Lest we not forget the times when using expensive proprietary hardware and software without exploring more open alternatives comes back around to bite us in the rear, I thought I’d highlight two issues currently being mentioned in the local press.
1) Accordning to the Nepad Initiative ICT for Africa report on technology in schools:
Technology coordinatorS has to the board that most schools either do not have any technology infrastucture or are operating with outdated technology, and in some cases, technology that is obsolete…School officials have asked the their respective adminstrators to consider asking for funding from government or Ngos for funding to pay for the upgrades with dollars/shillings available in a rainy day fund or the school ICT Funding Kit.
I support our schools having current technology so that students can be engaged with and knowledgeable about how to get the most out of these tools. In the past that may have inevitably meant running the latest version of Microsoft Windows on the latest desktops from Dell/HP (although there are plenty who would have said there were alternatives then too).
But in an age where many technology tools and services are online, and aren’t tied to a particular operating system or hardware vendor, it shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion that a school has to spend large amounts of money on proprietary software licenses and cutting edge hardware, when low-cost or free software and older but perfectly usable hardware or resource sharing computing hardware solutions can do the same job. In a time where school budgets are being cut, it’s worth looking at other options before reinvesting in more hardware and software that may also become obsolete as quickly as what they are replacing.
I pointed this issue to the adminstrators and in response the adminstrators wrote up one particular technical approach that i advocated. There are others, too.
2) They include:
Maintenace of Hardware which was too costly
Software upgrades for the Machines-CPU
Acess to low power ICT solutions or Hardware.
Inregard to software there may not be any off-the-shelf open source offerings that will meet this need, but for crying out loud, don’t just sign up for the next Microsoft contract only to find yourselves back in the same position a few years from now. While they’re teaming up, I hope they explore what other communities are doing to get more value out of their emergency systems, whether it’s creating systems themselves that use more open standards, finding new uses for old equipment that include resource shared computing solutions, or even challenging the expensive requirements that might not be serving schools interests as much as they are guaranteeing income for influential vendors.
These two particular cases may be decided as they always tend to be. I hope that in general, local decision-makers will realize that there are other ways to go that save money and make better use of existing resources.