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Education Microsoft

Ditching Microsoft Could Save Education Millions 383

ElvenMonkey writes "The Times Education Supplement has published the results of a BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Association, the Government's ICT agency) study, to be published next week, into the TCO of using Microsoft products compared to using Open Source products. The report shows an average saving of 24% per computer in schools using Open Source over those using Microsoft systems. Now if only the government wasn't insistent on locking schools into using Microsoft in arguably illegal ways."
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Ditching Microsoft Could Save Education Millions

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  • wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:34PM (#12457260) Homepage Journal
    Think how much they would save if they just got rid of the computers.
    • Re:wow. (Score:5, Funny)

      by peculiarmethod ( 301094 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:39PM (#12457328) Journal
      yeah, no joke.. get rid of the computers and learn the hard way! I was raised without computers until late in highschool, and look at me! I mean, I am single, a musician.. alcoholic.. addicted to porn and constantly refreshing slashd..

      nevermind.. keep the computers.

      • Re:wow. (Score:3, Funny)

        by wankledot ( 712148 )
        This comment made me laugh, then I realized you might not be joking and i was very, very sad.
      • Re:wow. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Excelsior ( 164338 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:09PM (#12457684)
        yeah, no joke.. get rid of the computers and learn the hard way! I was raised without computers until late in highschool, and look at me! I mean, I am single, a musician.. alcoholic.. addicted to porn and constantly refreshing slashd..

        At least it paid off in your grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation skills.
      • I am single, a musician.. alcoholic.. addicted to porn and constantly refreshing slashd..

        nevermind.. keep the computers.


        Single: Yep, being a computer nerd is a great way not to be single.
        Musician:
        Alcoholic: After seeing the goatse.cx man, they will be.
        Addicted to porn: There is no porn online. Really.
        Slashdot: Nope, don't find that online either.

        So yeah, let them keep the computers. At least that'll keep them from becoming musicians. Probably on EverCrack or something to keep them busy, but hey. They're
      • There was a study out of Europe, I think Germany, last month that concluded that having multiple computers in the home led to lower testing grades at school.

        The previous studies in North America of course have concluded that computers give people a competitive advantage over their computerless peers, but that trend I don't believe. I work in the computer industry so to speak, and in a type of educational field, and I may be nuts to say this, but we need fewer computers in the schools, or homes if teachers
    • Re:wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:40PM (#12457344)
      Agree 100%. When i was in school we only had a handful of them. We used them when it was necessary.

      Now look at me, I am a software engineer, I think they are the biggest waste of money within a school, they are "super machines" that people think will make teaching go so much better.

      Give the money to the teachers to higher a better staff, THEN you will have more well informed children. God if they paid $60K+ starting to teach, think of the people they could have instructing.
      • Agree 100%. When i was in school we only had a handful of them. We used them when it was necessary.

        Now look at me, I am a software engineer, I think they are the biggest waste of money within a school, they are "super machines" that people think will make teaching go so much better.


        Computers are not in schools strictly for the potential software engineer. They are there because learning to operate a computer, such as authoring documents on publishing software, or keying in orders, is a requirement for a
        • Re:wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@slashdot.fi ... m ['zee' in gap]> on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:31PM (#12457904) Homepage
          But school computers are often setup in the most restrictive way the school staff could manage, and the holes in their security are furthur enforced by punishments if your caught breaching it.. The restrictive environments don't encourage learning about the guts of the machine atall, they may teach you the bare minimum of how to operate the exact word processing configuration present on the machines. People learn parrot-fashion how to use (not find) the options theyre told they need.
          Me, i was banned from the school computer lab for breaking through their restrictions and accessing a dos prompt, now i'm paid pretty good money as a security consultant doing penetration-testing where i'm SUPPOSED to break security.
      • Re:wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *
        > Give the money to the teachers to higher a better staff, THEN you will
        > have more well informed children. God if they paid $60K+ starting to
        > teach, think of the people they could have instructing.

        If the same 'teaching establishment' were in charge nothing would change except pissing away a lot of money to the same semi-literate hacks we have now.

        Education won't improve until the unions are broken so the incompetents with tenure can be sacked and people with a Phd in Math can teach without spen
        • Paying teachers would do a GREAT deal to make the teaching establishment better. Smarter people would actually make it a goal to teach and improve our society. The "simi-literate" people would be forced out in favor of more competent people.

          You have never had a "genius" teach your class without the understanding that we are paying to be given insight into the material. If the book they choose is incomprehensible and they can not communicate, what use are they as teachers. That is what they are paid for

          • Re:wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dsci ( 658278 )
            FWIW, I know quite a few elementary teachers who are no longer teaching because of POLITICS and BAD DECISION MAKING. None of these got out due to low pay.

            Once at a party, a group of teachers who had left teaching were asked by someone of your mindset (ie, increasing the pay of teachers would "help") and they all said, each and every one, that the pay had nothing whatsoever to do with why they were leaving.

            I know several PhD level scientists who have left teaching for precisely the same reason. I mys
    • Re:wow. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Reaperducer ( 871695 )
      Think how much they would save if they just got rid of the computers.

      It's too bad we can't experiment on children the way we do with lab rats. I'd like to see two nearly identical student bodies -- one with computers, and one without -- and see which really gets further in life. Since the invention of the blackboard, elementary and high school educators have always clamored for the latest gadgets, and sulked when they don't get it. I sometimes wonder if they get more than they need, especially when I
    • No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gabey ( 18874 ) <gps@extrema.net> on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:55PM (#12457536) Homepage
      Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but this would be a tremendous move for schools. Having computers in the classroom is an enormous waste of resources -- teachers rarely know how to use them, students don't use them productively, they're a hassle to maintain (especially if you allow web browsing on them, regardless of the browser you use -- kids will be kids), they're a waste.
      Computers belong in labs and specialized situations in schools (we had a pretty successful mac lab for a media production class at my high school, for instance), and rarely anywhere else. If it makes sense to use a computer for a lesson (typing up a paper, a research day, etc), the teacher can sign up for the lab (that is easily maintained, and can often be staffed by students).
      • Not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but this would be a tremendous move for schools.

        Okay kids, for tomorrow bring me a 10 pages essay on blahblahblah. And DO NOT use computers! It has to be done by hand!
        -What?
        -But teacher...
        -No way!

        Yeah, tremendous move indeed.
    • Some schools buy computers for the mere sake of having them. They think the mere presence of a computer in front of a student will make him learn faster or better. The reality is computers change the way students work, but not always for the better.

      If you are going to have computers in schools - and I think you should - do the following:
      1) make sure you have the electrical and networking infrastructure in place ahead of time, or at least concurrent with hardware delivery
      2) train the teachers on how to us
  • Libraries too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC ( 644172 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:35PM (#12457276)
    I hope libraries take note of this as well as schools... If libraries aren't the standard-bearer for interoperable Web sites, document formats, and any other kind of information exchange, who will be?

    This is the insidious thing about Bill's Foundation. Libraries get placed on the MS upgrade cycle, hooked by the initial free-ness. Then try doing anything with your machines without spending a whole lot of money...

    • If libraries aren't the standard-bearer for interoperable Web sites, document formats, and any other kind of information exchange, who will be?


      Microsoft.
    • Re:Libraries too (Score:3, Informative)

      by cascadefx ( 174894 ) *
      That's why organizations/resources like Linux in Libraries [linuxinlibraries.com] exist. They are working for putting Linux in public spaces. There are a number of cool projects that this group has pointed me to including Koha [koha.org], an open source library system and implementers of open source library solutions like LibLime [liblime.com]. Check them out.
    • Re:Libraries too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *
      > I hope libraries take note of this as well as schools... If libraries
      > aren't the standard-bearer for interoperable Web sites, document
      > formats, and any other kind of information exchange, who will be?

      Well our library was more than happy to accept Bill & Melinda's generous contributions. For the time the hardware was pretty solid midrange and ran our Linux based patron model quite nicely. And even though the software licenses were a joke (locked to both the hardware AND the library but co
  • linux! (Score:2, Funny)

    by derxob ( 835539 )
    elementry schools should be using linux.. I would have had a blast back then playing super-tux instead of friggen oragon trail..
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:36PM (#12457286)
    Perhaps the support costs as the schools using free software were lower because their staff was a lot smarter to begin with? ;-)
    • by Otter ( 3800 )
      In seriousness, I'm sure that's partly true -- schools that switch to open-source are obviously a non-random sample.

      Nonetheless, I can believe these numbers. Libraries and elementary schools are no-brainers for using Linux and free software apps. Anyway, this is an improvement on the usual hypothetical TCO numbers pulled out of one side's ass or the other's.

  • by bardothodal ( 864753 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:38PM (#12457305) Homepage Journal
    You can save tons on licenses and expensive hardware. Also you can teach children how computers actually work instead of giving them what MS wants the PC to be ... a glorified VCR.
  • that I am 5 to 10 years ahead of my time.

    Thank you.

  • No! (Score:4, Funny)

    by guitaristx ( 791223 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:38PM (#12457315) Journal
    You mean our schools might actually promote learning, sharing, innovation, and playing nice with others? Say it ain't so!

    It's amazing to me how rarely we see "academic" software like Unix & Linux in our schools. I'm fortunate enough to be assisting in setting up a private school's computer network, all Linux, baby!
    • academic software??? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by big-giant-head ( 148077 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:11PM (#12457702)
      Every corp I worked for in the last 12 years:

      AVIS Rent a Car,
      Red Sky Interactive (Dot Com failure so maybe they don't count?)
      Mens Wearhouse
      Hertz Rent A Car
      FAA

      All of the big app servers have been Solaris or Linux or AIX..... Granted they had windows desktops, windows servers for Peoplesoft, but all the Oracle/DB2, Java App server, Transaction management, Messanging etc.. Everything I actully wrote code on/for was some kind of *nix box.

      So I keep hearing about the importantance of knowing Office etc.. I could see that it has some value, but I have NEVER hired anyone nor been hired myself based any kind of m$ office skills....

      If somone is smart and can learn Word perfect or open Off or m$ off, then they can easily learn another package.

    • Re:No! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sporkinum ( 655143 )
      'Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning' - George W. Bush.
  • "That M$ will not agree to this notion". They will point to Equifax and some other customers including some city in Britain, that opted for Microsoft products instead of the so called free software.

    When it comes to slashdot, there will be so many opinions, including those from posters who think they know, but who in effect, know so little to know that they know nothing.

    Have a good weekend guys.

  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:39PM (#12457323)


    The Register is such a timesaver for Slashdotters...it has the anti-M$ slant built in.

  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:39PM (#12457324) Homepage
    As an average person from Kansas, I object to using something that seems to be created out of nowhere.

    God didn't create Microsoft Office to Futs in us unused [about.com].

  • Quality - naaaaa... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wackymacs ( 865437 )
    Maybe schools want to pay money for Microsoft's programs for every computer because they *think* the quality of it will be better than the open-source because it costs money, and you get what you pay for. Though this certainly isn't really the case.

    • "Maybe schools want to pay money for Microsoft's programs for every computer because they *think* the quality of it will be better than the open-source because it costs money, and you get what you pay for. Though this certainly isn't really the case."

      Have you ever used Open Office? MS Office is much better.
  • Do you know who the superintendent(s) of your local public school board are? Those are the people who are responsible for the continued economic vitality of your community, so if you don't know, find out today, and ask them to stop paying the Microsoft tax. Windows and Office are anachronisms, the rulers of the 80s and 90s, which have through base greed lost any claim to a place in today's classroom.

    Do you have it within you to write a clear, three-paragraph letter to the chair of a school board today? Please prove it, by posting its text in reply to this comment.

    The challenge is made; who among you are human enough to meet it?

    • "Windows and Office are anachronisms"

      Dude, pass some of whatever you've been smoking this way. Like I said elsewhere, I'm far from the president of the MS fan club, but anybody who gets any low- to mid-level job anywhere is going to be sitting in front of a Winbox and needs to know how to use it. Sure, Linux would be great to teach to kids who know at age 10 they want to be developers or sysadmins, but the average person working the average job is *gonna* be on Windows. It's unfortunate, but it's the tr
      • Sure, they are commonplace /now/

        We are talking about secondary schools here though, these normally have pupils aged 11-18(ish).

        Assume you have a typical office worker, who does their A-levels, takes a gap year, goes to a middling 'university' then sells their soul working in some mindless office job (quite a common situation, at least in the South East of the UK)

        These 11-year olds, entering school today, won't enter the work force for about a decade.

        10-12 years ago, the Amiga was still alive, win

  • School's Motive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:40PM (#12457337)
    I've always wondered why schools don't use Linux. If kids start with it, they would all be able to embrace technology to the fullest extent, where in Windows, all you get is annoying paperclips, error messages, and EVERYTHING spoon-fed to you so it's as bland as possible.
  • by bechthros ( 714240 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:40PM (#12457339) Homepage Journal
    "Now if only the government wasn't insistent on locking schools into using Microsoft in arguably illegal ways."

