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IT News Thread, Open source can save schools billions in Other News; ...
  1. #16
    DMcCoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    Forgive me if this seems a little provocative but I must ask:

    Does anyone on this thread or indeed others, actually believe that they will be in post to oversee the introduction of Windows 7 into schools?
    Yes, but then it's only going to be a few months.

    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    Check out the stuff from the Digital Britain project and the schools open standards literature.

    -The private G-Cloud run from the Cabinet Office will happen (whatever Gov).
    -The Gov App-Store to go with it will be a reality too..
    -As Steven Crowe ( top boy at Becta) says 'all workstations in schools will login instantly..no more waiting' oh yes and how will you do that? Yep I know.
    Cloud computing will have no relevance to us where I am until I can get more than 10Mb internet for less than £30k+ a year. I don't think quoting Becta is going to get you very far either considering they are just an overpaid quango who couldn't find their arse with both hands and a biology text book. Like most managment they never *commit* to anything lest anyone blame them. Mediocrity being the keyword here.

    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    Wake up folks..saving in ICT is the order of the day..we all agree on that..did anyone mention that means no more IT technicians or Network Managers?

    The Windows edu-discounts inadvertently produced an unsustainable HR overhead (you) to look after those systems..no more if the Gov has its way

    .It'll save over £40 million in wages BTW
    Sure we could all go, but then it's not going to save that much money. It would be much more cost effective to target the ever expanding middle managment in schools.


    IT is expensive in schools because we expect too much from too few for too little. We have to work with an unpredictable yearly budget with little out of hours time to maintain systems.

    Out of interest what is the FOSS alternative to Photoshop CS4? I don't mean a bit like it if combined with other stuff, I mean a real alternative (GIMP certainly isn't).

    Sure FOSS could help schools save money, it could become the dominant desktop system but in both cases it's going the wrong way about it. Many of us do use FOSS to augment or implement our day to days systems but it shouldn't be seen as a cure for all ills, it doesn't have the answer for everything. The only contact some people will have with open source is the screaming evangelist nutjobs who sell it as some sort of magic snake oil.

    I've used Windows, OS X, Linux and BSD on a regular basis and compared with Windows and OS X sometimes FOSS just isn't good enough. Certainly closer than it has ever been but not quite there yet.

  2. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    Forgive me if this seems a little provocative but I must ask:
    Feel free to be ... it can get a bit boring otherwise.

    Does anyone on this thread or indeed others, actually believe that they will be in post to oversee the introduction of Windows 7 into schools?
    You mean the schools that have already been part of the early adoption program are a figment of our imagination? And there is another meeting of them soon (October 7th) to discuss the best ways to approach deployment in schools, what works, what needs hitting with a hammer, etc ...

    So yes ... we already have one school in the county doing it and others looking as an option instead of upgrading middleware that seems to be commonly used!

    Check out the stuff from the Digital Britain project and the schools open standards literature.

    -The private G-Cloud run from the Cabinet Office will happen (whatever Gov).
    -The Gov App-Store to go with it will be a reality too..
    -As Steven Crowe ( top boy at Becta) says 'all workstations in schools will login instantly..no more waiting' oh yes and how will you do that? Yep I know.


    Wake up folks..saving in ICT is the order of the day..we all agree on that..did anyone mention that means no more IT technicians or Network Managers?
    Oh ... yeah ... I heard about that too ... the same way that the army outsourced the RCT / Logistics so that no workshops would be needed on the garrisons. As Broc has pointed out even the stripping out or centralisation of systems is nothing new to be discussed here ... and they still need people in the school.

    Lets look at some of the above you have suggested though ...
    The private G-Cloud ... the idea that essential data and services will be held away from the local device to make sure that data and information is not at risk. However ... the local device needs configuring to use the service, needs managing and repairing when it goes wrong, has to connect to a network in the first place which also has to be maintained ... and this is before we consider what the teachers want to do that is not on the cloud.
    The App-store ... sorry, but the development of apps moves far faster than the Govt can already handle and the time taken to get things onto a central system is horrendous ... and you can bet each LA and school has its own view of what should be included ... a flippin' committee!
    And yes ... logging on instantly. The way you would with a terminal system using such authentication methods as security cards and biometrics to reconnect to an existing session. Quite possible but with a number of issues that can be looked at as pointers for what we need to work on I suppose ... but again this does not consider some of the requirements of the local user on the local machine.

    Oh ... and a chunk of the above can be effectively and efficiently achieved through open source of proprietary systems ... or a combination of them.

    The Windows edu-discounts inadvertently produced an unsustainable HR overhead (you) to look after those systems..no more if the Gov has its way

    .It'll save over £40 million in wages BTW
    Hey ... but a complete change to systems to purely open source has a massive cost to it as well, training for staff, rebuilding of curriculum software, training of support staff ... so no immediate cost savings ... in fact it could take (finger in the air time based on loose collection of figures when looking at this for just a single school) over 10 years for it to give a cost saving (depending on your upgrade path for hardware / software / turnover of support staff / etc)

    Still not any convincing arguements there ... and you have failed to mention impact on education. What will this do to the curriculum? What happens if you come across the change having a negative impact on results? So you save money but at the cost of the education of our kids?

