Michael points out the article that originally spurred my interest and started
this thread. This is one instance of Linux being actually useful to the school.
In order to get support, we need to think about what the school wants. Not what
the student would like. So, Order of importance:
1: How will this improve the staffs productivity? As I understand, the schools
are currently using a programme called Facilities. This seems to be a basic
database type application. This should be fairly easy, as Linux support
databases quite well. What is then needed is a good front-end to make the staffs
job easy. John Bolger seems to have already made progress in converting the data
to a Linux-Friendly format.
2: How will this meet the National Curriculum? Programmes like Learning Logic
make a good argument for Linux. Designed from the ground-up as a client-server
app. This allows the school to put most of it's money into just one good server.
Cheaper hardware can then be used for the terminals. I did have a look at some
software at Easons the other day. I won't mention Lingua-Masters by name, but
their programme for Junior-Cert Irish, although it is .html based, requires
Internet Explorer. The second page of their manual even states that, Due to the
use of MircoSoft development tools, Internet Explorer is required. Of course it
shouldn't be too hard to strip the M$ specific tags from the html, but this
might be too close to reverse-engineering. It might be better to make software
developers like this aware of just how much they are limiting there audience my
using these M$ tags. I noticed some other titles for Junior Cert courses that
seem to be falling into the same trap.
3: How can this advance the students learning? This should be the easiest of
all. Linux includes development tools for just about every computer language
known to man. Obviously programming would make an easy extension to the current
curriculum. StarOffice will also aid with a ECDL-type training course on Word
processing, spreadsheet, and other common tools. StarOffice also has the added
advantage of also being client-server based. This would increase the
requirements for the terminals, but not excessively. We can still use much
cheaper second-hand PC's for the terminals and focus the money on just one
server. This also make maintenance much easier. When a piece of software needs
upgrading, you upgrade the software on the server. The terminals will now use
the upgraded software. Rather than having to go around and upgrade the software
on each and every computer in the school. If the client software does need to be
upgraded, this can be done over the network from the server as well.
I've got a few interested people willing to help me with the first point. I
think we should concentrate on this one. Without a good answer to this first
question, no school will even entertain questions 2, or 3. Much less the idea of
'Well, each pupil can have E-Mail and surf the Web.' St. Ollies is the
exception, not the rule.
I will try to get to the next meeting, but I think I'm working that weekend.
I'll check my schedule and see if I can get the time off. I hope to get an
indication of how much support this subject has, in relation to people who can
make it happen. Once I get a few things sorted out at home, I'll get an E-Mail
address for discussing and organising this project.
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