The primary school in Saint Léger en Yvelines (France) has almost completely switched to using free software, reports the village’s Deputy Mayor Olivier Guillard. “Do not underestimate the task”, he advises others on the forum of Etalab, France’s open government portal, “and most of all, persist.”
Saint Léger en Yvelines is a commune some 50 km west of Paris. The village has one school, with six classes, and includes pre-school. The Jean Moulin school is attended by all of the approximately 130 children in the commune up to the age of 11.
On Friday, Deputy Mayor Guillard published his recommendations for others that want to ‘free their schools from the commercial agenda of proprietary software vendors’. Free software is unhindered by the constraint of financial profitability, he argues: there is no planned obsolescence and no lock-in to specific hardware.
Olivier Guillard urges rigorous testing of solutions before suggesting them to teachers. Furthermore, it is just as important 2to convince2 teachers of the benefits of free software. He also recommends being proactive on maintenance and monitoring.
The seven-year switch
Guillard cautions patience. The school’s transition to free software took years, he writes. “Seven years of convincing. Seven years to find free software alternatives for each new commercial offering. Seven years of creating a dialogue and building communication channels with teachers dedicated to digitisation of education.”
The school has not rid itself of proprietary software completely. Whiteboard solutions and office documents exchanged in France’s education sector force teachers to use proprietary software, for which the school keeps two PCs with proprietary office tools, the deputy mayor writes. “I prefer that teachers to focus on their work, instead of having to convince their superiors and administrative counterparts.”