    Surely you can come up with more convincing arguements ...

  3. #18


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    Oh how times have changed. Only 2 years ago i couldnt get anyone to even look at FOSS. i applaud you for wanting FOSS but you really should learn about these systsms before you start attacking the people who maintain them.

    Id be interesting to know what FOSS you would suggest to replace Active Directory, group policies, and the various other bits and peices which hold a windows network together (no im not talking about file serving and DNS)

  4. #19

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Actually ... I'll leave off the trolling for the moment and ask since you are aware of the work of Open Source Schools and other OSS groups then what have you done to support their work? Have you tried backing up some of your points with real world examples from them at all? It would do your arguement the world of good. It might also help to explain to you what some of the limitations are and why people are just shaking their head at some of your points.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    But really, given the unrealistic education discount bribes handed out to technicians to do nothing to change from their comfort zone status quos....
    This is where I stopped reading...

    I would put in my 2 cents... but my mother tought me "If you can't say nothing nice, don't say nothing at all"

  6. #21

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    I think the happy medium is in the right mixture of technologies in the right places, the idea that schools could go totally open source is nonsense, as it the idea that schools can remain chained to Microsoft for eternity. There are elements of a system which have viable open source alturnatives which are good, even in some cases better than the paid for alturnatives, but at the end of the day we have to look at what we require the systems to do, as well as user familuarity with certain systems. (I'm talking staff here, students just pick up anything you give them and adapt at a remarkable pace)

    I run Adobe CS4 because that's what's expected and is required to complete the course the school runs, and it's also the product that students are most likely to use in the 'real world' which is the same reason I have Microsoft office and other paid for programs. But I also have open office on all my PCs and various other open source programs, I just made them available there was no big introduction, but I observed some of the students and quite a number of them are actually chosing to use it - I asked a few why they were chosing it instead of the Microsoft program, and the answer was because they have it at home. So that's a big plus for open source, anyone from anywhere can use it, it's no longer about who can afford it, and in a school like ours in a 'deprived' area I guess that makes a big difference.

    I also use a mixture of different server systems, Microsoft for my main directory services and storage, Linux for my imaging system (fog) , Xibo for my Digital signage, Apache for my Web services etc. and the reason I chose the open source programs was not entirely cost based, it was because they were the best tool for the job.

    Part of it is also about attitudes towards the technologies. I've always been a big fan of opensource in the right places, but it's taken me a whole year to talk my technicians round to opensource thinking, they were very much of the attitude that because it was free meant it was poor, unsupported and wouldn't work well. After a year of using FOG, both of them have very different attitudes when I mention the next big project based on opensource technology.

    RE: cloud computing as it's come into the discussion, I think we're a long way off seeing this replacing a traditonal network in a school environment, there will always be the need for PCs in schools in the foreseeable future for such programs as photohop, and video editing etc. Eventually this may be possible in this sort of environment, but I think that's a long way off yet in my opinion. Without a doubt we will slowly become more and more reliant on browser based apps, you only have to look at websites like 'my maths' to see how things have developed, only a few years ago something like 'my maths' would have been a program loaded onto the PC's, now it's available in a browser at the click of a button. Learning platforms are also maybe a glimpse of the future, as many have Wordprocessing facilities, video and sound recording all built into them which is essentially cloud computing as it's all saved within the platform it's self, totally un-reliant on the host viewing it. However it's still a long way from being the mainstay of computing use, the traditional programs will hold that position for a while yet!

    Mike.
    Last edited by maniac; 30th September 2009 at 01:28 AM.

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    full article

    For full article on why educational discounts and the G-Cloud spells trouble go to

    Is the UK Government really set to shed 10,000 School ICT Staff? | Sirius Corporation plc

  8. #23
    maark's Avatar
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    Isn't Becta on the quango hit list if the tories get in?

  9. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    For full article on why educational discounts and the G-Cloud spells trouble go to

    Is the UK Government really set to shed 10,000 School ICT Staff? | Sirius Corporation plc
    This should be on the jokes forum

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post
    This should be on the jokes forum
    Oui.

    I found it a very amusing piece. As others have mentioned, some of the points raised are correct, then the views of a vested interest rear their head.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    Sorry if my article on FOSS savings in schools should have struck a nerve.

    But really, given the unrealistic education discount bribes handed out to technicians to do nothing to change from their comfort zone status quo, do you think balanced pros and cons 'one the one hand ..on the other' rhetoric would have the slightest effect at all...it hasn't so far so what is different now?

    Of course FOSS would save schools money the clue is it's free. The real savings though come from FOSS philosphy, do new things, embrace new technologies rather than slavishly upgrade to the latest vendor's new offer. How do you quantify this?

