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RE: [LINK] Re: [SLUG] NSW DET to be urged to use OSS


OK, missed the beginning of this thread, but here is my two cents worth. I
have taught for 20 years so have some experience, have introduced a number
of CS courses and worked on Syllabus committees, HSC MArking etc, I only
mention these as giving me some credence. I am currently the IT Manager at
my school and I need to emphasise these are personal opinions not my
schools.

We are a school that is into Linux and OSS at the server level and some
applications (web based). The issues you have to deal with I believe are not
the execs and top level, but the staff, the front-line teachers as it were.
They want to use computing tools but thsy do not want them to get in their
way, they need them to assist the education process not hinder. The vast
majority of them are familiar with MS Office apps and Windows in general and
see no reason to change and what they use at home they want to use at work -
no double learning. Of course cost is NOT an issue the vast majority of the
software is pirated and so is essentially free, a kind of Pirate Public
Licence. So you win no friends by even suggesting that there may be another
way, they already know that, but don't care.

Where you need to come from is from the 'back room', the servers and web
based apps. You need to provide systems that help and improve their life
(trust me teaching is generally a highly stressful and difficult job). We
started with internet access, provided the whole school (40 systems at the
time) with Internet access from a dial-up modem (28K) whilst Ozemail were
still trying to work out how to get Windows to do it (these were the 3.1
days). So they had a choice, use the Ozemail system on one machine in the
school and pay for the Server and Windows software or use a Linux server and
access from any system, however from the user viwpoint it was all Windows
email. The choice was a no-brainer - thanks to the guys at Microplex at that
time. OK, they said but how do we prevent students accessing 'bad sites', no
problem, I have already installed a proxy server and we can incorporate some
filtering in that as well.

And that was it for a year or two, but as opportunities arise we have
grabbed them. Some staff had seen a web based intranet system that was
accessible from home, but they knew we couldn't afford the $25,000 starting
price for the Citrix server, at the same time I stumbled on AUC - best thing
in schools since sliced bread. Gives teachers what they need, control over
their own resources, ability to distribute resources to students, ability to
communicate via email and discussion boards. If you only got this one app
into schools you would save them a fortune and do the staff and students a
great favour. I set that up on a 4GB HDD, now it is on 120GB HDD.

Academic reporting - how can we do this from home? OK, first system Access
database lots of floppies lots of lost data and mucho aggravation, current
system - web server (Apache), php pages and Postgres. Minimal stress, NO
lost data and authorisation to beef up the server to make it faster.
(Currently on a P11 166MHZ going to P4 1.6GHZ and from 64MB to 256MB).

The list is ever growing, but the secret is that I gave up pushing OSS or
Linux or denegrating MS, simply offered choices and realistic costings. Most
of my executive don't even know the term OSS or GPL or even Linux, they just
want the system to do the job that I say it will and within the budget I
aksed for.

We are currently with a very OSS and Linux savy ISP and life could not be
better, what I can't get done I pay them to do from the comfort of their
office, support is very fast as it doesn't really matter where in the world
they are - and that is an important point. Most Windows support is done
'on-site', most of my Linux support is done 'on-line' and I don't get
charged for travelling time.

BTW I have in the past given limited access to our Intranet to demonstrate
to other schools what we are doing, I would be prepared to do so in the
future, given suitable controls.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: slug-admin@xxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:slug-admin@xxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of
> Jeff Waugh
> Sent: Monday, 29 July 2002 5:07 PM
> To: mary@xxxxxxxxxxx
> Cc: Mail List - LINK; Mail List - SLUG
> Subject: Re: [LINK] Re: [SLUG] NSW DET to be urged to use OSS
>
>
> <quote who="jon@xxxxxxxxx">
>
> > Otherwise we'll get walked all over... Sure, you will get
> individual schools,
> > where the staff are Linux-aware, on-side (Orange High is one such)
>
> Mary - know anyone at Orange High?
>
> > but the majority will just toe the Departmental line
>
> Guess that's the primary target then; some grass-roots support from the
> schools would be helpful too. Does anyone know of other schools
> working with
> Free Software? Testimonials would be waaaay helpful, both in
> infrastructural
> and teaching areas.
>
> Thanks Jon, you can leave the sporting equipment at home for the
> moment. :-)
>
> - Jeff
>
> --
>                        'unf' is walking into a door.
>
>                      'untz' is walking into a drum kit.
>
> --
> SLUG - Sydney Linux User's Group - http://slug.org.au/
> More Info: http://lists.slug.org.au/listinfo/slug