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[News] Education Journal Makes Free Software Recommendations

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Don’t Worry, Be Scrappy: Good, Cheap Tech for Schools, Cloud Computing and More

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| For school systems struggling to pay their licensing fees for products like 
| Microsoft Office, free software suites like Open Office may soon become the 
| no-brainer replacement solution. Get to know your options. Likewise, in our 
| business, it may be time to start playing around with open-source library 
| systems so that you can steer that choice, if necessary. With an aging 
| library circ/cat system, an expired support contract, and no plan for a 
| replacement, I’m currently exploring several open-source ILS options, hoping 
| that I can be ready to suggest a low-cost or no-cost fit when the time comes. 
| For David Lininger, a secondary school librarian in Missouri, that time is 
| now. He’s already chosen the open-source favorite Koha as his next library 
| management suite. While the software is technically free, he’ll be spending 
| some of the software savings on one of the many Koha hosting providers out 
| there. That move will shift responsibility for things like records storage, 
| software upgrades, and backups off of his school system’s shrinking tech 
| staff and into “the cloud.” The cloud? Read on.              



2 Sore Feet, 200+ CDs, 400+ Teachers: BETT 2009

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| We had a couple of shiny new Samsung 2343BW widescreen monitors showing off
| Edubuntu/Ubuntu to full effect. There were a variety of sub-notebook class
| devices demonstrating various Free OSs and just what £99 can get you if you
| care to look.
| We discussed - sometimes at great length - philosophical, financial,
| technical, security and educational benefits that can be had from using FOSS
| solutions in an education context. (Why would anyone in their right mind use
| proprietary software if they had a choice or a clean sheet to start from?)
| We promoted and extolled the virtues of many individual FOSS projects
| including, Moodle, Elgg, Mahara, Ubuntu, Edubuntu, and countless others.


Last VLE ever?

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| BECTA..can you either quietly drop your sponsorship of VLEs or persuade your
| political masters to force teachers to use them?


Computing in Education and the Credit Crunch

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| You may have noticed that high quality free, open source software, free to
| download and legally distribute now exists for nearly all the applications
| commonly used in education. They work on Windows and Mac computers as well as
| they do on Linux computers.


UK schools chief begs for Home Access scheme cash

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| Schools minister Jim Knight, who was speaking at the opening of this year's
| Bett event at Olympia in London, said today that Microsoft has created
| something he described as a “re-investment fund”. The software maker
| will “commit to fund a foundation in support of the Home Access programme,”
| he said.
| However, Knight didn’t reveal how much cash Microsoft was pumping into the
| initiative, which has been periodically wheeled out by the Department for
| Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) for the past 12 months, perhaps in part
| to help resuscitate Gordon Brown's premiership.
| [...]
| However, this latest agreement with Microsoft to inject some money into the
| Home Access programme could ruffle some feathers, particularly among the open
| source community.
| The Microsoft-funded foundation will develop and implement a programme of
| training and support for teachers, parents, as well as to help
| create "awareness" for the Home Office programme, said Knight.


Ian Lynch's take on the BECTA fiasco

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| Fundamentally, I’m not complaining that we were not successful in the
| tender - I have no idea how strong the winning bid was. I’m complaining that
| the tender process adopted was broken. This is despite the fact that 130 MPs
| signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament last year censuring BECTA for
| procurement frameworks that block out Open Source.


Becta's Open Source Contract To Alpha Plus Outrages Other Bidders

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| Mark Tylor, the Chief Executive of Sirius, an enterprise support company, has
| written an open letter on the name of Becta, charging it of “cronyism”
| and “political sleaze”.
| Mark Tylor claims that the project cannot work out properly, as the
| consultancy that has been awarded with the contract is incapable of handling
| open source project.


Open Source UK attacks schools quango

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| The Schools Open Source Project had been intended to encourage the use of
| Open Source software in schools, for education and infrastructure, and it so
| far seems to have achieved the feat of uniting the Open Source community, but
| against it.
| Ross Gardler, who bid as part of the not-for-profit OSS-Watch, also raised
| questions about Becta's evaluation process: "Some of the marks on our
| [evaluation] sheet were indicated as having been modified during the
| moderation phase," he said.


Row erupts over schools open-source project

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| Taylor went on to urge schools to ignore Becta and the project, adding: "Any
| of the organisations Becta rejected will be your best choice". It also called
| for an open source industry boycott of the project, claiming the project
| was "about jobs for the boys, spin, and discrediting non-proprietary
| software".


