With any project such as this, parental support and participation is essential and I am happy to report that the school had a big roll up to our information evening, where staff spoke to Year 5 and 6 parents about the pilot IT project. We told them about developments in the Federal Government's Digital Education Revolution plan and how it would eventually impact on primary schools. Our plan for a managed wireless network in the school and the environmental benefits of using digital content in the classroom in reducing the school's carbon footprint. He then went on to speak about the origins of Open Source software and the benefits to the school community of embracing the use of it. My role was to introduce the operating system, Ubuntu and the particular distribution we are intending to use which is called Edubuntu which comes bundled with applications suitable for educational purposes. I wanted to reassure parents that the operating system uses a graphical user interface that children and parents would quickly become familiar with. I then went on to show them Open Office which is a free alternative and powerful office software suite.
We collected parent questionnaires at the end of the meeting in order to gauge parent views about what parents would like to see come from the pilot and I will spend some time next week reading through them. I do feel that the response was quite positive. We had one dissenter who challenged the whole notion of using computers in schools, but generally the response was quite positive.
This week for your homework boys and girls, I would like you to visit the Open Office website and download and install a copy to try. You can choose to save any word processing documents as .doc if you are worried about other people not being able to open and read the documents you create. I would be very interested in your feedback about it.