Schools in Estonia's capital Tallinn are piloting a new program, slowly moving to PC workstations running on free and open source software. Students, teachers, school administration and kindergartens’ staff members are now using LibreOffice, Ubuntu-Linux and other open source tools, saving millions of dollars on software fees while educating students to manage open resources.
As computers have become ubiquitous, schools are basically forced to incorporate computers in the educational process. But buying a computer for a school isn't as easy as simply buying a computer - you have to buy useful, licensed software through public auctions, and that often costs a lot of money. Furthermore, this teaches kids to be reliant on some software which they may not have access to at home, at it may hinder their development.
By September 2015, the Tallinn Education Board had implemented Ubuntu-Linux (open-source operating system) on 4000 of the in total 6000 workstations and laptops that it manages across the 50 schools in the city. Most of these hosts are dual boot, allowing computers to switch between Linux and Windows or other alternatives. For editing documents, they're using LibreOffice.
“LibreOffice is used daily in most schools and kindergartens”, says Kätlin Kalde, one of the education board members. However, a few schools, struggling with the change, purchased licences for proprietary office suites. Interoperability problems and restance to change caused a few teachers and head masters to protest, however, meeting at the end of the pilot all schools decided to continue.
The city is getting support from Alvatal (Avatud Lähtekoodiga ja Vaba Tarkvara Liit) the Estonian Free and Open-Source Software Association. They're constantly making improvements and tweaks to the available software, especially focusing on increasing battery life.
So far, the project has been receiving excellent feedback, and if everything continues the same way, the plan is to expand the program for schools in other cities. [via JoinUp]