIS area is best either.

    I'll cogitate tonight about where to have this conversation but would put forward a few questions I will want answered.
    1 - I have only seen a few mentions on educational requirements in this paper. I don't want to see a paper just about money if we are looking long-term (which the paper claims) ... I want to see it tied in with what changes will also be needed to the curriculum, the staff training, etc. Otherwise it is as short-sighted as recent cuts from Central Govt, IMNSHO.
    2 - There is no mention of the word training in the document at all. Do they think that people can just move from one system to another with no training?
    3 - Like for like! I would expect, as at least a starting point, to see a like for like chart ... doing a on x is the equivalent of b on y. Yet again I see this opinion that Dansguardian is a like for like replacement forBecta accredited filtering software / provision. It isn't. Will we ever see like for like in this sort of discussion or are people scared they will fall short? You never know ... you may come out on top. I've yet to see the full like for like alternative to CC3 or CC4 via open source solutions either.
    4 - Figures ... sorry Gary. I want to see your figures in a decent appendix so they can be verified and questions / validated / championed. At the moment it doesn't look very OPEN to me.
    5 - FREE!!!!! And there was me thinking that for years we were talking FOSS. FREE and OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE ... but everytime I challenge anyone about free stuff (eg resources from Apple, Microsoft, Serif, etc) I get told that this is not free as it is pandering to the commercial nature of other products.
    The ‘institutionalisation’ of licence free applications and digital resources in schools will enable seamless skills transition between Primary and Secondary sectors as well as with the free use of software applications and digital learning resources in the home.
    Free applications ... oh ... you did remember ... but why the insistance on the words open source? Are you worried that commercial companies might give away *all* their software to schools and thereby undermine your whole arguement?

    So ... that is where I will be starting my points on this paper.

  9. 2 Thanks to GrumbleDook:

    Abaddon (19th September 2010), PiqueABoo (17th September 2010)

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    2 - There is no mention of the word training in the document at all. Do they think that people can just move from one system to another with no training?
    Er Yes!
    When I introduced a full Linux network install in my previous school, no training was either needed or given. The students took to it easily and the teachers did too. So don't start waiving the old training FUD about please.

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    1- Seconded, Staff rarely want to change as we saw when putting in Office 2007 for Office 2003. Moving back to OpenOffice/Goo (By moving back I mean the menu systems) would not be appreciated. Also this has a bearing on the use of MIS applications as well and although there are some Free and open Source alternatives to the big commerical ventures I'd have to say it would be difficult to convince anyone that this would be the way to go (unless all the money for budgets dries up to such as point as we can't afford the yearly fees for said MIS package).

    2 - Pretty much cover in your first point Tony

    3 - Interesting point, Comparing MIS systems and Office would again be my first port of call on this as they are integral to school working life for Admin and nearly every curriculum subject.
    it would be useful to look at Dansguardian and which features are needed by schools and colleges and compare them to the now defunct Becta suggested lists, what is lacking and what is available for all of the packages recommended by Becta and this paper. Does it matter if OSS or FOSS have a few features missing when the advantages of cost will make up for the extra time to get around their failings? I better not comment on the CC3/CC4 argument as it would take over this posting again I would emphasise whether or not it is needed or more precisely whether or not all of the features are needed then compare software against this list of needed features across the school more than a like for like comparison of each piece of commerical software with its near equal FOSS/OSS offering. This would give a clearer indication of what is needed as we can see from commerical apps features can differ greatly.

    4 - Agreed, I could state all sorts of prices but without evidence to back them up they are pointless.

    5 - Erm..Microsoft giving away all of it's software? It doesn't need to reside on Linux/Unix but if residing on Windows then the cost of that OS must be taken into consideration surely?

    Other than that it would be interesting to manage a real world trial of the papers suggested software set compared to a commerical system however as this is regretably impossible to do without a school willing to volunteer I can't see this as an option running the other system in somewhere like the library and one department might be possible but running two MIS programs side by side would be very awkward and a lot of work for IT Services and Admin.



    Wes

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    Quote Originally Posted by garrysaddington View Post
    Er Yes!
    When I introduced a full Linux network install in my previous school, no training was either needed or given. The students took to it easily and the teachers did too. So don't start waiving the old training FUD about please.
    You might have been fortunate enough for that, but in many instances this isn't the case and the reluctance to try new software offen stops change dead. For any major changes that are due, a period of training needs to be planned. You cannot expect people to carry out their jobs to the same level with changes to the equipment they use. Without training, you provide people an opt out of "I dont know how to use it".

