CNet reports that the South Korean goverment is “rolling out a home-grown open source platform for 10,000 schools in the country.” The project has been named the “New Education Information System” and builds upon a Korean version of Linux that has already been implemented in 190 schools in Seoul. The reasons stated for the change include budgetary concerns, security issues and the possibilities of localized support. In fact, because the system will be home-grown, South Korean officials believe it will be much easier to develop home-grown localized support structures.
I see this development as both positive and negative. I think it’s wonderful that the South Korean government has decided to (mostly) break it’s ties with historical vendors (i.e., Microsoft) in utilizing an open source platform to bring about flexibility and customizability to the desktop, to soften economic concerns and to spur local support economies. However, something’s missing. The open revolution should not be seen simply as an anti-Microsoft or anti-Corporate revolt, it is moreso an anti-dominance revolution. In the case of South Korea, dominance is simply moving to a new address.
Think of it this way. I’ve been loving the recent conversations regarding different CMS’s (Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard, WebCT, etc.). And yes, I would love to see my own institution and province moving toward supporting open source software. However, if I were to wake up tomorrow and hear that Moodle has been instituted across the province, or across the institution, I would not be overly happy. Instituting any particular technology, even if it IS open source, is still missing the point.
Teaching well with technology requires flexibility, choice and experimentation. Tools I use today, I may disregard tomorrow. How can this approach be supported? Simply stated, institutions need to stop supporting technology, and begin supporting innovation. How, you ask? To be continued … but first, let’s hear from you.
Hmm – we could even leave out “with technology” – Teaching well requires flexibility, choice and experimentation. Good teachers are always innovators (in my experience, but I don’t have any research to back that up). The role of school administration at all level should be to support and encourage that innovation. Sadly, when it comes to technology, departments of education seem to have been co-opted by marketing departments for software manufacturers.