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British study: schools can save by ditching Microsoft

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  • User profile image
    sbc

    British study: schools can save by ditching Microsoft

    Not funded by Redhat, Novell, IBM etc. They just looked at 33 schools using commercial software and 15 using OSS. Savings of 24% (software, hardware and support) when using OSS. The software license and hardware reduced costs probably are the biggest saving. They did not mention Microsoft, it is just presumed.

    I suppose the other benefit of OSS in education is you can teach operating system internals (not that you would in a secondary school) and students could even improve the software (fix bugs etc) - which you can't do with Windows as you have no access to source code.

    Education is probably the best market for OSS, as it can also be used as a teaching aid (how software is written etc).

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    It's all well and good to state that OSS is good for teaching technical stuff, but the reality is that we want to teach pupils skill that will help then get a job.
    It may be a self-perpetuating cycle, but most jobs in the UK want skills in MS Office so that is what we should be teaching students to use.
    The argument that business will change to OSS if all schools teach OSS doesn't help the first few cohorts of students leaving school to find work -- they will still need MS skills.

    Microsoft already provide educational discounts -- maybe this is a tactic to get MS to reduce the costs even further?


  • User profile image
    sbc

    The best kind of network is probably more of a hybrid network. There is no reason why you can't use OSS and Microsoft software on a network. On the server ASP.NET works well, but then so does PHP. You can be more productive with ASP.NET, but it comes at a cost (Visual Studio license, Windows CAL's etc). Saying that, with the right libraries you can probably be just as productive with PHP (as long as you are confortable with using a text editor rather than a GUI).

    The best skills to have is a mix of both - if you know Linux/PHP etc and .NET/Office/Windows then you are a very valuable asset.

  • User profile image
    Tensor

    How much educational software is there available for Linux / OSS?

    sbc wrote:
    I suppose the other benefit of OSS in education is you can teach operating system internals (not that you would in a secondary school) and students could even improve the software (fix bugs etc) - which you can't do with Windows as you have no access to source code.



    Get real. You dont teach OS internals at school level.

  • User profile image
    sbc

    Tensor wrote:
    How much educational software is there available for Linux / OSS?

    sbc wrote:I suppose the other benefit of OSS in education is you can teach operating system internals (not that you would in a secondary school) and students could even improve the software (fix bugs etc) - which you can't do with Windows as you have no access to source code.



    Get real. You dont teach OS internals at school level.

    Hence the not that you would in a secondary school
    Although there may be some child prodigies that could. Secondary schools sometimes do Adult Learning as well in the evenings, so they could teach OS programming.

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    I know that saving money is important, but lets be honest here, Linux isn't common-place in the UK work force other than the back-office.

    Preparing our children to what they are likely to meet in the real world should be the priority. If that is Linux in the future then so be it, but at the moment our children will most likely encounter Windows desktops running Office. I suggest that this should be the current norm until Linux makes more head-way on the Desktop, which is still very much unproven ground for most in the UK.

  • User profile image
    matt0210

    Dr Herbie wrote:
    ... they will still need MS skills...


    I can oly agree with you in part here, Herbie. I think the problem comes from the top. Companies and people are more and more thinking in terms of Office or Powerpoint. They are restricting themselves creatively to fit into Office and that's fundamentally wrong. If the tool can't get the job done, get a different tool. Most companies I consult weren't even aware they were thinking like this. You should never, EVER work to comply with the tool.

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    sbc wrote:
    British study: schools can save by ditching Microsoft

    Not funded by Redhat, Novell, IBM etc. They just looked at 33 schools using commercial software and 15 using OSS.


       Maybe not funded but they plaid a hand in this, look at the designated and approved suppliers of services for BECTA.  A bunch of em are Novell and IBM partners.  This study may not appear to be but it is a very biased.  Microsoft is not a designated Service provider by the way.  Dont be surprised when it comes out that Novell and IBM pretty much pushed the buttons here.

  • User profile image
    Aerodyne

    Quick rant...
    Does it really matter what productive suit they use, most users only use around 10% of what MS Word can do... so using a diff word tool should be no prob.

    Also I can't see how having OSS systems in schools would benefit... since most/all admins will not give root access to the linux distro any way (fix bug etc is a no go then), and keep all the important controls to the systems root.  That and most admins are MS certified not linux ... so it'll be a waste of there qualification that they'll want to hang onto and use.  So getting super geeks from OSS is not going to happena at secondary schools.

    Yes OSS will cut cost & give educational faculties cash to spend on other resources that are important (trips, better new hardware, books ...etc)... so it is a good idea from one point of view (besides if you can use Oo.org, MS Office suite should be quick to catch onto).

    Either way it's not saying that MS products are not welcome at schools just a quick answer to lower cost and use there budgets effectively.  It seems like a good idea, I do hope they push forward with it... not to show how great OSS is (lets be honest most Linux distros are lacking in everything) but to benefit the educational standards by financing better aspects & requirements.

  • User profile image
    sbc

    Sabot wrote:
    I know that saving money is important, but lets be honest here, Linux isn't common-place in the UK work force other than the back-office.

    Preparing our children to what they are likely to meet in the real world should be the priority. If that is Linux in the future then so be it, but at the moment our children will most likely encounter Windows desktops running Office. I suggest that this should be the current norm until Linux makes more head-way on the Desktop, which is still very much unproven ground for most in the UK.

    I remember when I was at school (mid-late 90's) they used Acorn computers with RiscOS. Even when Windows was used in business. So no preperation for real world office work (Office 97).

  • User profile image
    sbc

    rjdohnert wrote:
    sbc wrote:British study: schools can save by ditching Microsoft

    Not funded by Redhat, Novell, IBM etc. They just looked at 33 schools using commercial software and 15 using OSS.


       Maybe not funded but they plaid a hand in this, look at the designated and approved suppliers of services for BECTA.  A bunch of em are Novell and IBM partners.  This study may not appear to be but it is a very biased.  Microsoft is not a designated Service provider by the way.  Dont be surprised when it comes out that Novell and IBM pretty much pushed the buttons here.

    Someone had to give them support. Who else could supply the service? Many companies are partners of IBM and Novell. They are big companies after all. Those that helped them are probably Microsoft partners as well.

    The point is that they saved money. It does not really matter who they chose to give them the savings.

  • User profile image
    Badgerguy

    There are studies like this that crop up from time to time on a regular basis.

    The bigger picture though, takes in a lot more than just cost.

    If we are talking about IT infrastructures that students will interact with, then the most appropriate system will allways be the one that they are most likely to encounter in their job (remembering of course that we're talking about more than just IT jobs), and that is still Windows.

    If we are talking about the most appropriate system to provide to students who ARE going for an IT job (and need more advanced training), then of course, that should be a mixed enviornment of as many different architectures as possible to prepare them.

    If we are talking about the IT infrastructure that an educational establishment is deploying for the administrative departments - then as usual, the best system should be chosen based on the tasks to be performed.

    Common sense often flies out the window when people see a way of getting a bargain - but whether that bargain is really what you need, requires a bit more thought.

  • User profile image
    daSmirnov

    sbc wrote:

    I remember when I was at school (mid-late 90's) they used Acorn computers with RiscOS. Even when Windows was used in business. So no preperation for real world office work (Office 97).


    RISC OS rules! 

    Got my A3010 and A7000 in the cupboard.  The switch over to Windows [95] was a pain, they did it during the easter holidays in year 10, I had Acorns at home to work with the stuff at school, I come back to school, and what can I do?  All of the stuff at school gone, my documents aren't compatible and they wonder why I'm slightly annoyed.

    Worst of all I wasn't doing an IT course for my final exams, so all the stuff I had previously learned in years before was useless,  Office?  What the... I'm used to Pendown and Poster!

