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Open Source Schools Provocation Paper (March 2010)

Open Source Schools Provocation Paper (March 2010)

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Published by Doug Belshaw
A paper to be discussed at an Open Source Schools meeting on 26th March 2010.
A paper to be discussed at an Open Source Schools meeting on 26th March 2010.

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Published by: Doug Belshaw on Mar 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Open Source
How to move forward with Open Source:the
teacher’s perspective
Doug Belshaw
The Problem(s)
Open Source Software is not used extensively in most schools in the UK. Where it
used itis mostly used because it is free (as in beer), solving a particular need.In addition, teachers are exceptionally time-poor (especially those who hold whole-schoolresponsibilities) and are bombarded with information and offers from companies wantingto gain a slice of a guaranteed market.
Examples from the field
A teacher, frustrated with Internet Explorer, looks for analternative. She comes across
 Mozilla Firefox 
, installs it and ishappy. The add-ons/extensions are an added bonus and the teachermakes her colleagues aware of it.Later, the teacher (as well as her new converts) attempts to accessthe school’s Management Information System (MIS) through Firefox, but can’t.Upon approaching an ICT technician she is informed that the MIS ‘only works withInternet Explorer.’ After some searching online she finds that Firefox
be configured to work withthe MIS. She provides this evidence to the network manager’s team but is rebuffedas ‘Firefox cannot be locked down in the same way as Internet Explorer’.
A learning support assistant, looking for ways to assistant in theModern Foreign Languages department, is recommended
by a friend. He downloads the software and uses it torecord some students he has taken out to work with in a smallgroup.Taking the laptop with the recording home, he attempts to exportthe students’ work as an MP3 file, but becomes stuck. Looking online he comesacross a guide that talks about .dll files and configuration. Confused by the jargonand frustrated that it doesn’t ‘just work’ he either gives up or borrows a friend’sMacbook to use

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