Free Software triumphs in schools

It really does… if you give any credence to my survey of 31 ICT students in ‘Asperger’s Academy’. The survey came about because this is the time of year that they have to actually implement solutions as part of their ICT A...

Share

It really does… if you give any credence to my survey of 31 ICT students in ‘Asperger’s Academy’.

The survey came about because this is the time of year that they have to actually implement solutions as part of their ICT A level course-work and so ultimately select software that they can use at school and at home.

That’s the first part; the second part is that their project has to have a business plan … with costings.

Here are some qualitative conclusions from the first part:

1) Everyone in the three classes had heard of free, open source software and knew about Open Office as an alternative, free download, to MS Office.

2) Everyone knew about copyright protection but few knew about IP. They would happily use copyrighted images until challenged.

3) Nearly all students had used illegal file sharing for music downloads … but this was in the past, now were mostly happy to pay modest prices for legal downloads of music.

4) Most (75%) had a pathological aversion to paying for ‘desktop’ software. They exclusively used ‘free’ software, either stolen proprietary (i.e. someone else bought it and supplied license key), ‘cracked’ downloads, free open source software or Google Web Apps. Web apps were very popular, as was online storage.

5) In the emerging Smart Phone market no-one grumbled at paying a small amount for certain desirable ‘apps’.

6) FOSS desktop software actually chosen for use was: Inkscape, Joomla (on apache:php:mysql), Open Office and FreeMind (mind maps). No one wanted to use The Gimp when Photoshop was so easy to crack (apparently).

To summarise the above:

If it’s something they want, they will pay modest amounts gladly; if it’s something they need for work and it costs a bob or two they won’t pay. They know stealing is wrong and would rather not do it ... but the moral imperative is weak. They have no strong feelings about FOSS either way other than a vague good feeling that it is free and legal.

Finally to Part 2.

This involved the business side of it all. Here they were costing all aspects of the work including software: I had my work cut out here. Most of the students knew two things: businesses need to be legal and spending money is a darn sight easier than making money.

I was bombarded with requests for free, legitimate software solutions that would do the job. This meant in effect that every project used either FOSS or Google web Apps.

Draw your own conclusions from the above.

Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs