[Gllug] UK schools education and FOSS

Martin N Stevens budgester at budgester.com
Fri Oct 21 11:06:42 UTC 2011

>On 20 October 2011 20:42, Chris Bell <chrisbell at chrisbell.org.uk> wrote:
> Hello,
>   I am not an expert, but I feel that the UK is falling far behind the rest
> of the world at least partly because many teachers and schools are totally
> ignorant of what is available, so provide little or no help to students.

Far from it, I think you will find that there is lot of excellent IT
in schools, with highly skilled ICT Managers and Technicians
running what amounts to a large networks on very small budgets.

For an insight into the passion and knowledge of the schools IT
support sector I would recommend having a browse through of

> The school examinations should not favour any poor quality operating system,
> least of all a poor quality proprietary operating system, but there appears
> to have been almost an embargo on information about FOSS from the education
> authorities.

The curriculum and examinations are OS agnostic, however it's up to
the teachers how they teach the curriculum.

And the majority of teaching resources and MIS systems are tailored
around Microsoft software,

I think you will find that the dominant VLE is moodle (open source)

If you look at the software a school should provide as a basic in a
secondary school

Management Information Systems. Capita SIMS, Serco CMIS, Pearson.
Electronic White Board - SMART, Promethean
Library Software - Too many to mention
Cashless Catering - Lots of options
VLE - Moodle, Blackboard, Fronter
E-Mail - Exchange, Zimbra, Google

This is along with a standard network with around 1200 users,  with a
user turnover of 200 per year.

Then you have all the thousands of applications that teachers want to use.

So from a support point of view I run as much of the backend on OS
software as I can e.g FOG, Moodle, Zimbra, and offer teachers open
source alternatives when they want to
i.e. gimp, audacity.

> Some stands with individual Open Source packages have appeared in the two
> main education exhibitions, the BETT show in London and the Education Show
> in Birmingham in recent years, but would there be any support for a larger
> FOSS general demonstration area with space for entire distributions, an Open
> Source Village?

Distributions don't help, what is required is market leading
applications, that integrate.

I have been watching various open source apps for the education market
for coming up 10 years now, and very few are worth using.

MIS Systems - Schooltool - a joke for use in the UK. Although I'm sure
Mark Shuttleworth thinks it's money well spent.
Library Software - Nothing really worth using.

What would probably actually make a difference is if
http://www.openzis.org/ and the SIF format was implemented by all the
major software suppliers to the education sector.

> --
> Chris Bell www.chrisbell.org.uk
> Microsoft sells you Windows ... Linux gives you the whole house.
> --
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