[Lias] [Linux-aus] Open Letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
andrew.dorrell at cisra.canon.com.au
Tue Jul 8 13:25:52 EST 2008
Sridhar Dhanapalan wrote
> To be honest, I fear that we might be only hurting ourselves by tying open
> education to a completely Free computing environment. That might be a worthy
> aim, but few institutions are going to switch over all in one go. By offering
> a migration path (or paths), a school can migrate more comfortably at its own
> pace. We ought to be providing real choice, not just a binary 'with us or
> with the terrists'.
I'd like to agree with that. Choice should be the primary objective.
Avoiding *having to use* a particular platform because it is the only
way to run some application that someone has decided everyone must use
is a noble enough aim.
IMHO some of the most significant "Open" minded efforts in recent times
have not been software ones but knowledge ones. There is an increasing
amount of open "courseware" of very high quality (examples from MIT and
IEEE are in my mind). To me it is this attitude to sharing knowledge
that is fundamental.
My personal passion for open source software and open standards in
schools stems from the view that access to this knowledge must be
equitable. The need to purchase a computer and internet service already
means some kids miss out in the home environment. The need to purchase
additional commercial software just to participate adds to this
inequity. These are the barriers that a mindful public education
program should be concerned about minimising. In so much as OSS can
help address this inequity it should be embraced.
A simple step would be to ensure all school computers had all the
software required to support open standard formats (e.g. openoffice, pdf
reader etc) and important multi-platform formats (quicktime, windows
media, ogg etc.) pre-installed. Currently that's just not the case.
BTW, for high schools, zotero, which makes it easy to track and list
your information sources in assignments and essays is a great reason to
use firefox. And it integrates with openoffice and word - your choice!
At my kids high school we are charged a "computer services" fee, part of
which buys them a USB drive... but its empty. Why not give all kids a
USB key with firefox portable edition + zotero on it so they can carry
their bookmarks and research work with them? Why not pack it with other
free portable OSS apps on at the same time
Linux on the desktop? One obvious place for it is on low cost laptops.
The ones that cost about $600, run like a dog with windows vista and
fall outside the new XP license agreement (for example they have normal
Just some thoughts,
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