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Re: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fwd: [Fsfe-uk] Hello]
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 16:41:25 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.3.27i

On Wed, Apr 24, 2002 at 03:22:55PM +0100, Chris Puttick wrote:
> Cost-based arguments are the ones that will be effective in education. 

It depends really what you're trying to argue. If you're just trying to get
people to switch platform, then yes, cost is a good argument. I'm not sure
that GNU/Linux solutions currently win the cost argument - if you factor
cost over a fair time period then perhaps they do, but over the one/two/five
year periods the difference doesn't always appear to be massive (taking into
account training, and more especially support). 

There is another argument, and that is that people will want to learn these
technologies, so places of learning should make them available. I think this
is the stronger argument. If people want to train for office ICT skills,
that (at the moment) means Word + Excel, possibly + Access and/or +VB on
advanced courses. But, if they want to learn programming skills, web design
skills, local networking / sytem admin skills, there's a lot more room to
say that these should be done on Free Software platforms. 

Many areas of education, outside of the school->a level college->university
line, tend to be affected very much by local business. They offer courses in
the skills that local businesses require, and that are popular nationally.
Looked at this way, ICT is essentially a vocational area, not an academic
one. And that's part of the trouble: currently, "Free Software" skills are
just not in demand. So, the easiest areas of attack are the less vocational
ones (C programming, for example), or "hobbyist" / extra-curricular areas.

> StarOffice will be free to education, and is becoming costed to persuade
> companies to use it.

I wasn't aware it was going to be free for education - where did you get
that information from? From what I read at the time, it was being costed to
add value to Solaris, not as an actual revenue generation device.

> licences. And it is not something you want to start explaining to educators
> - most of them are there to teach, not learn (excuse my cynicism).

I actually pretty much agree with you. I think schools and colleges will be
the last to move over to new technologies - the two ways into education (I'm
not really talking about infrastructure here, you might be, so we might be
slightly at cross purposes ;) would be to either generate demand for these
skills (or show that these skills will generate demand in the future), or to
get it in through the non-vocational, more adventurous areas.



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