    So it was OK for my city's entire public school system and library system to lock me into using Apples all the way up until my senior year, but it's not OK to lock people into using Windows? Apple has long been known for educational discounts in exchange for school systems agreeing to use Apple exclusively and pressure their students into buying them. It happened to many friends of mine and almost happened to me.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not the president of the MS fan club or anything, but I gotta say it was really really annoying having to be programming in nothing but BASIC on IIgs's in 1991. I was overjoyed when our school was the chosen pilot for the PC program - I learned a lot more about computers a lot more quickly.

    That said, locking students into any one system is bad. I say, have a Mac, a Winbox, and linux box all running side by side and let the students decide which one they want to use. Let them, to coin a phrase, compete in the marketplace of ideas. Isn't competition the American way?
    • 1. the article is dealing with the united kingdom
      2. students aren't paying for the computers, e.g., no market
      3. regardless of whether you're using a windows, mac, or linux machine today, there's an enormous amount of free software available for all those platforms. today's students certainly aren't stuck developing in basic like they were 15 years ago.
      • " 1. the article is dealing with the united kingdom"

        That's an awful lot of characters used just to say RTFM. Guilty as charged. The points I was trying to make remain valid no matter what country it's in. Competition is good. Students learning more than one OS is good. And when it somes to monopolizing entire school districts, Microsoft is very late to Apple's game.

        "2. students aren't paying for the computers, e.g., no market"

        Marketplace of ideas. [wikipedia.org]

        "regardless of whether you're using a windows, mac
    • by 3nuff ( 824173 ) <erecshion@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:20PM (#12457786) Homepage Journal

      Speaking as someone who started learning how to program on an Apple II at age 12, then moving to Mac OS, then to WinTel at 16, and arriving at Linux in my 20s, I can say that it doesn't really matter what is in front of the student.

      What matters are the fundamentals that we are teaching. As an example, my sixth grade teacher would spend time after school with me helping me debug BASIC programs on the ol Apple II. What my teacher did was set the stage for me to grasp fundamental logic concepts. This knowledge allowed me to move freely in the computing world. That type of knowledge transcends making the font bold or creating that powerpoint slide. This is what the computer should be used for, not some silly test of which button to push, hell, you can tech mice that kind of crap.

    • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:22PM (#12457809)
      Locking people to Macs? Bad.
      Locking people to MS? Bad

      Locking people to Linux? Good!.

      Students should learn on linux. They can really get to the guts to learn how computers work. They can even make contributions if they want. Finally you are not whoring your students to some company.
      • Right. You could probably argue that it's impossible to be "locked in" to Linux except at the API level (and there's no way around that so it's hardly lockin). Usually the term means vendor lockin which is naturally impossible because - assuming Red Hat don't turn evil and start using MS style agreements - there are always multiple vendors to choose from.
    • A national goverment policy locking schools into buying from a single company if they want funding is quite different from a group of schools deciding independently from the national government which machines to purchase, to be fair.
  • not really clear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moz25 ( 262020 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:41PM (#12457348) Homepage
    While I certainly agree with the sentiment of the news article, isn't it a little premature to link to an article that only announces a real report. I am interested in the details and how they obtain the 24% mark. My estimate would be more in the 10% range.

    Considering the earlier article regarding OpenOffice, it might make sense to calculate [expensive license] - free = savings. But where does that leave cheap academic licensing?
    • My estimate would be more in the 10% range.

      (all prices estimated in canadian $)
      Let's add things up. XP Home, regular retail $150
      MS office about $300

      BASIC OS + BASIC OFFICE SUITE $450
      I'm sure schools would purchase more than those two pieces of software alone, which pushes the software cost even higher.

      Suppose schools get 50% discount, that's still $225.

      If that is 10%, that's a computer worth $2,000 which would make some game loving script kiddie have wet dreams every night for months.

      I'd estim
  • ...until Microsoft comes and 'buys you out'. /D'oh!
  • The Microsoft Mafia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NatteringNabob ( 829042 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:42PM (#12457364)
    At my son's school, there is a computer literacy test which students must pass to graduate. So what is the requirement for computer literacy? Writing a shell program? Creating a home page using HTML? Writing a business letter? No, of course not. The student must demonstrate that they know how to use Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel. I'm fairly certain that such a requirement would not hold up in court, but where did it come from in the first place?
    • I've just done a national (albeit non-compulsory) so-called "key skills" test here in the UK.

      Far from being a school thing, this is a test for college students.

