Educational institutions present a contrast of sorts. On one side they, being given the responsibility to mould the citizens of tomorrow, are supposed to be at the cutting edge of technology. On the other side, they, not being a profit center, form the expense side of the budget. Bridging this gap has traditionally been the biggest challenge that educationalists of all generations have been faced with.
With the ever increasing pace of development in the information and communication technologies, incorporating and maintaining these into schools is calling for more and more resources and time. A central component of the challenge is coping with the heavy investment, usage restrictions and an endless cycle of upgrades of commercial proprietary software and systems.
Though many of the software companies offer special pricing to the schools, this has more to do with the hidden agenda of locking the institutions and the future generations that come out into their systems and less with the altruistic aim of supporting a very important social institution. Moreover almost all of the commercial solutions are closed and not standards based. This makes the interoperability and exchange of information between different systems a very tedious and extremely resource intensive process. The information that is created in the educational institutions are kept in proprietary formats by such systems, effectively putting these institutions at the mercy of these companies.
The above picture gives a very gloomy outlook, but all is not lost. An alternative approach to the challenges posed by the requirements of educational institutions is emerging and is being adopted widely around the world. This involves making greater use of free and open-source software.