Hardware and Software inventory in your primary school

Performing a hardware and software in your school can be a long, boring & time consuming task. Well not any more! Primary Technology have released publicly our web2 application which is incredibly easy to install and gives you real time information on what software is installed.

Included in the tool is a Becta recommend minimum requirements comparison tool which allows you to see which machines you may need to replace in the next 12/24 months.
Screen shots:
Hardware inventory
Software inventory

To access the Inventory tool visit the Primary Technology Control Panel

Review of Sugar (SOAS) Operating System

What is Sugar?
SOAS (Sugar on a stick) is the free easily accessible Operating System by Sugar Labs which is being used for the One Laptop Per Child initiative. SOAS is free under LGPL & GPL license. SOAS is downloadable from http://www.sugarlabs.org/

What have Sugar labs tried to do when creating sugar OS?
Simply put, create an operating system for learning. This may or may not be the correct way to introduce a child to computing. I cannot be the descision maker of that due to my lack of experience but I can give you an insight into the performance from a usability point of view.

The (Home page) for a pupil

How smooth is the OS?
Very smooth, everything is pretty obvious, within a few seconds you are up and running, browsing and/or learning. Websites such as Primary Games Arena (Flash) and School Email (Microsoft Exchange OWA) work great. The browser home page is a bit boring and maybe Primary School Safe Search should be used as an alternative.
Changing from one application to another is seamless, although you can’t keep many applications open. I couldn’t find the option to shut down, I guess it was hidden..
Come on John, you can’t convince us that an OS on 256 MB or ram runs “smooth”!
I didn’t think it would myself but it does, mostly due to the fact its a clean boot up every time and there is no ability to store lots of stuff in swap space to slow things down!
It can’t be all gravy and chips!
I found the scroll bars a little too small for young kids and I worry about the black and whiteness of the GUI. It’s clean but is that what kids want? From experience, no..
An activity.
Structured Learning..
One thing the Sugar OS tries to do and I’m not convinced that is succeeds is give the pupil some sort of structured learning, by providing reading materials then activity’s based on the material. I guess they think that teachers will create activity’s but something tells me this may be a pipe dream.. I may be wrong though.. These activity’s are also confusing me because some of them just don’t open anything, I get a grey screen. I guess this part of the OS is work in progress..
Applications such as Joke Machine just seem to lack any true obvious structure or examples (probably due to restrictive disk space) but seem to have a great deal of potential for more experienced Sugar users.
Overall review
A very good operating system for learning at school and away from school. Fulfils all the requirements for a great mobile OS and seems quite engaging. My only criticism is the lack of spark on the GUI, the GUI is just too flat for me and needs some funking up!
Would I use it over Windows 7 in a school?
Well, a Windows 7 powered Asus EEE device is going to set the school back £300+ where as a Sugar device should cost £160 (all maintenance taken into account on both OS’). If money weren’t an object I would stick with Windows 7 but if it means we can give 2 pupils a device instead of 1 then the One Laptop Per Child initiative wins hands down. Sugar’s educational focus puts it ahead of other open source OS projects and even hosted cloud OS’ as it provides always available learning.
Just don’t tell my Microsoft buddy’s about this post 😉

School Freebies is delayed!! Oh noes…

Sorry everyone , I’m working at full speed today but I’m a little behind because I took some time out to go meet a neighbour to talk about wind power.

They have quite a large tower provided by Evoco – it looks great, I love how wind towers look on the horizon. People who hate on them deserve to be ignored.
So expect the freebies very late tonight as I am going out for a meal with a friend to akhbars Bradford.
I made a start on my school holidays last night which will be live in a few weeks probably, nothing too exciting, just a site where schools can put holidays and interface with them using gmail calendars, outlook, api, email and rss…. Consider it open source term date storage or something. I don’t know I just know I need it for a site I’m working on so I made a new service….
UPDATE – I’m working on it! Jeez you folks are hungry! Freebies coming tomorrow instead of today due to “having” to drink wine before it goes off!

Top 5 ways people in Primary Schools can contribute to open source projects

People working and learning Primary Schools benefit greatly from open source, with limited budgets available to spend on software since the e-learning credit pool of excessive levels of money were available schools have been shocked to find the reality of the cost of software so have opted for free hosted solutions which build their revenue from ads and other alternatives.

Open source tends to mean not for profit and this tends to mean the school pay nothing for the service, this is only possible if people who use the software contribute back to the community to improve the service.

How can you or someone in your school help the open source community?

1. Tell the community about your experiences using the product/service.

2. Proof read for bad grammar and speeling mistakes and/or write documentation for usage.

3. Create resources for the service (if applicable).

4. Recommend the service/product to a friend.

5. Donate to the organization providing the service/product.

If you do just 1 of 5 of these for each of the open source services you use then you are making your life slightly better each time.

How Bradford Primary Schools use Open source without knowing it

We find lots of schools opting for services provided by hosting companies that are based on open source. So open source is popular, but why?

If you asked a school if they knew what they were using open source they would glaze over, closed or open source isn’t of concern in a Primary school. The reason for this is that Primary Schools do not have the resources to invest in someone who can manage the code for the open source projects so open source is not a concern of theirs.
Free is good, this is the tipping point. “Owt for Nowt” as its often called in Bradford is supplied in many different ways.
The majority of the schools use an open source fault logging, hardware and software inventory and server monitoring service which is free & open source and available as a hosted service to any UK primary school.
On top of that many Bradford schools wont realize that the management/admin of Primary Email is actually open source and has been since Primary Email was first conceived. This wasn’t working too well in Primary Schools but when Primary Email became School Email and the secondary market showed interest in the source, Primary Email began to nurture a few contributors who now write modules for future releases, improving the service for both Primary and Secondary schools.
Do we expect Primary Schools to begin contributing to open source projects?
Yes, but in a different way. Secondary schools employ people who are technical so we can expect some technical feed back. Primary Schools should try to give as much guidance and leadership feedback to open source projects, leading the project developers so that developers can focus on code with a clear strategy and vision implemented by the school itself.