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IT News Thread, Open source can save schools billions in Other News; Strangely enough the session I will be doing at the OSS day for LAs at Bletchley will be about how ...
  1. #46

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Strangely enough the session I will be doing at the OSS day for LAs at Bletchley will be about how support teams are using a variety of FOSS to compliment their existing systems and helping to follow FITS. There are plenty of examples from members here (both the 'great and the good opinion setters' and the less frequent members) and I look forward to showing that FOSS works perfectly well, is not ignored and is chosen for specific tasks and functions.

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    @sted@grumbledock

    completely in tune with both posts;

    a) see you at Bletchley it should be a good day out..cool location

    b) Couldn't agree more about using FOSS where appropriate. Evangelism invariably goes too far and self defeats. I guess we suggest that more FOSS is possible than is generally accepted in some schools. Sometimes get a bit rough about it.


    Our corporate motto is 'control through freedom'. (corporate and freedom = oxymoron ..I keep telling our CEO) but...

    We all need control over our lives, careers and so on, often it's a aspiration more than a reality. I truly believe that FOSS is more than just free stuff but that in there somewhere is real freedom...sounds all a bit idealistic but hey that's the well-spring of inspiration mes amis]

    John

  3. #48
    muppet's Avatar
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    I know that this point has been raised a few times already but I just cant seem to find the answer in anyone’s replies.......
    Once all the NM's and Techs have been made redundant to save money (how much will that cost in payouts / settlements?) just who is going to respond to "the PC in my classroom wont work and I need to use it now to deliver my lesson!" or "I cant seem to do (whatever) with this new OSS software, I need you to show me how"? And just how free and cost effective is that support, if there is any, going to be?

    And as for the bribe thing.....Well just for the record I've never been offered or taken anything and take exception to the fact that you intimate that I have. I’d like to know how many bribes large outsourcing companies (cant think of the name of one at the moment, but feel free to use any you like!) have made to ensure that they get government contracts. Definitely a pot and kettle situation if you ask me.

  4. #49

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    I promise no more but..

    ..with G-Cloud you only need browser-enabled kit on school site or at home.

    -This does not need maintenance or technical support at all.

    -the viewer can be anything from a smart phone to a netbook to a 6watt thin client.

    that's why they are so keen

  5. #50

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    ..with G-Cloud you only need browser-enabled kit on school site or at home.
    This needs to be purchased, configured, distributed and maintained ... school techies are cheaper than outsourced support (eg Home Access) in this respect.

    -This does not need maintenance or technical support at all.
    Devices are not at the point where they are disposable to say this. The only solution would be over 3G and that is not sufficiently reliable to be used at this time or for the next 3 years minimum. This means WiFi instead ... and this requires networks and appropriate technology.

    -the viewer can be anything from a smart phone to a netbook to a 6watt thin client.

    that's why they are so keen
    Viewers are one thing ... production devices for anything other than text or simple media require a more powerful device. I am not saying that mobile devices are not usable or appropriate but they usually are for given tasks and building of certain skills. More details of what can be done can be found at the Handheld Learning Conference next week and I expect EduGeek reporter extraordinaire to feedback some handy info from this.

    And as mentioned before (and above) the G-Cloud is not there ... will not be there for some time ... will not be the answer to all requirements and will be as limiting as only allowing Windows 95 to be used in schools!

    Ok ... if you don't mind me suggesting a strand of arguement for you ... how about talking about how we will get from A (the present situation) to B (the G0Cloud with all the stuff you reckon will happen)?

    After all ... this is not going to happen overnight so there will be significant changes in the technological approaches in education for this ... funding changes ... a changing role and stance for the National Education Network ...

    If you can start to talk through that journey then people might not write off your comments.

  6. #51
    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webman View Post
    Quit thinking in the past. Educational transformation means we should be trying new things. If that means taking away things that's been tried & tested then so be it
    hey, don't knock it. That's where most of the big money seems to be going.

    and i'm guessing it keeps tony [amongst others] in a job.

  7. #52
    PEO
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    completely in tune with both posts;

    a) see you at Bletchley it should be a good day out..cool location

    b) Couldn't agree more about using FOSS where appropriate. Evangelism invariably goes too far and self defeats. I guess we suggest that more FOSS is possible than is generally accepted in some schools. Sometimes get a bit rough about it.


    Our corporate motto is 'control through freedom'. (corporate and freedom = oxymoron ..I keep telling our CEO) but...

