Discussion of the free (no cost) aspect of Open Source is mostly  
around saving dollars for school budgets by supplanting proprietary,  
for-fee software.  While saving $500 - $50,000 is important in this  
time of plummeting budgets, we rarely discuss the other, more  
important value of Free software - closing the Digital Divide.  Don  
Davis put together a nice video ( 
  ) about it.  {The content is good - the compression is grim}

Until we can guarantee that each student has access to the software,  
can we (techs, teachers) fully integrate it into our curricular  
world?  Since we can give away OpenOffice to every student (and  
provide refurbished Linux computers to any family without a computer),  
moving to a Open Office solution district wide would be a significant  
step to helping close the Divide.  We have to deal with the conversion  
costs and PD funds moving from 2003 -> 2007 anyway so spend the money  
on making the switch to a more equitable solution.  Shouldn't we be  
training them on software they can share with their 21st century  
skilled, project-based, internationally focused teammates?

Are there school systems in VT that promise to buy a copy of MS Office  
for every student that needs it?  Perhaps there are but I haven't  
heard of many.

Bryant Patten
Technology Consultant
Orange East Supervisory Union

On Dec 9, 2009, at 10:59 AM, Bob Wickberg wrote:

> It's only $5 a year if you use the license for 10 years, and only  
> upgrade
> when support ends for the previous version.  Who does that?  If you  
> buy
> new licenses every time a new version is released, it's more like  
> $15-$20.
> Still a bargain, I suppose, but with 1100 computers on our campus,  
> that's
> over $20k/yr.
> ...
> Bob Wickberg
> Technology Coordinator
> Brattleboro Union High School District # 6
> 802-451-3418
> School Information Technology Discussion <[log in to unmask]>  
> writes:
>> OO isnt the only option ZoHo, Abiword and Gnumeric.
>> Microsoft Office @ $50 each over 10 years of mainstream support, the
>> costs
>> are miniscule compared to other costs to educate students. (I don't  
>> mean
>> that
>> negatively, I mean it's a bargain).
>> Seems odd to me that given the salary/benefit costs of any given
>> employee,
>> one would even think of quibling over $5/year for office software ...
>> There are hidden costs using OO, the first time that there is a issue
>> with
>> conversion, and that file doesnt quite look right, how much payroll  
>> are
>> you
>> going to burn through to get it resolved, how much payroll to get  
>> clipart
>> 'good
>> enough' or rejigger your lesson plans ...
>> However, if OO provides some competition and MSFT therefore makes a
>> better
>> product or sells it to us cheaper, so be it.
>> R.