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Re: [school-discuss] my puzzle about OSS in education

Rob brings up a good point. The cost of Mavis Beacon and other proprietary software on every PC and at home means that the application is generally not available to all students neither in the home nor at home for most students. Further, we have found that a lot of students with new PCs at home have MS Office Basic Edition, which lacks Powerpoint. By switching to OSS and OpenOffice, all students will have the same software at home as at school, which means they can learn how to *use* the program out of school, and focus on how to develop content using the application in school. Instead of learning a skill in school (how to use a particular program), we hope they'll transition to learning how to organize, plan, and communicate effectively. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, metrics for these elements.

Speaking of which, we also want to try out OpenWorkbench, and the cost of MS Project certainly underscores Rob's point; we could never afford to put Project on all school PCs and most parents probably couldn't afford it either. Don't know how good this will be for elementary students, so is anyone aware of an OSS project/planning application for young people? Also, it doesn't seem to run in Linux (of all things!) Does anyone know of a Linux Project OSS application that they like?


At 12:54 PM 6/2/2005, you wrote:
Quoting Greg Farrell <erac_greg@xxxxxxxxx>:

Does anyone who's switched to OSS applications, like
the ones Marilyn's listed here, have any available
statistics that evaluate student's performance before
and after the switch?  What were the metrics used?

I'm trying to get a sense of learning content value,
so anything along these lines would be a help

Greg Farrell

The big question would be whether or not learning with computers helps. I don't see that there would necessarily be much difference between OSS and proprietary software in this area (do you actually learn significantly more or less by using the Gimp vs Photoshop? OpenOffice vs MS Office? TuxType vs Mavis Beacon?)

Where OSS might help is in affordability and manageability of computing. If the choice is Gimp vs something we can't afford, OpenOffice vs something we can't afford TuxType vs something we can't afford the equation changes. Plus with OSS you can give the students the applications you are teaching with. What are the benefits in giving the students the software to use at home?

Try flipping the question: what are the real advantages of using proprietary software?

Rob Rittenhouse

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