Thousands of students in the state of North Carolina are set to get a skoolin' in Microsoft technologies thanks to a state-wide deal with the software giant. Microsoft said Tuesday that North Carolina has become the first US state to implement Redmond's Microsoft IT Academy Program for its public high schools — 628 in total. …
Lets see this in another light
Microsoft is giving free software, services, and support, for a product listed on state and federal bid lists, to a government operated facility, such that their product is promoted, and potentially exclusively used, alters the student curriculum, and becomes conditional on some level towards student graduation?
Please explain to me how that is not ILLEGAL!
As a reseller, I saw several of my competition fined, punished, and in 1 case imprisoned for offering "perks" to a school system in such a way that it favored the products they were offering vs the competition. Freebies and other bonuses are strictly prohibited in government/education bidding and e-rate programs. I also saw a school district denied all federal e-Rate funding for soliciting such offers.
Was this an open bid that Apple, Novel, and RedHat equally competed in before Microsoft was given the award? I'd not seen a bid advertisement go out... I'd like to see the bid results (they have to be made public after the award).
'I'm sure Apple, being a new NC resident with a Billion Dollar data center might ALSO like to see that data...
Lets see this in another light
When I was in the chemical industry, and our company had GSA privilege, there were a ton of regulations involved. Since GSA got the lowest price we could offer to anyone, I'm not sure how free product being given to a government facility, as Michael C noted, would be handled, when they already had an agreed-upon price listed with Federal/State purchasing. I'm not sure that this is legal either. It didn't used to be legal to give free product to one party and not give free product to another... back in the days of price controls. I'm wondering that if the State government wanted free, why not just grab Open Office? A Microsoft cert for "Typing in Word" is worth how much? This is a big poke-in-the-eye for Apple though. They located their data center in NC while Microsoft located their's in Virginia.
I truly hope that the Reg stays on top of this one! I doubt Steve Jobs is going to be quiet for long. :) Ric
Steve-o is not worried. Apple is now a consumer product company. Screw schools and businesses.
This is direct attack on Red Hat
Red Hat is based in Raleigh, North Carolina. They do lot of hiring from NC university, Microsoft wants to make hard for Red Hat to hire from university. But there is one thing: Red Hat is thinking of moving to Atlanta. City of Raleigh was trying to compel them to stay, but after this, I think it is impossible.
I am lost for words, truly.
Thanks, I needed a laugh.
If Microsoft had made their certificate requirements about 90% harder, then, and only then would you be able to believe the statement "Microsoft certifications are widely recognized by employers and can give students an edge in today's competitive job market,".
It's like a technology degree from DeVry. They can spell all of the vocabulary words, and use them in sentences and provided the sentences don't have to make technological sense, they're o.k.
Ask them to do something that wasn't covered in a lesson and they look at you like you're speaking Phoenician.
titles go here
Oh great another generation of technically incompetent high school grads.
And then they wonder...
...why students end up with the impression that anything related to I.T. is a boring, pointless subject. Teaching MS Office sounds like a guaranteed recipe for mind-numbing drudgery.
one would hope
that teaching Microsoft technologies goes slightly beyond basic office skills. If it was teaching .net coding, WCF etc, then potentially it has some value. Although a wide generic grounding and a couple of weeks of the specifics would be more useful.
Re: one would hope
>one would hope that teaching Microsoft technologies goes slightly beyond basic office skills.
Well stop hoping, it doesn't. Not even slightly.
Not that .NET coding skills would be more useful than Visual Basic skills were a couple years ago, come to think of it.
So instead of learning how to read from a book, write with pen and paper(cursive), and solve math problems without a calculator, they'll churn out students that have no clue what to do if there is a power failure? Technology is supposed to help, not be a crutch,
RE: Power Outage
"students that have no clue what to do if there is a power failure"
That is already pretty much the case in in the US of A.
Standard public education is on such on such a poor level that the vast majority can't spot 5 capital cities outside the US, do basic calculations without aid with numbers over two digits, relative sentences are not appreciated for being cocky/for showoffs, etc, etc.