      Easy enough, you might think. However, I ran into difficulties, finding I might not be able to pass, as I'd typed the files as a ".sxw" file, not a Word .doc.

      Furthermore, there is a possibility in my upcoming A level computing exam, if I write an answer in Linux terminology rather than Windows I won't get the marks. Similarly, mark sche

    • by g1zmo ( 315166 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:30PM (#12457892) Homepage
      The exact same skills are required of all college graduates (at least here in Texas). At my school (from which I'm graduating next week!!), it's up to each department within the university how those requirements are met, but most departments just created a 1-credit-hour class that's required before you can graduate. In the CSE (my) department, it was lumped into a very generic "computer ethics" course that hardly no one goes to except to turn in their "lab assignments", which are things like creating a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation (!), etc.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:43PM (#12457386) Journal
    but as people get more and more accepting of OSS the more we'll see it. Who would've guessed 7 or 8 years ago that there would be an exodus of entire governments switching to OSS? Software is becoming a commodity in functionality. As an example Word became all anybody needed with Version 97. M$, as an ongoing business concern needs to keep selling upgraded software even if the new features are things you don't need. This isn't something that OSS suffers from. If it ever gets the bugs out completely Open Office is set to become much more important. After all why keep upgrading M$ stuff when you don't need to? (Munich anyone?)

    If we ever see Google embrace Open Office and champion OSS then it could become a viable threat to M$, the likes of which M$ hasn't seen.

    OSS has been making great inroads these last few years and sadly it is not going away as much as M$ would love to see happen. M$ just needs to learn the lesson that IBM did. As time goes by you have to evolve from a company that creates standards to one that contributes to them. The past is littered with the carnage of companies who did not learn this.

    Not that M$ will ever go away.
    • Sorry to say that, but Google is too smart to embrace some bloated crap like Open Office that has only one point in favor of it and that is the license. In every other aspect they copied all the bad ideas in MS Office and they don't have 100% compatibility which would be the other reason to use something like that. Of course it is better than nothing but I (and lots of other people) usually regard Open Office is one of the worst high profile Open Source projects.
  • Didn't you know?
    • SCO has a copyright on Eunuchs! Although we're fairly sure Darl isn't one... in fact, some of us are wondering how the guy even manages to walk will cajones that big!
  • Because they are switching back to Dells [timesdispatch.com].

    Granted, OS X is not open-source, but I would have been OK with an OS X to complete-open-source migration. I am not OK with an OS X to Windoze backwards migration.
    • Actually, they'd been using OS 9 on most of not all of the laptops in Henrico county.
      OS 9 is not what I would consider a good demonstration of what Apple's capable of in 2005...

      Either system would've been a big leap from what they had. Oh well.

      Being an Apple fan, I'd like to hear the problems they have with the new Dells, or the extra work they might have to do or the extra money they'll pay for support, etc.
  • by Compunerd ( 107084 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @04:51PM (#12457487) Homepage
    Take a look at http://skolelinux.org/ [skolelinux.org] to see what can be done to create an elemtary school distro. It's installation friendly, somehow userfriendly (KDE 2) and has nice setups for thin-client environments.

    roy
    • For those interested, I'll elaborate a bit about Skolelinux:

      Skolelinux (School Linux in Norwegian) is a customized Debian distribution. It's based on Woody, but a version based on Sarge is in the works.

      The philosophy of Skolelinux is that it should be super easy to install and -- most importantly -- maintain. The installer asks three questions -- language, password and a profile, where the profile is either "Main server", "Thin client server" or "Workstation". Then, centralized authentication and file sto
  • Seems like the average economics student could figure out this is bullshit.

    Supply of msft admins = high
    Supply of non-msft admins = low

    Replacing all msft admins with the low # of non-msft admins = high demand for a low amount of resources.

    Which makes the non-msft admins outrageously expensive. Thus, negating the savings...

    Seriously, where is the average school in po-dunk Mississippi going to find a quality non-msft admin cheaply when a drop-out could do msft administration?
    • Seems like.

      You missed out the quality of the admins and the numbers of problems which have to be solved per desktop etc etc.

      I for example am quite expensive. I can on the other hand quite easily set up a system that supports hundreds, thousands of concurrent users and requires bugger all administration, on cheap commodity, even obsolete, hardware. A small amount of time from an expensive admin is cheap. A large amount of time from a cheap admin is expensive.