    We all need control over our lives, careers and so on, often it's a aspiration more than a reality. I truly believe that FOSS is more than just free stuff but that in there somewhere is real freedom...sounds all a bit idealistic but hey that's the well-spring of inspiration mes amis]

    John
    fancy giving us all a free trial?

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by spannerman2 View Post
    Gosh, a lot of posts to read through.

    I do have a few general comments so forgive me not taking the trouble to do the @soandso bit. If it does not apply to do please don't be offended.

    1) No I'm not trolling this forum, let alone without the boss' knowledge..I was told to sign up to join in the debate.
    2) Really really surprised at the general level of hostility to FOSS and lack of knowledge about it. The thread seems dominated by a few 'great and the good' opinion setters.
    3) I really do know exactly how school ICT support works, having been a Windows SysAdmin even until quite recently so I know what a lock in looks like, I know what fear of change looks like, and I know when edu-discounting amounts to bribery

    For the record the stuff I write is meant in general to be provocative, but not in nasty way, more to stimulate debate and raise some tough points in what I hope is a humorous way.

    Nor, am I scaremongering.

    It was us at Sirius that got the BBC to back off from a Windows only I-player, we also got the Cabinet Office to admit they were planning a Microsoft Only fully outsourced G-Cloud and forced them to change direction (which is why you are getting a Private Cloud rather than US/Dublin version)

    Trust me I am not making stuff up about loss of jobs but you have to write in non-straightforward way or the lawyers turn up ..and they do.

    Finally of course we are FOSS evangelists so are RM PLC, they for example only supply Windows Exchange E-Mail if it is specifically requested !

    And lastly I do not negate/ spoil my arguments with a bad tone or a few inaccuracies..be easy on that just hear the general message..all is about to change are you folk ready?
    HI

    I am sorry if you thought people were being hostile to you and I would suspect that a large number of the members here believe in part what you say, but the bigger picture is never as simple as it first sounds. I am sure that long term if the government through millions at this for years and years we could convert to foss. The only problem is to set this up and train everyone to use it, and provide all the specialized software in the correct os would take years and millions. I would guess that very long term this might be cost effective but in the short term its not and as money is tight at the moment and budgets are not planned that long in advance management try to consolidate the position rather than become more adventures.

    Saying all that Foss software is slowly coming in with things like open office, etc and would be slowly integrated more as it becomes easier to integrate with windows networks.

    For example Balshaws has linux servers for backing up, network monitoring, internet filtering, room booking. None of the users know this or care.

    Good luck with the push on Foss and dont loose heart any long journey starts with a single step.

    Richard

  9. #54


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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Viewers are one thing ... production devices for anything other than text or simple media require a more powerful device. I am not saying that mobile devices are not usable or appropriate but they usually are for given tasks and building of certain skills. More details of what can be done can be found at the Handheld Learning Conference next week and I expect EduGeek reporter extraordinaire to feedback some handy info from this.
    id like to see a thin client dealing with for the sake of argument editing hd video content id imagine audio editing may be feasable but even sd video would likely be a stretch. If all you want is web apps and word processing then fine but thin clients are not the solution to all problems just some. I would also hate to do any large amount of data editing on a phone/pda for notes they are fine but to edit/write a long gocument without a keyboard and on a 4"< screen im sure my eyes wouldnt thank me

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    Following on from GrumbleDook comments, if you described how these changes would be implemented then you could get some discussion going, with the people who are currently doing the job now highlighting any areas that have been overlooked.

    I personally think the money could be better spent in creating some sort of standardisation for schools to follow. An audit of the level of technology used in schools and how well it performs. I know that there are lots of people here, who would be capable of doing a much better job if they were given the authority to make the decisions rather than a non-technical SMT. Too often it is the wrong people who are making these decisions and the school suffers. BSF was supposed to change all that, but didn't actually look at what was casuing the problem before offering a solution.

    You have the opportunity here to get the ideas of thousands of people who are actually doing the job day in day out. I would suggest that you listen to some of the comments on here as people are trying to point out obsticles in the way of your proposals. This isn't hostility, it's planning.

  11. #56
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    There does seem to be an "all or nothing" mentality going on a lot of the time that doesn't seem to be productive to getting the best out of the systems...

    - all thin client or all fat client, why not both depending on the applications required?
    - all open source or all Microsoft etc, why not just leave the OS as is and get a good blend of apps, using whatever is best-of-breed for the task e.g. I put an app called DVD Flick on that beats any commercial DVD creation software I've seen for ease of use but prefer Photoshop over GIMP any day
    - all in house support or completely outsourced. Why not have both, keeping the personal in-house touch for the most part and using external support on bigger projects as required?

