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My belief is that open source software is ideal in an educational establishment, especially in a primary environment. Unfortunately Microsoft dominates the home and educational sector and brings along its maintenance issues. While Apple Macs, which would be ideal for education, are reserved for the remaining elite and bring along ongoing costs.

Applications that were once required installed on a PC can now be run directly from the Internet. Media on the Internet could only once be distributed via CD. Browsers are becoming the only tool required by a computer user to access resources, films, music and more importantly applications. Quite an incredible evolution, in a digital way.

In education, children are taught the basics of ICT, all the way up to year 6. They only therefore need the basic tools. Why buy each of those children a pencil and a set of crayons if all you wanted for them to draw was a picture? The basics, open source, can be provided to every child while more elaborate tools, Windows or Apple Macs, should be provided as an alternative.

Schools can't afford the ongoing costs that come with a Microsoft environment. They're budget wouldn't stretch much further than maintaining a suite of 30 computers. In our school of 230 pupils, that would be a 1:7 ratio of PCs to pupils. Our long term objective is to get this as low as 2:1 and eventually 1:1.

At this level, space becomes a real issue. Thankfully, very small PCs, capable of running the same applications of it's bigger brother, are now becoming a reality. Its very exciting.

There are Open Source alternatives to satisfy every part of the KS1 and 2 ICT curriculum requirements. The believe is that training would then become a barrier to not making the best use of those new tools. I aim to dispel those myths.

8 comments:

At 25 June 2008 at 12:37 JohnH said...

Stephen:
Hi: Sorry to be a boring pedant, but for a message about education you might want to correct a couple of typos: "their budget" instead of "they're budget" and "its bigger brother" instead of "it's bigger brother"!
Otherwise, congrats on ploughing your own furrow!

 
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