[ILUG] Thoughts on the provision of a laptop to every secondary
james at jamesgalvin.net
Sat Feb 17 02:21:26 GMT 2007
Those are very fair points, and I agree that a non-Windows based
system would be far more beneficial to the students. Most of these
students would already have access to a Windows PC at home, and the
exposure to other systems at an early age would build an awareness
that is sorely lacking among our adult population. Difficulties
could potentially stem from the teachers' inability to technically
support the OS, but this is easily balanced by the the lack of
spyware and viruses, which in turn reduces the need for support.
There was a presentation at Moodlemoot last week which outlined an
initiative by the South Dublin County Council to create a virtual
learning environment for secondary students in Tallaght - http://
The laptops given to each student dual booted into Windows XP and
Ubuntu Linux. The Linux partition costs absolutely nothing, but
brings so many potential benefits that it would be very difficult to
justify its omission - especially considering the fact that there are
free distros like Edubuntu specifically oriented towards schools.
On 16 Feb 2007, at 14:53, John Madden wrote:
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> Mr. Coveney,
> As an IT contractor, I read with interest the piece in your most
> weekly newsletter (16th February 2007) about the provision of one
> to every pupil starting secondary school. I can tell you, I would have
> loved to have been given a laptop to use in secondary school,
> instead of
> lugging around a bag full of books and notepads!
> However I would have some reservations about such a plan. I've seen
> regularly in the recent past school districts (as close as in the UK)
> investigating the software to run on the PC's in their schools.
> Many of
> these schools look towards GNU/Linux as a low cost alternative to
> Microsoft Windows, only to have Microsoft lower their prices
> sufficiently to tempt the schools to go for their product.
> Unfortunately, while there may be an initial saving, this causes
> lock-in, where all documents created and used in the schools will be
> dependant on software provided by a vendor. Microsoft, instead of
> adopting a ratified standard (in the form of the Open Document Format,
> ISO/IEC 26300:2006), have chosen to push for another standard of their
> creating. They are known for their unwillingness to interoperate with
> other vendors or with open standards, because this prevents the
> and forced upgrades which make them so much money.
> As well as this, the provision of a Windows-based laptop to every
> entering secondary school will severely limit the ICT knowledge and
> skills that this scheme wants to promote. In more open systems, like
> GNU/Linux, the inner workings of the operating system and the software
> can be investigated and changed, if the user wishes to do so. On top
> of this, a non-Windows based system will essentially eliminate the
> headache of viruses, spyware, phishing and all other sorts of malware
> attacks which riddle Windows machines today.
> Lastly, if this scheme goes ahead, I know Microsoft will bend over
> backwards to get their software on all these laptops. I would ask that
> instead of basing a decision solely or primarily on price, you look at
> the wider benefits of knowledge and understanding of a computer,
> of the Windows-focussed view of a lot of today's computer "experts".
> Avoid making our education system simply another notch on Microsoft's
> bedpost (for want of a better metaphor!). Give the impressive software
> being built outside of Microsoft's walls a chance to shine, and enable
> the students to get a better understanding of the computer as a whole,
> instead of just Internet Explorer, My Computer and the Control Panel.
> Thank you for your time.
> - --
> John Madden -- john at jmadden.eu
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