in Education

How to move forward with Open Source: a teacher’s perspective

On Friday I’m in London helping facilitate a session as part of the Open Source Schools project. I was asked by Miles Berry to write a short ‘provocation paper’ which is shared below (be sure to click ‘Fullscreen’). I’d be interested in your thoughts and feedback! :-D

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  1. Interesting thoughts. Feel you somewhat gloss over the institutional lethargy and unwillingness of builders of proprietary systems to support open source browsers, add-ons etc.

    The answer to Audactity, BTW, is to download LAME at the same time and add it in – nothing that needs involve DLLs. (But that’s a bit geeky in itself.)

  2. At our school the biggest barriers to OSS are:

    - “It’s not the industry standard” – Not sure what happened to transferable skills
    - Key staff competence: Our head of curricular ICT nearly had a coronary when I suggested teaching databases using mysql. She wouldn’t have a clue where to start, so she sticks to Access…
    - “They’ll wait until we’re hooked and then charge us” – Discuss…
    - “There’s bound to be viruses if it hasn’t come from a reputable company” – Like Sun Microsystems, for example?
    - “It’s not BECTA approved” – Discuss!
    - “It’ll cost more in support than we ever paid for a proprietary solution” – And this objection wasn’t retracted even after showing senior staff BECTAs findings that use of OSS reduced TCO.

    Finally(ish) – I don’t think “developers of OSS” should be writing step-by-step guides etc. They are already writing great software that is becoming increasingly user friendly. If ‘we’ want to keep using such software perhaps we should be offering more help in making it more widely acceptable. Actually, let’s teach kids to use it and the get them to write the documentation! Surely that must count towards some qualification somewhere?!

    As for, “I’m a Penguin” style advertising… Hmmm…

    • Thanks for sharing those thoughts Andy – I shall add them into the mix
      for Friday.

      And when I said that step-by-step guides should be written I meant by
      the wider community, not (necessarily) the developers. :-)

  3. I would suggest that if might be worth mentioning OpenOffice in your examples; one of the *big* opportunities has to be OpenOffice to replace Office – huge cost benefits, but so many barriers, not least because of MS LookOut! ™ and Exchange server compatibility. This is a scenario likely to resonate well with the OSS folks.

    • Good point, Adrian, and that’s something that we’ve discussed within
      Open Source Schools a number of times. That’s more from the network
      manager’s perspective, though – whichbis another session! ;-)

  4. Unable to view your thoughts as you are using a closed source application – flash.

    …but having read your post through Open Source Schools – ignorance and FUD are major players. I came across a statistic that claimed (I’ve not found a source) 96% of ICT Teachers in Secondary Schools in the UK do not have a computer science background – no wonder Luddite’s rule :~)

    • I appreciate the irony, but do you *really* not have Flash installed?!
      Wow.

      And you’re calling *other* people Luddites? I think you just may be
      exhibiting Zealot-like behaviour – which, as I identify in the paper
      of mine you haven’t read, is kind of part of the problem… ;-)