    • Because the drop-outs do a poor job, and end up with poorly running spyware/virus infested networks..
      Sure, someone clueless *can* run a windows network, but they don't do a very good job of it.. Securing windows to the extent required to prevent the students and internet nasties making mincemeat of the network is actually MUCH HARDER than doing the same on a unix platform. You have to disable a lot of core functionality of the os because it's flawed and insecure, you have to heavily restrict apps like word
  • The report shows an average saving of 24% per computer

    Sorry to pick nits, but qualifying 24% with "per computer" is meaningless.
    • It's not meaningless, it's just wrong. It means that if they bought 4 computers they could save 96%.
    • Unless they have something like 1000 computers or a similarly rediculously large number of 'seats' it might be cheaper to buy individual licenses per machine which still makes it 'per computer'.

      They could instead pay a hefty license for the 'corporate' version of windows which no longer makes it 'per computer', but more 'per seat' and the more computers they purchase, the per seat cost drops.

      To me, 24% per computer and 24% per seat are two different things and adding that qualifier is a reasonable stateme
  • I met with a school district today to discuss Blackberry implementation. They used some POP3 mail server I'd never heard of. So, their choices were:
    1. Blackberry Web Client (which is less featured and only solves email)
    2. Desktop Redirector (which requires supporting an app on all desktops that now have to be left running all the time)
    3. An integrated BES/POP3 Product (which costs roughly 3 times a BES alone)
    4. Convert to a supported platform

    Now, for a supported platform, they can choose between Domino, Novell

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention that when a couple of the folks in the meeting looked VERY worried about losing the added functionality of the BES (MDS, Wireless Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, etc.) the IT guy looked at the superintendent and said "Well, I was TOLD to buy the cheapest mail server available."

      Just thought the story might be illuminating from a cost vs. capability discussion.
  • What We'd Need (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:18PM (#12457760) Journal
    In order for this to happen, I'd need the following to happen first:

    * All other agencies that communicate with my district would have to settle on a common, open document format, and stay with it. We need to read what the state sends us.

    * Our student information systems would have to support something other than Microsoft products. Tell NCS/Pearson to port SASIxp/IGPro/PCXP to something other than Windows. Follet Software did it with their media circulation software. It's far from impossible.

    * All other agencies need to hire something other than web developers who took a half-semester ASP programming course.

    * Our accounting systems need to be ported to something other than Windows. There are no cost-effective systems that run on Linux (it's not just initial purchase, it's the support availability).

    Where I could substitute with Linux, I did. It's not just Internet access and games for kids, either. Many districts are computerized from top to bottom, so the answer to "why do we need computers in schools", is "because it saves labor costs and gets the job done faster." You also might want to consider that many schools don't have full-time IT staff. Most of the available contractors are MS Certified Reset-button Pushers.
    • Re:What We'd Need (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NullProg ( 70833 )
      I don't think they are advocating removing Windows/Office from the Administrators. Allthough saving tax-payers money should always be the goal of any school district. More money = more teachers and better salary for others.

      Advocate using Linux/OpenOffice to teach computer fundamentals to the kids. Word Processing, SpreadSheets, Graphics, etc. These activities don't require expensive Microsoft software.

      Enjoy,
  • YES I absolutely agree that computers should be done away with. Until a user can actually appreciate what it does, it's actually a very fundamental facet of education that's being lost where computers are being used in education today.

    I'll use a good friend as an example which I don't think should be considered typical but remains as a good illustration. He took a test recently for a job. The test actually had some "long division" problems in it. He had completely forgotten how to do that. He's a shar
  • Think about the cost for the kids education. They are teached to use a system that is designed so you don't have to THINK while using the computer. It's maybe ok for your grandma (It's still ethically wrong to use it since it's proprietary), but, do we want our childs to go to school so they are teached NOT to think?.

    Unix is the way to go.
  • by mikeb ( 6025 ) on Friday May 06, 2005 @05:45PM (#12458055) Homepage
    For a case study with costings (in fact it was used to illustrate the lead story in the Times Educational Supplement print edition), Orwell High School in Felixstowe is hard to beat. Then again I would say that, wouldn't I, since I was involved in implementing it. Their savings amount to very much more than the modest 20% to 40% mentioned in the TES article. The case study is at
    http://cutterproject.co.uk/Casestudies/orwell_cost _benefit.php [cutterproject.co.uk].
    The school has costed its savings at 40,000 pounds (UK) per year - or in the region of US$70,000 I guess.

    There is something really pleasing in seeing five classroms of 30 or so kids each sit down and use a Linux desktop as the most natural thing in the world.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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