    Thanks a lot Bucklers Mead, you planned that out well didn't you.

    If schools switch over to Linux the same old thing again will happen, and it will screw over whatever year is busy doing GCSEs, and even more so now because computers are used far far more.

  • User profile image
    Papillon

    DISCLAIMER: I haven't read the original report.

    I'm hearing a lot about the savings from OS switch to Linux and OpenOffice both here and from /., but surely there's more to educational apps than Office? I've not had pre-tertiary education in the first world, but I expect that there are tonnes of Windows based apps that teach kids how to count, multiply, colour stuff...  The OS is, for the purposes of this discussion, an abstraction of the electronics that one wants to be able to harness both for the purposes of 

    1. teaching how to think and acquire knowledge.
    2. showing off the potential of the computer.

    Now, as much as I think that there are lots of pennies to be saved in a switch to OSS, to use MSFT's favourite buzz term, there's a vibrant ecosystem of educational tools out there that will need to be ported to OSS too. Cut-back to chicken-and-egg problem: who gets commissioned to provide the apps/ issues of unfair disadvantage for other vendors, etc... 

    Ah, of course, Open Source != Linux, and Open source apps exist for Windows, but do they even exist??? Who's keen on creating those educational apps?

    Quite clearly, schools switching to Open Source is an interesting idea, but one that will need to be kept in mind and not really the one that is going to force a sea-change in the Educational Software market.

  • User profile image
    Sabot

    sbc wrote:
    Sabot wrote: I know that saving money is important, but lets be honest here, Linux isn't common-place in the UK work force other than the back-office.

    Preparing our children to what they are likely to meet in the real world should be the priority. If that is Linux in the future then so be it, but at the moment our children will most likely encounter Windows desktops running Office. I suggest that this should be the current norm until Linux makes more head-way on the Desktop, which is still very much unproven ground for most in the UK.

    I remember when I was at school (mid-late 90's) they used Acorn computers with RiscOS. Even when Windows was used in business. So no preperation for real world office work (Office 97).


    The difference between then and now is that children are expected to know how to use a computer when they enter the work place, when we were at school it was up to the various companies to teach you.

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    sbc wrote:
    The best kind of network is probably more of a hybrid network. There is no reason why you can't use OSS and Microsoft software on a network. On the server ASP.NET works well, but then so does PHP. You can be more productive with ASP.NET, but it comes at a cost (Visual Studio license, Windows CAL's etc). Saying that, with the right libraries you can probably be just as productive with PHP (as long as you are confortable with using a text editor rather than a GUI).

    The best skills to have is a mix of both - if you know Linux/PHP etc and .NET/Office/Windows then you are a very valuable asset.

    Knowing both is a very good idea.  I'm better at Microsoft stuff, due to the fact that I've used it longer, and (IMHO) easier to learn.  I don't just mean office productivity stuff, I mean everything from programming to using the OS.

  • User profile image
    scobleizer

    In California it's even worse. My son's school there found it could save money by ditching computers altogether. The most expensive thing in a school computer program is a staff member to keep them going, not the OS. The difference in cost between a Mac, a Windows computer, and Linux is negligible either way. I can make an argument that a lab that's locked down and running Virtual Server is going to be the most cost effective, but that takes a little bit of smarts on the part of the educator. Generally the computer teachers I've worked with aren't very advanced (I was on the technology committee at my son's previous school).

  • User profile image
    lars

    Sabot wrote:
    Preparing our children to what they are likely to meet in the real world should be the priority. If that is Linux in the future then so be it, but at the moment our children will most likely encounter Windows desktops running Office.


    The key is to teach how to learn. They should learn how to use a computer and a word processor, not Windows and Microsoft Office. If the kids doesn't learn how to adapt and quickly learn how to use a particular application they encounter in the real world you are doing something terribly wrong. It's far better to show a wide range of alternatives from different vendors than just lead them down easy street.

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