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Re: [K12OSN] Re: Schools and the OPM Addiction

Jim Kronebusch wrote:
On Sat, 01 Dec 2007 12:07:19 -1000, R. Scott Belford wrote
I fear that far too often good-willed and well-intending education 
advocates fail to fully understand the extent of OPM addiction in the 
American education system.  More successful advocates have learned to 
enable the use of OPM within the schools.  They fund this addiction with 
enticing technology trinkets and strong-armed contractual agreements.

Funny, but sadly true.  I find that like with any addiction, the problem starts with the
dealers.  They make this stuff sound too fun to not try.  A quick example of how this
hurts schools.

We just had 3M give the school a grant to buy some technology.  The teachers involved
went to a seminar about cool new products in schools.  The teachers decided the best way
the money could be spent is with EBeam projection systems.  They thought this could be
as useful as SMART Boards but for a third of the cost.  They ordered them.  The teachers
use OSX as their operating system this year.  As part of my schools second wave of Linux
integration we were going to move all teachers to Linux next year.  EBeam is OSX/Windows
only.  So now thanks to this grant (OPM), and the flashy presentation by the dealers, we
now have a huge obstacle to overcome with making these EBeam systems useful while still
trying to switch to Linux.  So our $5,000 grant (OPM) is putting our $60,000 savings and
all the other benefits of switching to Linux in jeopardy. 
Yep, that's OPM, all right.  Throw away $60,000 to get $5,000.  That's because, for all their degrees and other pedigrees that they wear so prominently on their sleeves, educators are politicians long before they are ever businesspeople.

Other cases are where the dealers of the OPM provide the stuff the first time for free,
but in doing so give us new addictions that we cannot afford.  Sure we get new
projectors, but can't afford to replace the bulbs or the system when it fails.  We get
software, but can't afford the upgrade cycle.  This list could go on.

We call that "lock-in."

Used wisely, there is no problem with OPM.  However I believe the dealers are the first
in the chain who need to wise up, then the users will follow.

Now, there's where I disagree.  The dealers are already "wised-up."  That's why they're doing what they're doing.  It is the *USER* of the OPM that needs to wise up and tell the dealer to go jump in the ocean.  Sadly, the only thing that gets the vast majority of addicts to kick the habit is some major tragedy.  It happened in Portland Public Schools in Oregon (the massive Microsoft audit threat).  It happened to a major bottling company in Texas (do a Google search for "Chuck E. Owens").  It happened to Ernie Ball, Inc.

In the case of Portland Public Schools, it's obvious that their pilot of GNU/Linux was a major part of why they were threatened.  "Keep the user addicted at all costs," whether via carrot...or stick, if necessary.


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