While taking part of the July 29th EdTech Weekly – a weekly discussion of the latest news and resources of interest to the EdTech Community – an article pertaining to the Batavia, IL school district was passed through the chat. It seems that the Batavia School district is suggesting that parents of high schoolers upgrade their home computers to Microsoft Office 2007. In a letter sent by the School Board, parents were told that the district is in the process of upgrading their computers to the 2007 Microsoft Office product and that high schoolers would be best served if their home computers were equipped with the same MS Office version. Specifically, the letter stated that:
“If students use an older version of Microsoft Office at home, it is usually possible to translate their projects back and forth between different versions of Microsoft Office,”the letter said. “However, this can be a tedious process, and information may not be always be translated properly.”
Fortunately, the parents in this case who do choose to upgrade may be spared the $499.99 retail price for Office 2007 by purchasing their software via a group discount through a partnership with Cooperative Purchasing Network of Illinois, Microsoft and Virginia-based CampusTech. According to the article referenced above, the cost through CampusTech will be somewhere around $84.85 – a hefty discount indeed! And it must be said that the conversion between Office 2007 and Office 2003 isn’t really that much of a hassle.

Shifting Towards Open Source?

As a technology educator, I actually like to see my students using the latest and greatest software available. The question becomes, however, when does open source software come into play as “total cost of ownership” begins to creep? Now I imagine that it will be some time before we see the next iteration of the MS Office suite. But might it be time for schools to look into alternative open source solutions for software that may not be considered among the killer apps for business use in order to free up money for other uses? (I’m thinking with my Title I hat on now… as funding in this area seems to dwindle yearly.)

There is at least one more reason to go open source. As a technology teacher, I could use one less set of software licenses to worry about! I’d be more than willing to use OpenOffice.org software in my lab to cover the basic word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation functions my students must perform. It’s a solution that’s fast approaching the public’s general purview anyway as Wal-Mart begins its sale of sub-$300.00 Everex IMPACT GC3502 desktop computers equipped with Windows Vista Home Basic and OpenOffice.org 2.2 installed on a system that includes a 1.5GHz VIA C7 CPU, 1GB of DDR-2 SDRAM, an 80GB hard drive, a DVD burner, and integrated graphics, as well as a keyboard, mouse, and speakers.

By the way, according to the Everex fact sheet on the GC3502, it uses the VIA C7–D processor - providing for very low power consumption, advanced security features, and 1.5GHz of performance configured in such a way that it might actually save up to $10 per month on electricity usage. Awe – Wal-Mart’s helping us stay green…

Understandably, the Everex desktop, while powerful enough to handle email, word processing, and most web-based applications, would not be able to handle the latest version of AutoDesk’s DesignKids. That’s ok. It doesn’t have to. It offers what most people out there want for a price they can afford. And I do sort of like where it’s pointing… towards greater convergence of open source software and corporate interests.

Technorati Tags: education opensource openoffice.org everex

Views: 30

Comment by Durff on July 30, 2007 at 1:27pm
Ah - Vista - there's your catch! I will not own anything with Vista if humanly possible. I think you can determine my attitude on that one. Give me Linux and let me download my own opensource software....life
could be so easy..............


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