I heartily agree with all that Gavin has said below except for the bit
"I've said far too much already."
In my school we are looking at doing a course which involves creating and
editing digital media (audio, video, images). It involves video editing,
animation, creating multimedia presentations. Much of it can be achieved
with opensource software like audacity and gimp. The video editing though
will be best accomplished using iMovie - (iMovie '06 rather than iMovie
'08). So my platform for the most part will be Mac. We will use both
opensource and proprietary software. If I decided to use Linux exclusively
then I dare say we (4 teachers involved in delivering the course across
various disciplines) could achieve the educational objectives but I believe
we would be putting hurdles in our way. The art and music teachers
involvoved are used to macs and use them everyday in their teaching. I have
no doubt they will deliver their sections of the course more effectively on
their Mac rather than trying to move them to Linux.
Linux has a role in my school where we have it on the servers and run a
number of thin clients but we gat a lot of educational value out of our Mac
and Windows machines. We use a fair amount of open source software -
openoffice, gimp etc. but we also use proprietry software as the open source
version, if it exists, may not be the best tool for the job.
Students studying higher level leaving cert. music can opt for a technology
component which will make up 22% of the exam. They are trying to encourage
the use of technology in music, one of the few subjects where this is the
case. The bar has been set very low for the technology component and
students can pick up a high mark in this section without too much effort.
The music teachers use an expensive proprietary piece of software called
"Sibelius" to do their own work and also teach it to the leaving cert.
students for the technology component. It is mac and windows only. There is
no open source equivalent that does the job as well and as easily. There are
open source music notation programs out there but they are more complex to
use. If you are a leaving cert student trying to get into college and
concerned about points or a teacher of such a student then the open source
Vs proprietary arguement is not on your radar.
If open source & Linux is going to happen in a big way in schools then the
education leadership - starting from the minister on down through the NCTE,
NCCA (National centre for curriculum and assessment www.ncca.ie), and other
governement education agencies would need to bring it centre stage. It will
only happen in an ad hoc and occassional manner otherwise - which is the
OK my turn to go quiet having said more than enough ....
On 10/04/2008, Gavin McCullagh <gmccullagh at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Wed, 09 Apr 2008, Cian Brennan wrote:
>> > Given a choice between state sponsored teaching of open or closed
> > technologies, I would think it should be fairly clear cut that we should
> > aim towards open technologies.
>>> By "we" do you mean ILUG, the government, the country at large or some
> other group? I'd certainly agree that linux advocates should aim towards
> open technologies in schools. How will students benefit from this choice
> though -- in reality, not the idealistic "all students could be hackers!"
>>> > > > - It's free as in "free beer". So students don't need to spend any
> > > > money (or break any law) in order to use it
> > >
> > > As JH said, schools are not necessarily breaking any laws now. The
> > > involved in administering and training teachers to use open source
> > > well outweigh the benefit of using it. This is the same debate that
> is had
> > > in businesses and it simply isn't as clear cut as people are making
> > >
> > You're talking about schools, he's talking about students. Even if the
> > can afford enough copies of MS office, up to date machines to run a
> > version on, and so on, your students almost certainly can't all.
>>> It is schools not students who you propose to convince though,
> right? I'll
> ask more directly. For a school using standard proprietary software now,
> can you support the assertion that it would be cheaper to provide the same
> standard of education by moving their desktops to free software? Most
> schools don't have enough money to be worrying about what goes on in
> people's homes. They need to keep their own ship afloat, so they are
> unlikely to spend time and effort (aka money) moving to OpenOffice so that
> students can have it at home.
>> OpenOffice seems like a reasonable suggestion alright and I gather
> StarOffice has been given out to many schools but without any training of
>> The ECDL, while translated into OpenOffice by the Blackrock Institute, is
> mostly taught in Microsoft Office (whether it should be taught at all is
> another debate). There is an ECDL equivalent promoted by Microsoft which
> as you'd expect can only be done on Microsoft Office, but it apparently
> far better automated testing/marking which saves teachers a bunch of time
> (at the apparent expense of sending the data up to an online server). I
> know a school where Microsoft came in and offered free licenses and setup
> of this system. You may see this as a cynical ploy to win mind-share, but
> the teacher sees a busy life and time saved at no expense to the school.
>>> > Teachers don't need a large amount of knowledge of linux. I've never
> > anything more done in a school than web browing, or using office or the
> > Most of these tools are almost identical, irrespective of platform.
>>> How much have you looked? How about AutoCAD (currently being adopted in a
> school near me and definitely used in others too), video editing (also
> something they like to do), animation etc? I realise similar programs
> exist for linux, but are they sufficiently developed?
>> A lot of educational software is windows-only. They'll just need to drop
> that stuff right?
>> By the way, who is going to administer all of these linux desktops? A lot
> of schools have to rely on their most computer-literate teachers (who
> usually know windows or macs) to look after their computers.
>>> > There's the other rather large point that linux will continue to run
> > quite happily on machines that owuld have long since been thrown out as
> > too slow/underspecced for windows use, with an up to date browser/office
> > suite.
>>> So again we're back to cost but there are substantial unquantified costs
> both sides so that's not a clear argument.
>> I'm not saying you're necessarily wrong here, but the question is more
> complex that a lot of people realise. There are UK studies which suggest
> free software would be cheaper, but they're based on UK schools where
> teacher gets a laptop, often 2-3 full-time staff look after sysadmin work
> (and still they mostly use windows AFAICT),
>> It's understandable for open source advocates to want to get open source
> schools as that's where mind-share is won and if that's what you're doing
> you should be open about that. Proprietary software vendors think exactly
> the same way. If you're purely trying to improve schools use of
> it's not clear to me that free software is necessarily the answer.
>> I'm going to bow out of this argument now as I've said far too much
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