The fact that it has the highest number of illiterates among the countries priding themselves to make the "first world" should speak for itself.
Plus, the youngsters have a serious media addiction, I don't know what else to call it...
So in a sense this is only an adaption to a reality that is very much appreciated by government and industry. At least I can see, apart from the business side, plain purpose in this.
You need only so many smart people to run a business per so many more to do the simpler tasks without complaining and trying to raise up.
And let's face it, MS software, from office applications to their administration tools and practices, is monkey safe.
Hearts and minds. Or brains. Braaaaiiiins.
If you ever need an army of minesweeper consultants and solitaire experts, you know where to go. Just be sure you have the exact same versions of the software they trained on. If XP is any measuring stick, that's back to skool every decade then.
Have to hand it to redmondian sales though. They're throwing in a lot of otherwise usually Very Expensive "goodies" that, well, aren't all that great for educating. Gives everybody in charge a warm fuzzy feeling for having obtained good PR value. Win-win all around.
Except perhaps for the students. But then, having to cope after you find that your edumacation isn't worth the paper your diploma was printed on isn't exactly a new experience. Wonder what the state is paying for all that PR exercising.
For the kicker, consider: Wasn't this software sold as "no training needed" because "intuitive"?
We Need Another Amendment
Since computer platform advocacy is often exercised with near-religious fervour, I propose that we attach another Amendment to our venerable Constitution to bring it up-to-date with modern times: "Separation of Software and State."
Or, in less snaky-oily terms:
" Fuck, everyone is considering moving to the competition, we need to ensure that they will have to retrain all their workforce should they choose to so do"
(Last VG just to annoy the Don Quixotes of split infinitives)
Can't hurt I guess. These people are not going to tune your automotive board controller anyways.
Fucking brilliant, now all these children can leave school with a certificate proving they know how to work MS office. Am I the only one instilled with a sense of burning everything?
As an engineering graduate looking for just about any job to pay the bills, I am really pissed off with seeing job ads specifically asking for experience with excel, word, access, powerpoint and what's more, actually feeling the need to mention that I can use these in covering letters, because "engineering degree" isn't read as "yes I can work a computer better than a monkey".
Preparing to go postal.
Wish me luck.
AC so I don't end up like the twitterbomber.
You said exactly what I was going to.
are most certainly not alone. I too poured a steaming hot cup of RAGE as I read the article. I just hope that we don't end up with anything quite so fucking asinine over here in Blighty.
El Reg sez:
"Thousands of students in the state of North Carolina are set to get a skoolin' in Microsoft technologies thanks to a state-wide deal with the software giant."
Oh, yeah. They'll get a "skoolin'", alright...
Why tf do I need a title?
Has anyone seen the episode of Daria titled "Fizz Ed". Once again life imiates art.
I guess if you want Microsoft Office "drones" then NC is the place go. Not that there seems to be anything in this deal which is going to train/teach anyone in creating anything that can be sold (meaning software).
Just what kids need to get ahead in life...
Making their own PowerPoint presentations about Intelligent Design ...
And when they graduate?
Seriously, Is MS going to refrain from any major upgrade in their software in the future? Otherwise, you'll have a bunch of graduates versed in obsolete software.
A parable for the situation:
"Josh was ready for the world, having spent his junior and senior years becoming a highly-employable master of Microsoft Windows 95.
Windows 98 came out publicly June 25, 1998 so it was a short-lived victory. "
From here: http://www.saysomethingcryptic.com/spackleofthesoul/10106.htm
(And yes, I'm aware it's humor, but it does illustrate the point.)
I'm sure Apple would just LOVE to see how this became awarded and I bet we hear about it in The Rez! :) Ric
If it were open source
There'd be 100 comments arguing whether they should be getting trained in Open Office or Libre Office or if KDE was chosen how it really should have been Gnome and so on ad infinitum ad absurdum.
