I was talking with one of my colleagues about her educational perspectives class as I’m going to be sharing with them next week. It seems to me that technology and providing access to technology is a way to open up doors and opportunities to people. The critical thing is that as educators, we must change our perspective regarding the types of tools that we are using. For instance, there is quite a movement underway right now in the whole arena of digital storytelling. Much of this centers around the use of, you guess it, Apple products. It’s brilliant really…Apple has repositioned itself and people are flocking to iLife as the solution for communicating and presenting video, images, and sounds. Now, I can’t talk much as I have an iBook and love using the Mac OS, yet I think we need to step back a bit for the sake of those who can’t afford the premium that Apple charges to play.
So what am I talking about? Things like Linux and Open Office. Really geeky things that could serve to empower those with old PCs laying around their school. For those with the cash to pay for a Microsoft Campus Agreement, life is good. You get Windows and Office on any organizational computer. However, what do you do if your are a struggling district that has just slashed all of your art and music departments to pay the bills? This is where open source steps in. Installing an operating system like Edubuntu enables anyone with an older PC (500 MHz processor & 128MB of RAM) to install a reasonably secure, virus and spyware free, visually appealing, and functional operating system complete with an office suite and other educational software.
This is the new perspective that I think educators need to hear about. Very few people know about the opportunities that open source software holds. What do you think? How are you using open solutions in education?