    BTW I thought the article was funny, it was meant to be, got a few laughs.
    Putting aside your insults for a moment - So you want us to all dump our existing systems and come to your company to switch us over to FOSS, paying through the nose to do so eh? Hmmm, let me think about that....

    ...no thanks - cheers anyway.

    And you'd like the government to sack us all and employ companies like yourselves to run ICT in schools instead because that would be cheaper of course

    Does your MD know you're trolling forums and bringing your company into disrepute? No? Thought not

  12. #27

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    For full article on why educational discounts and the G-Cloud spells trouble go to

    Is the UK Government really set to shed 10,000 School ICT Staff? | Sirius Corporation plc
    *sigh* the same way you claim to be feeling sorry for the Edu-Proprietary vendor ... I feel a tad sorry for you. You really are missing a huge chunk of the picture and I suggest you go and have a long conversation with others on SchoolForge-UK or Open Source Schools to get a healthy dose of realism. You think prices / discounts are a major chunk of the problem? No ... try the educational software which is media rich and is based on local (to the machine or school network) installation and use.

    You are scare mongering, appear to have little idea of what else goes on to run a school network (even one under BSF which is heavily centralised) and belittle the additional work done by techies in schools.

    Again, you also fail to mention educational impact ... and the same way that people have talked about TAs / LSAs having little affect on the progress of pupils it has already been publicised by the Govt and Opposition how important they are in other areas such as allowing teachers to get with their work, the growing roll of HLTAs, etc ...

    The problem is the small amount of PR given to support staff in schools, but caretakers have had to deal with that for years.

    I will raise your concerns at the OpenSourceSchools meeting later in the month and even ask the question of "What was Stephen Crowe really talking about?"

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    For full article on why educational discounts and the G-Cloud spells trouble go to

    Is the UK Government really set to shed 10,000 School ICT Staff? | Sirius Corporation plc
    Vested interest much? Any actual real world examples? You don't even seem to be aware of how ICT support actually works in schools now, nevermind what the future holds...I will place a £1000 wager that a Government 'App Store' never ever happens.

  14. #29


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    Now I might be being a bit stupid here, but has the general gist of this thread basicaly been that all techs in schools have been doing a bad job and not looking at development of the schools network? Again, I've read the article and I cant help notice how close it is to some teachers expectations of their tech support without actually knowing what it is we do. And I mean shadowing a school tech for a day at least, see what demands are placed on us and unrealistic timescales working with little or no budget.

    But taking away all the valid points that people have already made, one thing remains constant. You only talk about how much better and how much money you will save by removing the local techs, and change to open source. But how much money will it cost to train every teacher(of which there are far more than techs) to be able to use new systems and new software? Because one thing is for sure, there are a vast amount of teachers who will demand to have training available for such dramatic changes. How much will it cost to employ supply teachers to cover for all the teacher going on training courses? And who would actually do it?


    As already has been said, the pupils will pick up changes quite naturally, but lots of teaching staff show a reluctance to move forward when it comes to technology.

  15. #30


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    @Spannerman2

    Should a school choose to move away from Sirius' offerings (say Bishop Fox's Community School), how many other vendors / support organisations could pick up the load at a similar price point (without saying "you'll have to go to windows")? Would Sirius ensure that said school wasn't left in the lurch?

    I'm wondering if the lack of known suppliers who can provide schools with decent cross-platform integration would inadvertantly cause supplier lock-in in exchange for vendor lock-in? How many of your customers (or prospective customers) have been pressured away from you by LAs?

    Assuming IT techs within schools dissappear, who ensures the school gets value for money / can eyeball a quote or proposal to ensure the supplier isn't taking them for a ride or speccing something that isn't really what they're asking for? Do they pay another consultant to check it over? Do they ask county who (here at least) are very windows-centric and (if they were doing their honest best) may miss things?

    Who are Sirius competitors (by which I mean suppliers of OpenSource solutions to schools) in the education space? Are there enough to keep you competitively priced?

    Moving back to Bishop Fox's Community School, you flag up "£1,200 in energy saving a year", which is pretty good. How does that compare to cost spent on implementing the new system? Will the energy savings (over say, a predicted 4-5 yr refresh cycle) make up a reasonably significant part of the implementation? (by which I mean, paying for Sirius' involvement in the project - the hardware costs would be there regardless). Come the next hardware refresh, will it require Sirius' involvement or will you simply be a helping hand if it's needed? How dependent is Bishops Fox's on you?

    Your website mentions providing web filtering for YHGfL, with no licence fees. I assume the RBC is giving you access to the IWF blacklist? Last time I checked (about a year ago), no open source filtering projects had been certified to use the blacklist due to the need to keep it secure. How did you fulfill their requirements?

    And no, I'm not a windows fanboy. All software sucks, all hardware sucks - anything else is advocacy and I get enough of that from salesmen.

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