With dwindling financial support from the government, public schools in Hong Kong are scrambling to find ways to continue developing the use of information technology in teaching and learning. Most schools bear the high cost of proprietary software and there is a shortage of human resources for technical support. One way to alleviate the financial burden is to explore the use of open source software (OSS) and free web applications. This paper gives an account of a study employing OSS in school administration to replace proprietary software. A pilot school was chosen on the basis of three criteria, namely having (1) a computer network infrastructure which includes firewall, routers and a security system; (2) applications for administration such as a web server, a database server, an information management system and an e-learning platform; and (3) client side applications from digital resources to educational software. Judgements on the effectiveness of using open-source software were based mainly on flexibility, sustainability and cost. In this pilot, schools found that the open source software provided a low-cost alternative to proprietary software, and there were also other positive side-effects, such as: a reduction in dependence on software vendors; a higher level of security; and a more efficient and effective way of customization. This experience may be of benefit to other schools.
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2008|