The Groklaw effect hits Becta. And yes, I am coining a new term

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| Right now Becta ( [the UK agency that snubbed the free software
| community]http://www.freesoftwaremagazin[...]) ) is in the process of being
| Groklawed by the free software community. A source close to the events right
| now told me quite clearly that Freedom Of Information Act requests are
| hitting Becta in flurries. In this case, it wasn’t Groklaw that Groklawed
| Becta. Instead, it was The Register with their article on Becta.
| [...]
| Unlike the Slashdot effect, the Groklaw effect is much more dooming for the
| company receiving it. While the Slashdot effect eventually lessens, and your
| servers can finally stop working overtime, the Groklaw effect are
| longer-lasting, and in order to get it to stop you can either straightened
| your actions, or pay the dearest price for any illegal or unethical action
| you carried out.
| If you’re a blogger, I invite you to use this new term. SCO’s being
| Groklawed, OOXML’s been Groklawed, and so is Becta.


The OSC's open letter to Becta

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| If you are a school, ignore Becta's project, ignore Becta, and seek advice
| from the people who are able to give it. Any of the organisations Becta
| rejected will be your best choice.
| If you are a member of the Open Source community or industry not yet touched
| by this scandal, boycott the project and refuse to have anything to do with
| it. It's not about 'Open Source', it's about jobs for the boys, spin, and
| discrediting non-proprietary software.
| If you are anyone else, throw your hands up in despair at yet more political
| sleaze, cronyism and incompetence, and vote for someone other than the
| current government at the next election, preferably someone with policies on
| Open Source and Open Government.


The Case for Linux in the Classroom

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| Linux is the only OS designed and equipped with Education in mind. Edubuntu,
| a flavor of Linux, is designed with the classroom in mind. It comes
| preinstalled with education software and applications that suit students of
| all grade levels, and even has some handy applications for the teacher too.


BECTA Rubbishes Almost the Entire UK Open Source Industry

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| I've written a number of times about BECTA, charting its constant flip-flops
| on open source in schools – sometimes damning it, sometimes driving it. Like
| me, you've probably been increasingly confused about BECTA's real attitude to
| free software. Well, I think we know now, following the snubbing of all the
| most experienced UK open source players in the awarding of a major contract
| to promote open source in schools.    


A learning experience

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| The situation looked to have improved in early May when it was revealed that
| Becta had issued an invitation to tender for a project to set up and run an
| open source schools project.  
| As Glyn Moody reports, however, despite bids from the great and the good of
| open source in the UK (supported by the likes of Red Hat and Canonical) the
| contract was awarded to The AlphaPlus Consultancy, a company described as
| having “no known experience or track record in FOSS”.  


Becta schools deal stuns British open-istas

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| He claimed that the decision to snub bidders that included Red Hat-backed
| Sirius and Canonical-backed The Learning Machine exposed Becta’s open
| source “posturings” as a “sham”.  
| Becta, which in recent months has been a vocal critic of Microsoft’s
| monopolistic stranglehold on software, invited bidders to tender for
| its “Open Source Schools” project in May.  
| At the time it said: “Becta wishes to ensure that schools are aware of and
| can access the wide variety of open source software in the marketplace. To
| achieve this it recognises that they must be supported in its awareness,
| adoption, deployment, use and ongoing development.”  


Becta, open source and education: Too little, too late?

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| Slow adoption of open source and free software in UK schools can be
| attributed to the same kind of inertia that afflicts SMEs in the UK. It
| arises from a fear of the unknown, misapprehensions of the capabilities of
| the software, over-reliance on trusted suppliers, and general lack of
| awareness of the alternatives - but the major obstacle has been a lack of
| coordination, direction or understanding from the relevant authorities,
| exacerbated by a series of agreements with Microsoft at government level that
| have effectively tied the education system into Microsoft-only solutions.



Lawmaker blasts U.K. government on Microsoft policy

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| "A member of Parliament of the United Kingdom has launched a stinging
| attack on the U.K. government's IT strategy, saying that it has given
| Microsoft too much control.
| John Pugh, who is a member of Parliament, or MP, for Southport and a
| member of the Public Accounts Committee, was speaking in an
| adjournment debate on Tuesday that he had called. The aim of the
| debate, he said, was to explore the alternatives to using Microsoft
| software, including open source."
| [...]


Becta's schools software scheme reported to EC

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| An advisor to Becta, the education technology quango, has complained
| to the European Commission about its procurement process for firms
| to provide online learning platforms and content to British schools.


Becta under fire for procurement framework

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| Nineteen MPs have accused a government agency of restricting the
| procurement of software in schools.

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