Microsoft actually creates training materials that meet the standards of these schools - they have a whole bunch of academic programs designed specifically to meet institutional criteria. Other vendors rarely (or simply do not) do this - which is why they don't get a look in. On the Open Source side of things there is a fervent belief in not having to pay for documentation (which explains pretty much everything about the quality of open source training materials and documentation).
But it is not open source
True, there is little to complain about getting free software as a good deal, but remember this is the 'free' option beloved of crack dealers: "go on, try it, first hit is free..." Later you pay dearly.
Were it not for MS' track record in not being interoperate, in making some systems deliberately incompatible, and of course the fiasco over railroading MS Office as an 'open' ISO standard (which you might want to note, that Office still is not fully compliant with!) I might be pleased.
But as it stands, I see this as nothing short of an attempt to make sure the students don't see the alternatives, don't get used to the idea that *you* own your PC and can should be free to use it as you please, and don't learn to deal with computer diversity. So fail a year or two later when things change.
That will be all.
The argument about Open Source documentation and training material illustrates a circular problem, that of who actually pays to develop the documentation and training.
Training material costs money to develop, so people to do this sort of thing for a living expect to get something back to make it worth their while. Open source organisations can build a business model around this, but they have to get paid for the training and consultancy they provide. Free software does not mean free training.
Microsoft, on the other hand, can divert money paid to them by current customers into developing the training material to lock in the next generation of customers, who will then fund the next generation ad nauseam. And because they have an effective monopoly, they can browbeat the education departments with 'Of course your students need Microsoft Office skills, after all EVERYBODY uses our software'
I'm not saying that this is any different to other programs given to education by vendors, except that Microsoft can use this to reinforce their monopoly paid for by their already locked in customers, in a way that nobody else can.
Of course, in a perfect world, educational institutions would write their own material around open software, and in the spirit of the Open Source movement, contribute that material for other people to use without cost (can you publish training material under GPL, I wonder?)
Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world.
Yes, micros~1 can do all that, but that doesn't mean the FOSS community has no leverage. Let's start with noticing that even with micros~1 providing their own training materials there is still a substantial market for second-source courses and books and whatnot.
I was in the local public library not too long ago, and upon inspecting the "computer" section found a case full of office 2000-through-2007 and windows 95-through-2003 and word something to whatever and powerpoint this to that and ... well, you get the idea. There was half a shelf of vb, a couple ceehash and maybe one C++-on-windows book. Oh and a sack of books about third party windows programs, all versioned.
But nothing about even the for-children fundamentals I recall from the home computer era. Or anything vaguely interesting beyond using that one brand magic box as an appliance of this kind or another. Alright, there were some clearly lost linux-y books about, but that certainly wasn't the bulk. Between them those few books did have more actual content than the rest of the bulked-up-with-screenshots computer-y books.
I think that this, while saddening and an insult to trees, is a fundamental weakness in the redmondian+bandwagoneers model. Because those books ain't free, either.
There is a market for FOSS books, just look at all those books O'Reilly puts out. Those often aren't much more than glorified cookbooks but then again sometimes that's what you need.
And, as a final point, the FOSS communities depend for the software on its programmers contributing code. What's to stop people who don't code but want to contribute anyway to try their hand at writing documentation? It involves trying things out, asking questions, then writing something at least slightly better than the usual and nearly content-free "tutorial blog post". And the result is a suddenly far more usable program. Even just from documentation writers asking developers critical questions like "what does it even do there?" and "but how do we use that then?"
I know that at least the FreeBSD project has long put efforts into gathering up that sort of thing and integrating it into "The Handbook" and "The FAQ", to reasonable-to-good results, even though the most of more recent contributions could use some serious copy-editing. But that's just more contributing opportunity.
The important point is that the mere fact that documentation is available at all is very noticeable. The *BSD family has always had pretty good manpages, and even the linux guys are catching on to that now.
@Myself re: documentation under GPL
As I found out when I looked, what you need for documentation, and I presume training material, is the GNU Free Documentation License, or GNU FDL. Should really learn the lesson of checking before posting rhetorical questions.
