[ubuntu-uk] Persuading a school to switch

Alistair Crust alistair at skegnessgrammar.org
Thu Mar 27 12:10:13 GMT 2008

On Thu, 2008-03-27 at 10:40 +0000, Andrew Oakley wrote:
> 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 
> switch.

Of course you can! its about convincing them that they CAN switch and it
WILL be easier to maintain and there IS cost effective commercial
support out there. They will not have to employ anyone else full time to
maintain it.

If they don't have the skills then they can get support at very little
cost. Far cheaper than using valuable teacher/teaching assistant time.

I am be installing setups similar to ours into our feeder primary
schools, support comes from myself and a ssh connection! and the beauty
is that I can do that, because I use linux, so I have more time than I
would have if I was having to re-install and reboot windows boxes
repetitively. This can also be done remotely by any commercial support
contract, again at little cost. Commercial companies want to make
profit, having things working so you don't have to ring tech support can
only be a good thing. Just look at Canonical Support pricing, no premium
rate numbers there! 

> 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.

This is true, I've found that the political reasons are an additional
barrier for adoption. Teachers don't like change, they stick to what
they're used to because they don't have the time to learn new things.
But this doesn't mean that linux is hard to use, its about proving that
they don't have to re-lean everything. If they can point and click and
read they're more than half way there.

Whenever I get a new laptop or repair a laptop the first thing I do is
either install ubuntu on it, or install Oo, Firefox, etc on it.

Our kids used to have copies of the openCD available in the library but
now I download the latest versions of the cross-platform oss titles and
burn them to cd.

> 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:
> http://www.lulu.com/content/690763
> 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

I'll second that ;)

Kind regards
Alistair Crust <alistair at skegnessgrammar.org>
Systems Administrator
Skegness Grammar School
Vernon Road
Tel: 01754610000

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