UK Schools forced to go open source

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Exams are a changing

By 2010 all of the UK ICT school syllabuses will have been launched with a new contemporary look. Without giving away any state or commercial secrets, expect to see a lot less of the Examination Boards' traditional emphasis on Office software and much more diversity into web, graphics, sound and movie software-related activities.

Don't however expect cash-strapped schools to go out en-masse and buy Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Mac Garage for all and sundry.

However... luckily for the brave-new-syllabus-world of 2010 all software bases are covered by free, open source software which works on Windows as well as Mac and Linux. What luck.

Open Source Software Support

The UK Government now endorses suppliers of Open Source software through their accreditation schemes (OGC-Becta) in the same way it did the proprietary vendors. So it's now really easy to get the stuff and someone reputable to support it.

Conclusions

There will be two big drivers that force schools to adopt accredited open source software at an unprecedented level.

1) Syllabus Change, this in the past would have required expensive proprietary software (which of course now cannot be afforded) but equivalents are however available free as open source software.

Risk Mitigation. For example when investing in a Learning Platform or proprietary network management software. Where will you stand when your choice of vendor goes bust during a recession? Did you get the source code when you bought it? Thought not.

But...If you had chosen an Open Source solution then if your supplier went bust then someone else can simply step into the breach. Or, even, you could do it yourself. Open Source Software such as Moodle belongs to no one person or company. It belongs to the community of developers and users and as such can be picked up and taken on by anyone.

This completely reduces your exposure. In risky, cash-strapped times it is a brave school or Local Authority that takes a chance on getting locked into a soon-to-be-no-more proprietary solution vendor.

Surely even if the little proprietary fish die off the biggest fish of all will still be there to support its millions of lines of secret code..won't it?

Can you afford to take the chance?

PS. I should have expanded on the title of this post and said, 'logic and caution will 'force' schools to go Open Source software' but it's not so catchy.

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