First Education News

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    Why Open Source should be used in schools — the opportunities

    Raising Awareness for informational freedom vs. monopolies — The use of open source software makes a major contribution to media education (dealing with media). This includes raising awareness of the fact that nowadays most of my data belongs to only a handful of companies. Furthermore, it will show you the possibilities and alternatives that exist alongside the major providers of proprietary software.

    Freedom — This term is very broad and encompasses both the freedom from commercial interests and the distribution of software. This also includes the fact that most OSS is royalty-free. The use of OSS breaks dependencies on manufacturers, support contracts or security updates, which are only available for a surcharge. For example, LibreOffice ensures that I can continue to use and import documents from many commercial products (partly also export them).

    No license costs — Usually you don’t pay license costs for OSS. This can save a lot of money in the long term. Furthermore, teaching projects/methods that require expensive programs or their widespread installation can be realized with OSS alternatives. For financial reasons, these would often not be possible. For example, you don’t need to learn how to edit graphics with Adobe Photoshop.

    Security — The source code of OSS is freely accessible to everyone. Bugs are usually quickly fixed. It is therefore almost impossible to insert a back door. With (L)Unix systems there is a clear permission management. This further increases safety. Currently, there are quite few known viruses and malware for Linux operating systems.

    Greater understanding of how programs work — By giving students the opportunity to get to know other software in addition to the market-leading programs, they can gain a greater understanding of how they work, such as word processing or spreadsheets. Less “click-knowledge” is acquired, but students get a greater flexibility in dealing with unknown software.

    Equality — OSS makes a major contribution to equality between students. Anyone can download and distribute the software free of charge for most operating systems. There is no need to buy any particular software to use at home. Weaker financial families have no disadvantages.

    Values — The values behind the OSS movement fit in well with school and what it wants to convey. In concrete terms, I mean sharing (knowledge), working together, openness, transparency, free access to information. This practice and the culture of sharing and sharing promote competences that are ethically and socially important.

    Localization — OSS software is often available in the native language. This argument may not count so much in the western world, where most software is available in other languages besides English. In Asia or Africa, where there are many different languages, this is a great advantage. Although many people are able to speak English, there are many parts of the world where it is not spoken or understood.

    Administration — After several years of experience with OSS in the private and school environment, I can personally confirm that the administration of many computers with OSS is much easier and time-saving. The possibilities for automation are enormous. We also use Windows computers, but their maintenance and servicing is about 80% more expensive (in terms of time) than our Ubuntu computers.

    Old hardware can be used longer — an advantage that should not be underestimated, especially for schools. Most things that students learn at school from a computer and what they use it for do not require high system requirements. You can use an old computer equipped with a small SSD for many years to come. Furthermore you can buy used hardware very cheaply or you may also receive it as a donation. With OSS, which often requires less resources, you can use your hardware for a long time to come. For example, we still have computers in operation that have been in operation for almost 8–10 years.