back to article Council to chuck £28m wad at schools' ICT supplier

Staffordshire county council has published a tender for suppliers to join a wide-ranging ICT framework agreement for use within schools and other education establishments for both administration and curriculum purposes. It includes the provision of servers, storage, workstations, portable devices, software, wireless technology, …

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FAIL

Who ate all the pis

28M would get you a lot of raspberry pis but instead let's buy "workstations" that won't actually be used for anything a pi couldn't be.

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FAIL

Re: Who ate all the pis

And while we are at it lets spend lots of money on MS software that won't be used for anything that OpenOffice or LibreOffice can't be.

Double Fail.

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Re: Who ate all the pis

MS lobbies* the government to push MS in schools, MS basically gives away software to schools, employers get people who only know MS software (thus nothing about computers) and so employers buy MS, as do their employees as this is all they know. It's a great little marketing scam.

In a true democracy the government would enact whatever was in the best interest of the people, not who supplied the most recent perk.

It also must be remembered that MS opposes F/OSS and any attempt to use open standards.

*The polite word for "bribes".

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Re: Who ate all the pis

"MS basically gives away software to schools"

Really? Because I'd be interested where that option is. MS all-but refuse to sell them anything but an annually-recurring license for everything they could potentially have (used or not) if they have large sites (e.g. secondary) and "you're on your own" for smaller (e.g. Primaries). Some Borough have agreements, but I assure you it's far from "given away".

Hell, sometimes it's cheaper to just get the software yourself. Pugh.co.uk are probably the biggest educational-focused software licensing place I know. Go look at their prices.

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Anonymous Coward

Backdoor methods - Re: Who ate all the pis

I noticed that my employer's staff and student computers had Audacity on them. So I asked nicely about adding GIMP, Inkscape and LibreOffce. GIMP, Inkscape went on in a few hours.

The techhies were worried about LibreOffice on the grounds that students could get confused by two Office packages. I think the fear was Gemma or Scott would start an assignment in LibreOffice by mistake and then have problems converting tables/drawn diagrams. I can see their point.

My patient, slow, step by step master plan is to have Edbuntu running on the thin clients one day...

Anonymous simply because the IT lads were not in the slightest bit jobsworth about this and I don't want any misunderstandings.

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Er, iPads?

iPads are beginning to be used in schools, but most significantly in Special Needs education Touch screens have been used in this area for some 20 years, but the ipAd has the unique advantage, that it can be presented for use by a student with limited mobility.

They are a major step forward in this field!

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Re: Er, iPads?

Not going to disagree on the utility of the iPad, but in the "Age of Austerity" can we afford to spunk this wad over Cupertino? Other (cheaper, more configurable and open) touch devices are available.

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Re: Er, iPads?

Further to the other comment about "why iPads?", wouldn't kids in schools and in particular Special Needs kids actually be better off with something a bit more rugged? I'm pretty sure that nothing about the iPad is actually unique apart from maybe the price.

Also I'm not a huge fan of the whole locked in OS thing, in my opinion the Apple strategy is worse for the consumer than the whole MS strategy, at least when you bought a PC with a MS OS installed you could still get support for the hardware in the event you replace the OS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Er, iPads?

@Richard 123

Are you insinuating that special needs kids are clumsy careless people then? because the majority aren't.

You clearly have no idea about how these children will use their devices or how well they will look after the one thing that gives them a hope of becoming an equal in terms of the standardised testing that children are put through. These children would be best of with an easy to use device that will function correctly for 99% of the time. An android tablet may be more configurable but that just means there is more to go wrong.

Do you really think that these children whose lives are being changed for the better will give two shits about whether the OS is open or not? Personally I think that this is one situation where IT folks should just step back and let the skilled professionals assess the needs and wants of their patients in context to how they will be using the device. If that means they choose an iPad as the best solution then so be it.

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Re: Er, iPads?

Hey Micky (you're so fine), I understand that not all special needs kids are clumsy careless people. However some kids with violent behaviour disorders will not treat anything with respect, and you're proposing it's a better idea to give them a £400 iPad than to give them a ruggedized tablet.

