I once overheard a young teacher sneering at Open Source Software.
I was presenting the software we use in school, and in a low voice he described it to someone as “The poor man’s Microsoft.” I was surprised to hear this because previously I’d believed him to be IT savvy with potential, I was wrong.
Open source may be free to use, but to professionals, the geeks if you like, it’s the freedom that open source offers. And let’s not forget WordPress the open source foundation on which this site stands.
Unsurprisingly, I am a fan of open source and some years ago I introduced ‘OpenOffice’ to my school, this was in addition to Microsoft. Firstly, I was keen for the students to learn the concept of open source and secondly it provided unassuming office software that was simple to use and a step up from the primary school software ‘Textease Studio’.
Another open source program I introduced to my school was Paint.Net, I use it at home and wouldn’t be without; who needs Paint Shop Pro?
Ultimately, before they moved on to high school there was a need to introduce the older children to Microsoft . I wanted them to be not only familiar with Microsoft but to be ahead of the game and I was eager to show them that Microsoft Word wasn’t simply a word processor, it had a versatility that could be used creatively.
The students produced some fantastic leaflets and posters using a variety of 3D shapes as text boxes and used angles and images for impact. They had fun creating safe websites to use in-house and found it exciting to create links within images and personalise their own pages on the VLE.
The Legacy of Labour
A few years ago, most schools in the UK, encouraged initially by the then Labour government, went through a period of unnecessary spending on IT.
Much of the equipment purchased in schools, was used for a short time and when the novelty wore off they moved on to something new.
Schools soon saw the possibility of Nintendo DS for maths, a great idea, but one that was abandoned when batteries were found to be flat and chargers went missing. Voice recorders were soon forgotten about when they too were left uncharged and eventually unwanted.
Cameras and tablets also proved to be of little value when they remained uncharged, and in the case of some tablets, incompatible with school software.
I’m passionate about IT and passing this on to my students was an absolute pleasure, however, despite a variety of hardware that I enjoy using, I still haven’t found anything to beat the humble PC.