UK Schools ICT: Everything has changed

As an Open Source apologist, and an arch enemy of BECTA (who sold out just to get into a de-facto procurement cartel); a fighter of BSF stitch ups and trenchant deprecator of utterly non-transparent Local Authority-wide VLE and MIS deals, I should be pretty happy this week.

All of my ICT wish list has been granted.

No BECTA; no BSF; no QCDA; no GTC; fatally wounded LA's; cash-rich Academies; 50% of Gov contacts to be issued to SMEs; Open Source software longer deprecated.... one to tell schools what to do; no one to impose whole scale ICT solutions in the name of LA compatibility, no enforced outsourcing, no dodgy MOUs with Microsoft and the dead hand of assessment prised from around the schools' throats.

Freedom! Ah yes freedom, what a good thing it is.

Freedom, then what?

In the words of a famous football manager " It's deja vue all over again'

I'm sure I have seen this episode before in an early Start Trek where Jim and his crew land on a planet whose inhabitants are under the control of a giant central, long forgotten computer.

They had long since stopped thinking for themselves and 'enjoyed' a mindless slavery.

Very similar to our teachers today.

This situation of course did not last long once Jim arrived and the visiting crew of the Starship Enterprise soon wasted the computer and 'liberated' the population.

Then, as usual, the ship blasted off leaving the poor saps to work out what to do back on the planet now that they had no central control.

On planet England we have I think a similar situation. Our very own quangocidal leader has done a James T Kirk on education. (Micky was The Terminator last week and this week he is a Starship Captain..ok..he needs an image and I am trying to help here)

Our schools have been decapitated. They had been living in a Microsoft-centric time warp where the God Office was worshipped and it was cool to send e-mails by the thousand.

They were told what to think, what to teach lesson by lesson and what to buy by an Authority far greater than their own common sense.

What will become of these teachers as they emerge blinking into the light of the 21st Century? How will they respond. At first they will just stand and stare and od nothing and then...


Anarchy will rule (sorry that's an oxymoron but you know what I mean), these newly liberated folk will cast off their PCs just as the children did years ago, they will have cash in their pockets and lots of new shiny toys to buy just as it was twenty years ago at the dawn of the PC age.

What will they buy for schools?

Well I have just seen two devices, albeit for a v short time that made me pull up sharp.

One was the fairly conventional Nokia netbook, yes you get it, a netbook with integrated 3G and the other was the Dell Streak... the smaller smarter iPad that runs Android comes with a SIM and can do more than one thing at at time. Ah web=3G…took its time but it's here.

I was convinced.

These are the school devices we have been waiting for. The Streak has integrated 3G, front facing camera, Skype and so much more. Video lessons, personal tutoring, podcasts, e-books, it's all there out of the box.

And it runs on Android…so the open sourcers won in the end too.

So schools, spend your cash, ditch the networks, the PCs and those expensive technical staff, use your Academy windfall and your savings and go out and buy a load of Streaks.

Negotiate a whole school cell phone contract (add some filtering), buy exercise books and pens and paper and go online. Just like the past but with a modern twist. Gosh just how Micky described it before the election!.

Everything has changed, honestly it's going to be just like when we lugged our shiny PCs into school just to show the kids the future without mainframes.

Get ready. It'll be anarchy, and this ageing anarchist will be happy for one.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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