The following is a trackback response to a post Miguel Guhlin wrote on December 26th relating to open source and intellectual property issues, in part raised by his viewing of the excellent “Free Culture” web-presentation by Lawrence Lessig.
I am with you on wanting to support open source alternatives, Miguel, but I don’t think the rest of the world is ready to follow suit yet. I have an upcoming article in the January edition of School Library Journal which elaborates more on why I hold this position. I don’t even think a critical mass is ready yet. I am not sure what will push them over the “tipping point” to move in this direction, but whatever that might be I don’t think it will happen in the next 1-2 years.
I do think diversity in operating systems is a bonus rather than a curse, however, as long as developers and designers follow accepted web standards. (Sadly this is not always the case.) The spread of viruses on similar computer operating systems emphasizes this point. Microsoft’s imminent efforts to transition those currently running Win2000 and WinXP to “Windows Vista” is going to be very important to watch in the next year. Maybe more people can be encouraged to “leave the dark side” of the Windows OS and come over to an alternative, whether that be an open source one or a commercial one like the Macintosh OS. Certainly the popularity of the iPod has been a big plus for Apple helping encourage more “Mac switchers.” I am not sure what could be used to similarly encourage teachers to use Linux instead of Windows, except the EXPERIENCE of using it themselves in a technology workshop… but of course in a school district purchasing context the teachers are not the most important ones to convince (although ideally they should be)– I think the district administrators and the IT leaders are the cornerstones of that decision.
Most adults (digital immigrants) are too set in their ways to change easily when it comes to computer operating systems, however. I have seen this plenty of times with just Windows/Macintosh discussions, much less open source / Linux discussions. The financial aspects of this may eventually prove most persuasive to school boards, esp if the MIT laptop initiative is successful and broadly embraced by several or many other countries worldwide. As schools can increasingly provide equivalent computer functionalities most of their users enjoy on a daily basis with a free operating system (Linux), open source software options, and web-based tools (web 2.0 technologies), it will look increasingly irresponsible from a fiscal standpoint to continue to pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees to Redmond. This is probably Uncle Bill’s greatest fear. But I hope it will become a reality. I think we are already seeing major trends in that direction, but I don’t think most users or school district technology folks are sharing this vision yet. Along the lines of this discussion, I think school districts should be purchasing WEB-BASED digital curriculum instead of software programs that run on a particular OS. This makes the legislative banner of robust bandwidth for all school districts (but especially rural ones) all the more important to take up in the months and years to come.
Even if a critical mass of people embraced open source operating system and software alternatives tomorrow, however, the issues of IP and copyright remain. They are related but not exactly the same.
Remember to follow Wesley Fryer on Twitter (@wfryer), Facebook and Google+. Also "like" Wesley's Facebook pages for "Speed of Creativity Learning" and his eBook, "Playing with Media." Don't miss Wesley's latest technology integration project, "Mapping Media to the Common Core / Curriculum."
On this day..
- Dave Ramsey on Strengths, Jobs, Entrepreneurship, Lifelong Learning & Persistence - 2011
- Lessons Learned Videoconferencing on the BlueJeans Network (Dec 2011) - 2011
- Fuel for Educational Change Agents: A new, lightly-edited podcast channel - 2010
- Watching Live Bowl Games on MobiTV - 2010
- Praise for MobileRSS on the iPhone - 2009
- Toodledo: My quest for a web-based and iPhone friendly GTD organizer is over - 2008
- Upgrading multiple WordPress installations - 2007
- Empowering citizen journalists - 2006
- YouTube and Technological Anarchy - 2005
- Educational Banner Evangelism - 2005