A theme of mine for a decade has been using IT more fully in education to make education more effective and efficient. Big points in the list include:
- using FLOSS and GNU/Linux on desktops,
- using thin clients,
- using servers,
- in-school databases and web applications to bring the strengths of the web to a school without clogging the connection to the Internet, and
- judging all purchases and acquisitions by price/performance.
According to IDC, some of these points are connecting in Australia where, “The Education sector contributes 5.9% of ICT spending in the total Australia market, representing $2,782.2 million in 2012. IDC expects ICT spending within the education sector will grow to $3,162.4 million by 2015, or 2.1% (CAGR) between 2010 and 2015. In 2011 hardware continues to account for the majority of education sector spending (41.7%).
Additional survey results show that the top three organisational priorities within the Education sector are: migrating to new hardware/software platforms, aligning IT/IS with business direction and developing effective business cases for IT investment. These priorities reflect the focus across the sector on putting the right infrastructure and platforms in place to deliver a new kind of reality in the delivery of education.”
It’s all good. As long as they look at price/performance, a lot of good things will happen in education there. I have been in schools that did not even have a server on the LAN let alone realize what a server could do for them. Indexed collections of documents, good web applications to accept and to maintain collections of knowledge, lessons, data, and leveraging the same characteristics that make FaceBook popular on the web to education are too important to miss. Rather than have everything in the cloud accessed by expensive Internet connections, it makes sense to have one or more servers in a school to give those benefits locally. The cross-fertilization that takes place in an academic community is priceless when everyone contributes and is valued for their contributions.
I recommend Debian GNU/Linux for the infrastructure of IT in schools. Debian’s first priority is to provide software that works well. There is no profit motive or desire to lock-in to interfere with educational objectives. It’s all about IT that works.