[K12OSN] Re: Schools and the OPM Addiction

"Terrell Prudé Jr." microman at cmosnetworks.com
Mon Dec 3 15:32:45 UTC 2007

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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