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'Schools should be made aware that open source is better'

'Schools should be made aware…

Published on: 23/09/2013 News Archived

Advocates of the use of free and open source in education, should stress that this type of software is a better solution, not merely cheaper. Comparing a successful and an unsuccessful switch to using Linux-based systems, a study published on Joinup today concludes that, technically, Linux and other open source software is ready for use in schools. "Support of senior staff is essential."

More schools should consider using open source solutions in education, recommends the study, after comparing the implementation of Linux and other free software solutions by two schools in the United Kingdom.

Pupils, teachers and school managers are becoming used to using different computing devices, mixing desktop PCs with smart phones and cloud-based applications. Education policies are also improving, aiming at teaching technical understanding rather than the use of ubiquitous office applications. "The time is right for more schools to make the switch."

The study details the successful switch by the Westcliff High School for Girls Academy, with 340 students, in Westcliff on Sea, and the abandoned implementation by Hassenbrook Technology College with 700 pupils, in the neighbouring Stanford-Le-Hope.

Required programming

At the Westcliff high school, IT staff discussed the switch to open source with management in detail. The school specialises in science and engineering and, the report quotes the school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore: "If the students are to go on to do great things like start the next Google or collapse the universe at CERN... they will certainly need to know Linux."

At Hassenbrook Technology College, the school's Network Administrator, Jason Bassett, used open source to return to operation three rooms of obsolete PCs. However, the school's senior management was not to be convinced and eventually abandoned the project. The study quotes former school Network Administrator Jason Bassett, who believes this may be because the software is made available for free. Now running an IT consultancy he says he has noted a difference between the perception people have of software depending on whether they pay for it.


More information:

Joinup case study