I think it's a bad idea to give any kids that sort of equipment, whether they're in a wheelchair, on crutches, are in a coma or totally hyperactive.

I was a kid once too.

So no I'm not insinuating that ALL special needs kids are clumsy careless people, just that some of them aren't going to respect anything they're given.

You also seem to be suggesting that IT folks shouldn't have an opinion on what IT equipment should be used in a given situation.

You know that a lot of IT folks have experience of gathering a set of requirements and making a recommendation based on those requirements right? And that those IT folks will have a far broader knowledge of available technology than that of the average "skilled professional" (or case worker)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Er, iPads?

@Richard 120

"You know that a lot of IT folks have experience of gathering a set of requirements and making a recommendation based on those requirements right? And that those IT folks will have a far broader knowledge of available technology than that of the average "skilled professional" (or case worker)"

And a lot of the time they get it wrong. "oh we forgot to factor x in" or "the users requirements weren't clear"

It's not just case workers that are involved in these decisions, I am talking about the team of medical professionals that have been brought in to assess the students interaction with the different devices. They have chosen the iPad because the base technology is just not important, it is how the user can interact with the device that makes the difference in these cases. Claiming that some guy in IT knows the medical implications of their buying decision is just laughable. The people assessing and helping the students don't care about cost, openness or how easy it is to upgrade, they care about their patient.

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Re: Er, iPads?

Being a special needs kid doesn't mean you have behavioural problems. And having behavioural problems doesn't mean you're going to chuck an iPad across the room.

Most bad behaviour is chosen. The 'problem' is their actions can be amplified or overblown. Most children wouldn't throw anything they know they'd be banned from using.

As far as rugged - just get a strong case or surround. They will do the job just fine.

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Bronze badge

Re: Er, iPads?

And a lot of the time they get it wrong. "oh we forgot to factor x in" or "the users requirements weren't clear"

Yes and the same can be said of case workers, medical researchers etc. although their responses are more along the lines of: "we thought that was an IT problem", "that wasn't relevant to our research", "we didn't think of that"...

Just because the touch screen interface of the iPad is helpful to a niche group of children (and yes I have seen marked improvements in SEN children who have use of an iPad with an appropriate selection of app's installed), doesn't mean that it will automatically be of benefit to all other school children. Additionally, since much of the medical research was undertaken, other devices have become available.

In my direct experience the iPad/iOS isn't the uber user-friendly and intuitive device that many of its fans will have you believe. Some of my problems with the iPad2 have been concerned with ensuring that it is aligned with existing teaching approaches, which are based on substantive research into child learning and development, others have been concerned with the usual ICT stuff: 30 iPads to be use in any classroom but all need to have access to the school's intranet etc. etc.

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Unhappy

Stupid Stick

They need to go find the stupid stick and whack some sense into themselves. Were is the justification that open source software and cheaper, European branded Archos/Arnova tablets won't be just as good?

We can't afford vanity purchases in this climate, we are still paying for the banks after-all.

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Meaty Pi-Man...

That's enough to buy a lot of RasPi's :(

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Meh

Strip all that crap out.

And put back BBC B machines with the 1985/87 O-level computer studies curriculum. Didn't do any of us any harm.

Get back to basics at school. The kids can get to grips with Office/Internet /Porn at home.

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FAIL

One other thing....

...say a school gets 20 iPads a the start of term. How many will still be around/not broken by the end of term?

I bet the reason for pushing such expensive kit is all about raking in the inflated replacement costs over the school year.

I've seen PCs after they have been retired from High Schools. It's not pretty. If they were animals their pics would be in RSPCA cash appeals.

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Re: One other thing....

We have 20 iPads and they are all in perfect condition.

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Although Central Government is going through an expensive Framework setup for hardware, Local Government insists on wasting money just to show independence from the centre AGAIN.

They never learn do they - egos before councill tax payers once more.

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ipads

Ha we've just had the ipad meeting. Apparently kids in primary schools are using them and they need to continue that experience. Or maybe we should have an open wi-fi network and the kids can use their own devices? oh decisions decisions. Each one more laughable than the last.

And yeah some kids should be using BBC's but programming is just an aspect of modern computing and frankly programming (any language) is not for many.

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