Open source question for schools

Looking around the British Education Training and Technology show, BETT 2009, it was clear by the sheer size of the event, that an awful lot of money is being spent on technology in education. With Open Source Software (OSS) freely available, covering almost every requirement in the national curriculum, a question has to be asked why schools do not back it more fully, possibly saving millions of pounds, reports BBC News. As the name suggests, OSS is community-driven software with its source code open to all. Anyone can modify the software according to their needs and then share these modifications with everyone else. When many people hear OSS they think Linux – the alternative operating system that comes in many flavors such as Ubuntu, openSUSE or Fedora. Linux has long been used to power servers, but open source extends to all manner of projects. Web browser Firefox and the OpenOffice software suite are great examples of this. In the education sector, OSS is promoted and used by only a handful of self-motivated technologists looking to stretch their technology budget. Critics say Becta – the government agency that oversees the procurement of all technology for schools – has not done enough to promote OSS. Peter Hughes, head of procurement agreements at Becta, told the BBC that more would be done…

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