[clug] Linux in education

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Fri Oct 5 13:14:33 GMT 2007

Hash: SHA1

Pilcher, Fred wrote:
> In a previous life I worked in ACT Education and in those days it was
> half Apple, half MS. These days I suspect Apple would be a rarity and
> Linux is probably nonexistant. My eldest graduated from Dickson College
> last year and my youngest is at Lyneham High. They use Linux at home of
> course, but never saw or heard of it at school. If my suspicions are
> correct, what an incredible waste of resources must be going on, not
> just in the cost of buying software but also in supporting it and
> keeping it running and relatively secure; how much valuable teacher time
> and money could be saved, and how much more creative could the kids be,
> if they moved to a FOSS environment?

It is an incredible waste.  It's also an incredible situation to have
schoolchildren educated to use specific software in classrooms funded by
taxpayers.  Imagine if we also taught them to pray to a specific deity - oh,
I'm sorry, religious schools already do that.  Er, imagine if we taught them
to only use certain types of products - dang, companies are already doing this
by marketing 'health packs' and 'student packs' of stuff including their own
branded items and 'helpful notes' to buy more.  Well, that's it, our education
system is fscked.

I think the best advantage that FOSS offers for education is that everyone can
use the same software without any cost at all.  You're doing a unit on
astronomy?  Use (thingo???)  Need everyone to give presentations?  OpenOffice
has Impress.  Teaching the fundamentals of accounting?  Gnucash and more.
Want to do some sound recording and editing in an A/V class?  Audacity, Kino,
Cinelerra, etc.  There are heaps of applications for all curricula and

By getting its monopoly over the home and business computer OS, Microsoft has
managed to make itself ubiquitous.  They are the ultimate parasite, the
ultimate drug - one that convinces you you need to keep on using it despite it
being bad for you.  The worst thing to me is to hear Open Source advocates
then defend their weakest features - price and lock-in - by saying that we
can't challenge them because "the education industry believes in their
values".  This to me is like saying that we must accept smoking crack because
the crack dealers always give you your first time free, or like people
ensuring their daughters have the chance of getting a crippling, fatal disease
because their religious beliefs make them think that somehow this will make
them more promiscuous.  Oh, sorry, that's actual fact in Australia right now.

I feel that it's important to work on this on every level available.  We need
to talk to our local schools about the software they use and offer our
services both individually and collectively to help them use FOSS.  We need to
get behind open source lobby groups in their dealings with federal and state
education departments.  We need to develop and assist in developing
educational software.  And we need to continue to use FOSS wherever we can,
and help the children (and adults) around us to learn about it.

Have fun,


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