Two recent posts in eSchool News have peeked my interest as to the feasibility and complexity of implementing open source software into the educational environment. The first, “Open source not quite the panacea, say three schools”, examines three schools that have deployed open source software and found mixed to poor results. One school, Pembina Trails School Division decided that after one-year, for a variety of reasons including support costs, they will migrate to a Windows-based system. In fact, “a Microsoft Canada Total Cost of Ownership analysis, based on Gartner methodology, found that Pembina Trails would save over $2 million per year in operating costs by moving to a unified Microsoft software platform with Active Directory”.
However, another article appearing just the next day, “Indiana paces school Linux use”, highlights an Indiana state initiative that hopes to empower every student with computer technology. “Using Linux-based systems will enable them to save what could amount to millions of dollars on operating systems and software. If successful, the state’s open-source initiative could serve as a model for other states or districts around the nation to follow”.
For those considering the open source movement, take a look at the Open Options website produced by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. It provides a thorough list of the pros and cons of implementing open source in your educational environment.
I look forward to your comments on what is working for your school and your thoughts on the open source movement. Does the cost justify the move or are there too many hurdles such as compatibility and support to overcome?