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    @GarrySaddington: You must have had one fantastic time there then as most schools I've ever known would resist this even if forced, as lots of time and money have been spent on resources specifically aimed at the commerical software they've been using and re-creating this work would not happen over night as such it wouldn't be in the interests of the Pupils learning to so poorly provision them, okay we could slowly adapt the resources to a more generic outline and from there move to a full linux system but the time taken for that would be significant and as people rarely like to wait for massive savings could cause problems in regards to implementation and acceptance. However I would like to be able to do this as cost savings would be ample and some of the software available to Linux in the FOSS communities is fantastic.


    Wes

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    Quote Originally Posted by wesleyw View Post
    Seconded, Staff rarely want to change
    Thirded. I'm going to try Edubuntu in Reception at my main school. The current machines are really struggling and abused; my thinking is that E/u should run better, and it has analogues for the two main programs they need: Dazzle (Tux Paint) and MyWorld (that Potato Man thing). I'll bet that the teachers whinge until they manage to get machines from other classes that run XP better rather than even try to use E/u.

    I will post back if they surprise me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by garrysaddington View Post
    Er Yes!
    When I introduced a full Linux network install in my previous school, no training was either needed or given. The students took to it easily and the teachers did too. So don't start waiving the old training FUD about please.
    Not FUD ... just because it works that way for your school doesn't mean it would be fine for all schools. People tend to think very narrowly when talking about experiences with training. Try not to judge all the same. I am sure we can all find examples to justify any single given position ... it doesn't mean any single one is correct, more the case that they are *all* correct as examples and have to be considered.

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    We have moved to a linux backend systems with some f/s running samba our virtual hosts running KVM with a few windows servers running on them for applications such as Eclipse, papercut etc.

    As for desktop machines I doubt very much that we could ever move over to linux clients just due to the fact that either teachers won't let it happen or will pull the "it will affect the kids education" card and slt will decline that idea!

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    I'll have a bash
    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    1 - I have only seen a few mentions on educational requirements in this paper. I don't want to see a paper just about money if we are looking long-term (which the paper claims) ... I want to see it tied in with what changes will also be needed to the curriculum, the staff training, etc. Otherwise it is as short-sighted as recent cuts from Central Govt, IMNSHO.
    The curriculum isn't actually tied to any product, does anything need to change apart from the exam board internal rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    2 - There is no mention of the word training in the document at all. Do they think that people can just move from one system to another with no training?
    IT always changes, and some institutions deal with the change better than others. Ultimately the costs of training are pretty much going to equal each other out. eg the cost of training 200 teachers in Office 2010 vs 200 teachers in Google/OpenOffice

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    3 - Like for like! I would expect, as at least a starting point, to see a like for like chart ... doing a on x is the equivalent of b on y. Yet again I see this opinion that Dansguardian is a like for like replacement forBecta accredited filtering software / provision. It isn't. Will we ever see like for like in this sort of discussion or are people scared they will fall short? You never know ... you may come out on top. I've yet to see the full like for like alternative to CC3 or CC4 via open source solutions either.
    Sometimes it isn't appropriate to compare feature sets. Instead it is best to come up with a set of criteria that the product should fulfil that suits the needs of the business/course. The extra features that are rarely/never used are often the difference between a free product and a £5000 product.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    4 - Figures ... sorry Gary. I want to see your figures in a decent appendix so they can be verified and questions / validated / championed. At the moment it doesn't look very OPEN to me.
    This is always very difficult to do. It will be different for each and every school. I can easily show on paper that we are spending £40,000 maintaining our SIMS system (including Microsoft licensing, staff costs - oh and that is subsidised by the LA).
    It makes an 'administrative system' saving of £8000 look quite an underestimate.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    5 - FREE!!!!! And there was me thinking that for years we were talking FOSS. FREE and OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE ... but everytime I challenge anyone about free stuff (eg resources from Apple, Microsoft, Serif, etc) I get told that this is not free as it is pandering to the commercial nature of other products.
    If you can run an Opensource system, then freebies are not free - it stands to reason. Free resources from MS/Apple are only free if you buy the product. The article was suggesting using free operating systems, so in this instance it would clearly cost in terms of licensing to use them.

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