[ubuntu-uk] Persuading a school to switch

Andrew Oakley andrew at aoakley.com
Thu Mar 27 10:40:29 GMT 2008

Stephen O'Neill wrote:
> | so why would it hire a network admin who can't run the software on its
> I hear that a number of network admins are teachers that fell into the
> role part time through a coincidence of knowing how to use a computer,

Absolutely right. Most schools can only afford to pay teachers and 
teaching assistants, they cannot afford to pay the proper rate for a 
separate network engineer. Whichever teacher or teaching assistant has 
the best technical skills will be assigned the role of sysadmin.

My mother, a primary school maths teacher, was "Technology co-ordinator" 
for the whole of Shropshire Local Education Authority, on the grounds 
that she knew how to set the timer on the video cassette recorder. 
Everything she did with computers was based on learning, parrot-fashion, 
a fixed sequence of steps - she never "understood computers", she just 
prepared several lists of bullet points and worked off those.

Basically, for all but the largest schools, there is NO in-house 
computer technician. Schools recognise this, and plan their computing 
facilities around "whichever is supported by the county council" and not 
"whichever is best for the children".

Unless there is ALREADY a Linux geek within the ranks of the teachers 
and teaching assistants, you stand NO CHANCE of persuading a school to 

The focus, then, should be on persuading individual influential teaching 
staff to switch. From a teacher's or student's point of view, the most 
important program is the wordprocessor.

I recommend starting with OpenOffice Writer and working from there.

The best way to persuade someone to switch to OpenOffice is to buy them 
this physically-printed book for less than 15 quid inc. delivery:


A truly fabulous book which will allow any Microsoft Word addict to 
easily and painlessly ditch their affliction, and to become confident 
that they can continue doing all manner of simple or advanced 
wordprocessing tasks without needing anything from Microsoft.

Donate one copy to your local school technology officer, and if you can 
spare more, donate extra copies to your local school library.

Andrew Oakley

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