To be blunt, no one wants computer labs, netbook carts anymore. They'd rather have an iPad. That's not to say other technologies aren't necessary, useful, worth having. Only that they are a solution to yesterday's computing problems. New problems, new solutions. You know...you don't pour new wine into old wineskins.
Let me be up front about a few things:
- I automatically load GNU/Linux on all my laptops, desktops, netbooks. If it doesn't have Linux on it, then it soon will have. When friends bring me their computer and complain that it has a problem, I load Linux on it to give them an oasis of stability.
- Linux is a great, no cost operating system with a suite of phenomenal software maintained by a global community of developers and supporters.
- I love Android and the Nexus 7 is a wonderful tablet, albeit no where near as robust as the iPad or iPad Mini. Given the choice between an Android and an iPad, I'd recommend iPad because it enables you to do more. For schools, it's a no-brainer.
- Although Apple, Microsoft, Google will undoubtedly sell you down the river because they want you to buy their product or what they're selling, the Linux community will continue to innovate because they enjoy a level of freedom.
That said, Linux on the Desktops of school computers is a solution that's come too late. Yes, I know that Linux can save districts millions of dollars. You may remember, I wrote about that here, Unicorns, iPads and Mystical Math. I'll save you the long read, here's the short version:
Scenario #1 - Total iPad Cost: $13,000,340.00Scenario #2 - Total Computer+Netbook Cost with Windows: $8,965,750.00Scenario #3 - Total Computer+Netbook Cost with Linux: $7,663,750.00
Yep, that's right...Scenario #3 involves using Linux on Netbooks and costs $7.7 million. Other solutions cost a lot more.
The problem is that while Linux has compelling numbers, it's too late. When Wes asked me if I knew about Ubermix (yes, I know about it...read this, this and this), the answer was, "Of course." But the real answer was, "Yes, I know about it, I know how successful it is, but give a kid an iPad, and he's can create more, collaborate more, do more--think video, audio,etc.--with an iPad than an Ubermix netbook." At this moment in time, the iPad trumps the Chromebook, the netbook (which are dead anyways since they aren't being manufactured anymore). I like the way this author put it:
One should always use the best tool for the task at hand.Our tasks, in terms of computing needs, however, have changed. Legacy application suites are getting replaced by a seemingly never-ending stream of smartphone and tablet applications. Cloud services for productivity and storage are the new Microsoft Office and hard drive. Touch computing is becoming the norm, not the exception, and mobile operating systems are optimized for it. Simply put: Netbooks are just another example of old-school computing, and world is moving on. Farewell, netbooks; it was fun while it lasted.
Ubermix is a great solution...but we don't do computing that way as much anymore. And, if you do, you are part of a club that may be shrinking, at least, in K-12 education. Linux remains the solution that never took off except in special cases (e.g. Indiana, SUSD, and lots of other places who had tinkerers).
Please, don't forget...Linux is the last bastion of freedom. I say that as I type this blog entry on a laptop with Lubuntu on it, where I do some of my work when at home. Richard Stallman, as eccentric as he is, has a valid point:
"Any government that tells people to teach proprietary software is essentially delivering the country into the hands of a company."
The choices are bleak--Apple which makes you pay for everything, Microsoft which tries to lock you in to recurring license agreements, and Google which gives and takes without regard to your needs.
The only sane choice IS Linux.
The only sane choice IS Linux.
But we're only human, aren't we?
Other stuff worth reading in this vein:
- The March of the Penguins on the Student Desktop
- Linux in Texas Schools
- The Mark of the Apple iPad
- Sabrina Joy Stevens Writes it So I Don't Have To
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure