> Personal opinion: 95% of web apps just don't cut it. If you're talking about
> SaaS, the problems highlighted by Salesforce.com's recent downtime are
> testament to that - and as I'm sure you're well aware, school timetables and
> the National Curriculum have even less margin for troubleshooting IT than
> even the business sector. If I was a teacher I would hate it hate it hate it
> if I couldn't teach a class because the main host server was bogged down
> with too many intensive tasks, or it fell over or lagged out or needed to be
> failed over for some reason.

You tend to find better resources at the LEA level.

For example bathnes.sch.uk provides all the email for the county (Bath
and North-East Somerset) and have seemingly few problems with uptime.

The South West Grid for Learning is currently delivering a Learning
Platform called Merlin to all counties in the south west,
http://www.swgfl.org.uk/services/learning_platforms/default.asp -
although from what I understand opinions are, er, divided about
whether it can achieve its goals.

Note I'm not affiliated with these groups, nor am I a teacher, just
showing that working, LEA-or-bigger SaaS *is* being delivered because
of that better resourcing.

> I'm still personally very sceptical of thin client solutions, I don't think
> their capabilities ar sufficient to satisfy all the potential uses for
> educational machines. And I wouldn't like to have all that total reliance on
> just a handful of extremely powerful servers; it's bad enough when the
> Internet proxy server goes down or the network drive can't be accessed
> because the Active Directory is having a fit, but to have a classful of
> children sitting in front of dumb terminals when the primary host server for
> that classroom's client machines goes down? Wuh oh.

School network reliability aside, many Universities across the UK are
deploying thin clients as we speak, my current employer (the
University of Bath) has rolled out something like 400 in the past 12
months, without any significant problems. A number of other
universities have had similar experiences. Bath are rolling out Sun
Ray machines, as are, again, some of the other universities.

All the components you mention above are probably equally as important
- if the AD server goes down for a day and no-one can log in? Wuh oh.
If the proxy is down and a teacher can't show the class the youtube
video of a science experiment or get them to do some research for a
project? Wuh oh.

> There must be
> some reason other than bloody-mindedness that makes schools keep on going
> for full-PC solutions time after time though...

Other people have already said there's a lack of funding and
availability of high-quality IT technicians - so who gets to make the
purchasing decisions for the school? It probably appears massively
easier to maintain that contract with Dell or RM than it is to rip out
an infrastructure, retrain and restaff based on a thin-client solution
- especially if you're then going to base it on something like LTSP
where all the software is completely different as well.

As a side note, I can guarantee Dave that educational software from
five years ago that is essential in the classroom today does not run
under Wine even now :)

> I have a feeling that most schools
> would carry on using their existing setups regardless because it's too much
> hassle to change.

Oops, forgot you did actually say that :)

Cheers,

Phil
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