The government's framework for ICT is an uninterrupted paean of praise for Microsoft's products. The argument used is that because Microsoft is so widespread there is no need for students to know about any other system. It is fine for a substantial chunk of the educational budget to be handed over to the fat cats of this global corporation while the government lavishes free advertising on them at our expense.
This is in any case a fake argument. Microsoft may be all-poweful now. IBM once was. Schools could have ignored anything which was not IBM “because pupils would never need it in the real world” and be left looking pretty stupid now. Pupils who can only use Microsoft taught by teachers who can only use Microsoft is Bill Gates' wet dream but it is an educational nightmare.
I use Microsoft products when there is no alternative but usually there is an alternative product. I am not promoting any particular alternative but open source free software, such as Mozilla and Open Office, does not put a penny into the pockets of the corporations.
I downloaded Mozilla. It is free. It is a better program for editing web pages than the cumbersome Microsoft products recommended by the government. It does not require pupils to understand HTML - it teaches it to them. Pupils work on the text of the web page they want to produce and there is one tab which can show them how the html tags are being used in their text and another tab which shows them what the “raw” HTML looks like.
I downloaded open office. It took a long time to download but once downloaded I am using it now to produce a Word document which could be imported into Microsoft Word if necessary and this morning I used it to produce an Excel spreadsheet – and all without wasting public money – or my own for that matter – propping up Microsoft.
Open source software also has more educational value than Microsoft because pupils who want to know more about the software at any level can find out more without coming up against a brick wall of “business secrets” used by the corporations to protect themselves against rivals. More advanced students can even download the source code for the programs.
The websites of the open source projects referred to here are:
Derek McMillan ( http://derekmcmillan.tripod.com )