Open Source CAN work in an education environment! Check this out…

In an article, “NZ school ditches Microsoft and goes totally open source,” we see how a High School in Auckland is using an open-source infrastructure to their advantage.  This is really an inspirational tale as it deals with some of the problems that people site about using Gnu/Linux as an infrastructure.  Here are a few things that stand out to me:

1. The school system is very pro-Microsoft.  In fact, the government has a deal where schools have to pay for Microsoft licenses whether they use them or not.

2.  They set the system up about a year ago and have had to do very little to maintain it.  (I’ve had similar experience with working Linux configurations that I have done.)

3.  They have used a “hostile network” approach to security which encourages people to bring in whatever devices they choose and be able to hook it to the network and get things done.  This has brought devices such as PSPs into the system.  (Think that’s not a business-like way to think about teaching kids technology?  How long ago was it when you thought your mobile phone was for making phone calls?)

It looks as though they took the most basic building blocks for a technical infrastructure and used open, reliable technologies to get them done.  What will the kids get from this?  The will see that technology is a “yes, and” world where things have to connect and you may need to deal with requirements that weren’t considered at the time of design.  They’ll have a shot at moving beyond the idea that technology is a short list of tools that you need to know and maybe put some really creative approaches to work.  The faculty at this school really seem to get it.  I hope that people will pay attention to this and follow their lead.

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