Won't students be deprived if not taught on Microsoft Windows or MS Office?

Won't the students be deprived if not taught on Microsoft Windows or MS Office?

Definitely not, as long as a teacher's focus is on teaching concepts and digital literacy rather than just tools. Let us elaborate.

Conceptual teaching and policy guidance

Irrespective of any platform or tool, the emphasis of a school curriculum should be on concepts. No other platform offers the freedom and choice to experience, create, analyse, experiment, and hence learn become digitally literate, than the world of open source software.

Adoption of open source software has also been recommended on Pg 11, Sec 6.3 of the National Policy for ICT in School Education of India (2012) by some highest order thinkers of our country -
A software environment favouring a pedagogy of learning which promotes active learning, participatory and collaborative practices and sharing of knowledge is essential to nurture a creative society. Free and Open Source Software – operating system and software applications will be preferred in order to expand the range of learning, creation and sharing.

Concern about not learning on Microsoft Windows

  1. The concepts that are referenced in any school curriculum around computer education or digital literacy, and are being taught while interacting with the Windows desktop environment can absolutely be taught using the Linux desktop as well.
  2. Since a Linux desktop offers unlimited possibility of customisation, it can be made to look like that of Windows with very little customisation. And with our solution it is possible to tweak the desktop in 3 clicks. And all the customisation can be done without fear of breaking anything. Even if anything is broken while trying to customise, it is possible to reset everything very easily. Isn't a fearless environment better to explore and learn?
  3. No school curriculum teaches about the inner workings of Windows or Linux. It is a subject left for higher education. Hence one need not fear at all.
  4. Most leading publishers of quality computer books either reference screenshots from Windows, Linux and Apple's OS X desktops or have a dedicated Linux series. Thus full guidance is available when you are ready to make the switch.
  5. Majority of the applications used to teach the basic concepts of computing are the same across the series from the same publisher. Most resort to the same open source applications apart from a few proprietary tools such as MS Office and Adobe Photoshop.  Herein is a list of open source application alternatives listed against their proprietary counterparts which is evidence enough that no concept will be left untouched even if teaching using the Linux platform.
  6. A common concern of IT administrators is their claim to be familiar with Windows and not being familiar with the Linux environment when it comes to adopting the My sCool Server solution. To administer the My sCool Server solution, one only needs to be familiar with this comprehensive and extremely concise guide of less than 10 pages. Typically the My sCool Server requires only one administration task per school year i.e. creation of new userids for students  who are going to use the lab for the first time and deletion of those using it for the last time. All of these apprehensions may be addressed during the free trial period.

Concern about not learning MS Office tools

  1. The fundamental concepts that are being taught while using any office suite are that of word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and diagrammatic representation. The same can be taught with equal efficiency by using any of the open source alternatives such as Libreoffice or Openoffice.
  2. There are several reports in the media that Microsoft itself is discouraging usage of MS Office desktop tools in favour of promoting their cloud alternative - Office 365. This is evidence enough for one to understand that there is no guarantee of a particular tool being in popular usage when a student transitions from one's academic to professional life. But if one is adept in the fundamental concepts, then irrespective of an office suite one shall be able to adapt.
  3. Yet it is possible to teach using Microsoft's Office 365 freely even while using the My sCool Server. All one needs is a reliable and sufficient internet connection.

Technical agility

As one may observe around them, majority of those introduced to the computing world using open source technologies are fearless and can easily adapt to any technical platform to get their job done. However, the same cannot be said of those who have only worked with Windows. And Microsoft under the leadership of Mr. Satya Nadella realises the same. For this and other strategic reasons, Microsoft itself hugely supports open source software.

We do not state that one should not teach using the Microsoft technologies but being a slave to the same, or any one tool is doing a great disservice to our learners. To further understand why we have created the My sCool Server on Linux, read herein.