Salon asks if Microsoft's rigourous enforcement of software
licenses in public schools will have an unintended consequence by
forcing educators to consider the open source and Free Software
alternatives available to them.
"...San Jose's Mike Beever, for example, started
considering open-source alternatives after his brush with the BSA.
Open-source software is software for which the underlying source
code is made freely available to the general public. There are no
restrictions on copying, modification or even resale. Over the last
five years, free and open-source software has proliferated on the
Web and teachers all over the world are paying attention.
Especially in the arena of productivity applications, today's
current state-of-the-art free software programs are not yet a
slam-dunk alternative to commercially available offerings. But the
gap is narrowing, says Columbia's McClintock. Teachers can now find
free software that will help students draw geometrically correct
formulas or molecular structures, or programs capable of mapping
local crime patterns and pulling out trends. They can also create
free virtual classrooms, or augment traditional classes with
network applications like the University of Texas' LinguaMOO.
One ambitious group of educators has even launched a Web site
called OpenSourceSchools.org that aims to act as a school
technology warehouse -- a place with "all the basic pieces, and the
help necessary, for an open source tech program." A Web server,
network tools, mail, bulletin boards, course building systems,
library system and school database system will all be offered as of
October, says co-founder David Bucknell."