    On the OS front I doubt even Google Chrome will make much of a dent in the market and that's likely to be the closest any Linux OS will get to the mainstream so really would you gain that much by ripping everything based on Windows out and trying to put Linux in? Training and relearning could end up "costing" more in the long run just to tick a box for Open Source when the effort could be better focussed elsewhere e.g. improvement of VLE and so on. As said above the open source systems can do a great job in the backend and indeed savings are made there, just a case of finding the best tool for the job.

    I think the whole debate is in danger of getting hijacked by people just pushing a platform so it "wins" the battle, which won't achieve anything in the long run!
    Last edited by gshaw; 2nd October 2009 at 02:12 PM.

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    Doing the right thing

    I agree with the previous post so much. The 'one size fits all approach' regarding the OS or the apps is not the effective way to meet school's needs. Indeed we adopt a mixed approach on all our ostensibly FLOSS deployments.

    The warning I am sounding is not about what is good for schools and by implication our children but what a government wants to do.

    It was 3 years ago when the quango Becta announced that school ICT was unsustainable, and that was before the bust.

    Then over nearly two years ago now they aggressively renegotiated the MOU with MS to reduce the cost of buying and licencing software..and were very effective indeed, and this was before the bust.

    Then comes the bust. Now ICT really is too expensive and the dominant costs are HR followed by power consumption.

    Then less than one year ago the Cabinet Office was charged with creating the G_cloud and the App Store on teh back of the NHS ICT project (god so expensive).

    They may fall flat on their faces, and I hope they do, but a G-Cloud + ultra low cost effectively thin client solid state computers solve the HR problem and the power problem at a stroke.

    They are going to try and do it..and the quality of provision won't even come into it.

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    Abaddon's Avatar
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    It's interesting, and I think that cloud is the way forward.. Not sure how private schools will fit in the this g-cloud thingamabob though. Either way, browser based seems easiest, looking at it logically - but I think there will always be a need for "full fat" PC's - video editing, laser cutting (D&T) and other specialist applications will surely need local PC's. There may not be an OSS solution for some of these.

    A mix of both seems a reasonable compromise - horses for courses as they say?

  14. #59

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    I think there is an emerging concensus that a combination of FOSS & 'commercial' software, with a mix of thin client/fat clients running with some levels of virtualisation at a client & server level will deliver the 'ideal' technical solution for schools.....

    I would like to explore the suggestion that significant savings can be made in headcount by switching to FOSS.

    Most people are now aware of the Govt BSF program. The typical BSF model for schools requires them to sign up to a managed service for ICT. The Partnership for Schools 'draft' proposal recommends reducing the ICT support headcount in schools by removing much of the front-line onsite support; typically this might be delivered instead by providing a phone & online helpdesk, with some additional 2nd level support available centrally with a much reduced onsite presence in schools, not only in terms of numbers but of skills too. Only low level actions such as clearing printer jams, replacing toner, replacing cables will be performed by these staff.

    It is too early in the BSF program to say what reduction in headcount this will actually deliver, but the indications already are that whatever the savings in headcount, the cost of managed services to many schools will increase not fall. Schools are also being asked to commit budget up front to invest in replacement hardware during the life of their BSF Managed Service Contracts, typically 5-10 years long. These budget commitments are being suggested even though schools have no idea what their budgets will be in the future as the Govt do not provide 5-10 year budgets for schools.

    How will further exploitation of FOSS release headcount post BSF?

    If it does, surely the main beneficaries are going to be the private sector companies running the managed service who could see their costs go down & their profits go up? Or will they generously reduce their costs to the schools?

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    I agree

    I think you are correct in saying a consensus has emerged and your analysis is spot on..especially agree with the last paragraph.

    The way I think FOSS can help, even in a managed outsource model (which of course FOSS firms like us would benefit from) is on pricing to schools.

    Of course even now, espcially in industry proprietary software remains expensive so FOSS firms have a natural price advantage, much less so in school due to the edu-pricing stuff. But the real attractor seems to be the risk mitgation that results from the lack of lock in.

    FOSS service pricing remains low after adoption because the firms can simply switch to another FOSS based outfit (and there are now loads!) who simply take over.

    For this reason I think that schools with a good FOSS mix can produce a mixed environment as you suggest and save money using FOSS outsourced thin-client services.


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