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Education GUI KDE Linux

A Year of Linux Desktop At Westcliff High School 283

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the freedom-for-all dept.
jrepin writes "Around a year ago, a school in the southeast of England, Westcliff High School for Girls Academy (WHSG), began switching its student-facing computers to Linux, with KDE providing the desktop software. The school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore, contacted us at the time. Now, a year on, he got in touch again to let us know how he and the students find life in a world without Windows." And they didn't even meet much resistance: "Younger students accept it as normal. Older students can be a little less flexible. There are still a few that are of the view that I can get rid of Microsoft Word when I can pry it from them. Staff are the same (although it is surprisingly not age-related). Some are OK and some hate it. Having said that, an equal number hate Windows 7 and nobody liked Windows 8. I think the basic problem is that Windows XP is a victim of its own success. It works fairly well from a user point of view, it's been around practically forever, and people don't like change, even some students, oddly."
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A Year of Linux Desktop At Westcliff High School

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:34PM (#44437353)

    One of the reasons we see so much Windows in education is that its cheaper than Linux. Microsoft gives out free software and hardware deals to schools as "donations". At my University, our CSE department had clearly been supplied with a lot of Windows stuff (I got 3 free Windows licences, and lots of other stuff as a student, I suspect the Labs got similar offers). The ratio of Windows to Linux machines was higher than most of the students wanted (It was often hard to find open Linux machines).

    My High-school got all its computers replaced through some deal with Microsoft while I was there, and they were all Windows.

    Microsoft makes large investments in getting its products into education so people get used to them. The people who resist change will then be stuck with them and but it in the future.

    I assume this kind of thing is not the case everywhere, but their efforts seems to be keeping Windows as the standard OS in education. I'm really happy to see people working (and succeeding) at escaping this.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @12:46PM (#44437511)

    I used a typewriter in high school.

    on the side, a teacher and some of us students formed a computer club and bought a TRS-80 so we could do Z80 assembly.

    Since then I've used various document creating softwares on CDC Cyber, Vax, Unix, OS/2, Novell, Windows, Linux,

    so the answer to your question is "hell no, what's the point"

  • by DutchUncle (826473) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:03PM (#44437731)
    Easy to say discard compatibility; except that means EVERYTHING has to become compatible with this NEW system. All you're doing is trading one compatibility for another. Plus people already have older PCs with an installed ecosystem of programs.
  • by flimflammer (956759) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @01:50PM (#44438407)

    I haven't heard the typical result for Windows 7 being "meh"

    In terms of ordinary end users, Windows 7 has surpassed Windows XP for quite a while now. The business world is another story.

  • by dandelionblue (2757475) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @02:57PM (#44439315)

    I actually went to this school when I was younger (so I was pretty surprised to see it appear on Slashdot!), and was very interested in this article because when I was there, we were given a very good IT education - in MS Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint and Frontpage (plus, er, PageMaker).

    Anyway, I think there are a few reasons why this userbase might adapt to Linux better than a random selection of people:
    1. Their age - while a lot of older people are extremely reluctant to just try something on a computer, for fear of breaking it, people who've grown up with computers as the norm aren't so worried about that. So I think they're less likely to be intimidated by a new interface, and more likely to engage with customising it.

    1a. You would also probably get less resistance from them than from a worker who's been using MS Office every single day for the past 20 years and is extremely familiar with it and therefore works very, very quickly. Swapping their software over will result in an immediate productivity drop and could cost a company money. Swapping a 12-year-old's software over is a minor annoyance.

    2. It's a science and engineering school, so a number of the girls who have chosen to go there will have a bigger interest in technology than the average population of the area. (There are other schools of a similar academic standard locally with different specialisms and this does guide some students' school preferences.)

    3. The school is academically selective, so you have a better chance of being able to teach the students how to adapt to different systems (swapping between Linux and Windows when a workplace requires it, for example). In an average population you will confuse a lot of people just because the blue "e" they click to go on the Internet has disappeared.

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