[Linux-aus] Getting FOSS into schools

Jonathan Woithe jwoithe at just42.net
Fri May 11 16:40:27 EST 2012


This is a followup to the comments I made in the "Recent comments made to
Education and Health Committee" thread a few days ago.  To underline the
exposure problem that FOSS has, through a complicated chain of unrelated
events I have just become aware of the following convention being held at
the end of this month in Sydney:


It's a national "technology in education" congress.  You can get a very good
idea of what's going on from the above website.  This is a significant
conference: even the principal from our little 300-student school is
travelling from Adelaide to Sydney for it.  He considers it to be a showcase
of what ICT is available for schools now, and what's on the horizon.

I draw your attention to the panel down the right hand side where supporters
and sponsors are listed.  From my brief (and perhaps naive) glance, I don't
see a single mention of a company or organisation which will be promoting
FOSS to the education sector.  Similarly for the exhibitors at


(although I note with interest one rather significant absentee).  We need to
have people at these events, actively promoting the educational benefits of
Arduino, Raspberry Pi, open solutions for school administration,
Libreoffice, Inkscape, Gimp, (etc etc) and all the other educational
software solutions which are out there.

This is one example of the sorts of events I was talking about - what's said
and demonstrated at these conferences[1] is what will dictate the technology
adopted by schools and education departments in the coming years.  Without
someone active in this area - attending these events and promoting FOSS to
the principals and teachers attending - I can tell you precisely how much
penetration FOSS will have into the primary and secondary education sector
over the next 5 years: none at all.  And that scares me.

I fully realise that it's easy for me to sit back and type this; doing
something about it is *much* harder and would take considerable time, money
and effort.  However, from my observations of the sector over the last few
years it's clear that we can't expect change if the status quo continues. 
Unless we can encourage FOSS suppliers and supporters to promote FOSS at
these events there's absolutely no way FOSS will be widely adopted in
schools across Australia.


[1] And at the many smaller teacher gatherings which are more

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