Throwing in the towel

It’s been coming, and I’ve been dreading it. Now that it’s here, I’m just glad to have it over with.

I’ve been working for years to expand the use of free and open source software in my school and amongst our teachers and students. We started with OpenOffice, which did away with problems we had with different versions of Microsoft Office. Then we started using other free systems such as Zimbra for our mail & collaboration software, the GIMP for photo editing, Moodle for our virtual learning environment, Firefox for web browsing, etc. We had some students test out Ubuntu as a computer operating system and the response was positive, so we rolled it out as a system for all our students.

There were problems, but there were also successes. Students learned new skills, became adept at working with different systems, took delight in hacking their computers, etc. They shared the software with family and friends, and found workarounds to issues they faced.

But things change. We’ve got a 20% turnover rate here, and all our administrators and most of our teachers have only joined us in the past couple of years. They got frustrated when software wouldn’t install with ease on Ubuntu. They resisted using LibreOffice and complained about compatibility with their Microsoft software. They asked why we didn’t just spend the money to buy the software that they were used to and get in line with what most people use.

So we’ve decided to move back and restrict choices. We’ll all be using Microsoft Office. We can choose between Windows 8.1 or OSX 10.10. I’ll go back to using a Mac (I’ll still keep an Ubuntu system running on it as well).

I’m working on being upbeat and positive about the move. It will make many things simpler. It will reduce some of the friction in classrooms and in school.

But it sometimes feels like I’m in this cartoon:

©Dan Piraro - Bizarro! comics
©2009 Dan Piraro: Bizarro! comics (Used with permission. Thanks, Dan & Christy!)