…. is not that its microsoft or apple, is not that its Office 2007 or 2010. No, my problem is choice and certainty.
While the ministry has been quoted in interface magazine as saying ”The agreement covers almost 200,000 computers and provides schools with certainty for the next three years,” said Howard Baldwin, Acting Manager, e-Learning. I personally feel it doesn’t.
Teachers will face the change to Vista or Windows 7, They will face the change to Office 2007 or Office 2010.
These changes will not be comfortable. The change to vista will require schools to increase specifications in their computer systems and the change of OS & productivity suite will require re-training for many staff. This is not certainty.
But more importantly there is a lack of choice. Are schools able to opt out of this deal, retain the funding and use alternative products? Are they able to implement open office and rechannel the MS deals funding back into ICT? Are they able to use Edubuntu as an OS and repurpose the funding to provide laptop pods, smartboards, digital cameras, flip videos or a host of other tools?
Some will argue that “We should stay with the market leader!” well perhaps we should look at the future of cloud computing and stick with the likes of Google documents, Zoho Documents, Adobe’s Buzzword and presentation tool. See The NMC Horizon Project
Some will also say that open office is not up with the times, is old fashioned and lacks new features. But if you look below at the screenshot recently posted on life hacker you may change your opinion. And for those who say well it can do everything – Please tell me what Open Office can’t do that MS Office or iWorks can?
I have issues here with a lack of choice. The certainty spoken of is fictional, are we going to see changes in the next 3 years from Apple and Microsoft in their OSes and Productivity tools? Of course – so teachers will have to retrain and adapt this is certain
So the question is – Can schools have the choice to select their own software that best suites their needs and use the funding allocation to best support the integration of ICT into their classrooms and teaching & learning practice.