Once upon a time
the man pages were really the documentation. I'm talking Bell Labs UNIX version 7.
If the man pages were not enough, and there was nothing in the "UNIX Papers" documents (that were shipped as n/troff source files almost complete on every V7 tape), then you could resort to the source (which was also shipped, at least to educational customers).
I get tired nowadays of typing "man something", and being given a stub man page that suggests I type "info something", which gives no more information (I actually do not understand why info is supposed to be better than man, I always trip over the key bindings, even though I am an emacs user).
Now I know that something like sendmail or perl cannot be described in a <10 page man page, and that large packages like Open/Libre Office deserve their own books, but I really miss getting comprehensive documentation of at least the usage of a command through man.
info is better because...
... the gn00 crowd declared it be thus. Possibly because the captive viewer is emacs-y. Probably a lot of NIH and "troff is so old, it must be obsolete", so they singlehandedly "deprecated" manpages. Most likely because they're crackmonkeys.
And it's quite evident how. They invented their own potentially-all-singing-all-dancing format that "only" needs a bunch of converters to other formats, conveniently forgetting that it's the nothing-held-back honesty of the content, not the hyperlinks and captive viewer, that make the reference manual useful.
And to add insult to injury, the way they produce something printable produces something that is actually typeset much worse than the average manpage. Despite using the massive overkill (and therefore waste of resources unless you were using it anyway) of TeX to typeset the thing. That is quite impressive in an extremely sad way. Not to mention that captive viewers take user choice away.
No, info isn't better. Not even with pinfo (the not-so-emacs-y alternative captive viewer). Either viewer tends to end up not finding the info page wanted and instead showing the manpage with the stub telling me to look at the info docs. In The Hated Captive Viewer.
But this is very much a linux and general gn00 software problem. They're starting to try and fix it, but so far most of the attempts at fixing are slightly less aggravatingly worded stubs with a paraghaph that says "this is courtesy debian" tacked onto the end.
If you want good manpages, don't look at the gn00 crowd. The *BSDs kept the manpage tradition. It's one of the reasons I prefer them over linux.
If it were open source
If it were open source there would be 42 comments from microsofties pointing at how itś so bad that you can't even give it away but have to strong-arm students into using it. (also, open source != free-as-in-beer, contrarily to what you say).
..is not training. And vice versa.
@James Picket - I disagree
I believe that one is a superset of the other. Training IS a type of education (in the broadest sense), but education is a much broader field than training.
I presume that you are comparing Training as in what-you-need-to-do-a-particular-job, with Education as in what-schools-and-colleges-provide.
But even with these definitions, you often find colleges offering vocational training, at least in the UK. When I worked in a UK Polytechnic (sadly a type of institution that no longer exists here), we were often approached by industry to provide training courses for particular subjects and fields. It seemed more natural at that time than approaching a commercial training organisation, and provided much needed cash to the Poly to help provide a better all round service.
Maybe I am looking through rose-tinted glasses, but I don't think so.
Things I Learned At School
English: To write an essay you need Microsoft Word.
History: People used to use pens and then typewriters, but now everyone needs a legal copy of MIcrosoft office.
Maths: To do complex calculations, one need Microsoft Excel. People used to use an abacus, their brains and rudimentary calculators, but now Microsfot Excel is indispensable.
Business Management: We need Microsoft Project and Microsoft Visio.
Marketing: Life is inconceivable without Microsoft Power Point.
Science: Excel, Access, Project, Word....
IT: Microsoft Windows makes the world go round. Microsof Access rocks... MySQL is only for geeks.
Sociology: Only geeks like the guys at Google run Linux. Normal people use Microsoft Windows...
French: Mon ordinateur a un controlleur orthographique en français de la Microsoft. Merci Redmond.
Politics: Open source advocates are dangerous extremists. Mainstream moderates support Microsoft.
Your computer may well be able to work in French, but did it teach French to you?
I think that not even the most masochistic person would attempt to use the Windows message catalogue to learn a foreign language!
Still, point taken.
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