Open Source Software in Schools

The Becta report based on an ‘oportunity’ sample of schools using Open Source software to varying extents compared to schools using commercial software (i.e. Windows servers, desktops and Office) has now been published (publication was delayed during the General Election).

There is a lot of interesting stuff in the report – not least the authors’ examination of the equilibrium between staff training and direct support costs in the various schools. Open Source software was being used in three categories; server, desktop OS and applications. Applications included

  • OpenOffice (and Star Office)
  • The GIMP graphics program (both for painting and for photo retouching interestingly)
  • Audacity sound editor

and other bits and pieces. The anecdote that stuck in my mind most was the classroom support assistant who sometimes used MS Word (Word Art for posters) and sometimes used OpenOffice (for ‘bashing in lots of text’) and saw them simply as slightly different tools for different jobs.

There is a lot in this report of interest apart from the Open Source angle – just views of teachers and support staff about the use of IT in education, and the way that the introduction of new technology can increase support/training issues in a cycle. A full summary will appear soon!

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