> > And yet they will end up on a newer Microsoft operating 
> system at some 
> > point. ;-)
> Right - if they really stayed put with what they have, then 
> they'd still be using Acorns. Which probably taught kids more 
> about computer science than the XP machines in use today ;-)
> So, rather than spending on the Windows 7 upgrade, better to 
> invest in the switch to software freedom. WINE will take care 
> of legacy proprietary educational applications for the short 
> period where they get re-implemented as free software.

If only it were that assured... Wine's hardware 3D support is, from what
friends who use it tell me, still quite potholed - and I don't even think it
has fully fledged hardware T&L support. Hell, VMWare doesn't have full
hardware T&L support yet, and that's far more widely used. For that reason
alone, it won't be adopted to run graphics editing apps, graphics department
software, cad software...

The main sticking point for most schools is the "can we help students if..."
question. Hypothetical scenario: a student who's never used Edubuntu before
comes to the teacher in charge of the class and says, "miss/sir, I know how
to do <zyx> in microsoft Word because we have it at home, but I've not used
OpenOffice before and I don't know how to figure it out. Can you help me?"

The teacher says, "erm, yes kid no problem, let me just go Google for the
answer because I don't know myself."

Dingdingding we have a winner! The class loses respect for the teacher
because they cannot lead and instantly assist the pupil, the teacher feels
demoralised because they don't have all the knowledge they need to lead the
class, and the whole scenario quickly descends into anarchy, as unguided
classes often do. Most teachers, IT teachers aside because by their nature
they are ahead of the curve, will have a working knowledge - not a technical
knowledge, just a working knowledge - in the basic suite of DTP and
productivity tools, plus Internet Explorer and maybe Firefox and whatever
other hand-picked apps the school has on their systems.

To retrain an entire school of teachers so that they are up to speed with
the foibles and intricacies of a whole new suite of apps is unrealistic to
say the least, at the most entirely impossible especially if you have supply
teachers, part-time or percentage teachers, or people who just aren't
technologically minded. My mum is one of the latter; she can just about use
a system if it's common everywhere, but a lot of what she does by her own
admission is learnt by rote and reinforced through use both at school and at
home. She is perhaps at more of a disadvantage than the current generation
of schoolkids - she cannot think laterally to solve computing problems, she
either has to be shown or be instructed. Kids on the other hand pick stuff
up far more easily (there's the old family story of how at 18 months old, I
figured out how to turn on an Apple ][e, its printer and its external SCSI
hard drive one morning just by watching my Dad the day before... Appparently
I was sitting there using Paint 8)

The point behind that (true!) story was that kids seem to be able to pick
new stuff up far more quickly than the adults who are supposedly teaching
them! And that's the massive problem facing any school that even wants to
consider migrating the vast majority of its computers away from an
established, well understood platform and OS, be they proprietary or not.

... I hope that some of these new build schools sieze the opportunity and
set their systems up with a good chunk of FOSS though!

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