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More on RISC OS in schools

By Chris Williams. Published: 15th Mar 2005, 18:54:27 | Permalink | Printable

New web browser hopes could address tech gap woes

RISC OS in educationAs a follow up to our previous article on the role RISC OS plays in today's education, Daryl Barber of St Bede's Catholic Middle School, Redditch, has reported on how his school uses our platform.

The school uses 6 RiscPCs and 26 Acorn Network Computers on an NT 4 network, running Topcat 1, for year 5 and 6 pupils.

"[Finding a suitable] web browser is an issue, but the teaching staff have not used RISC OS, they all have Windows laptops," says Daryl.

"The RISC OS computers still produce some stunning work: Spex+ designs, Dazzle and Textease for animations, Vision24 for capturing images, Draw for some vector work and Sonor for playing with sounds. The pupils enjoy using them, the platform is not an issue."

The NCs only have 256 colour desktops, which is limiting, according to Daryl. Weighing up whether or not to move to Apple computers, he adds: "If they had Draw and Dazzle, even without, I could live with 34 Mac Minis and flat screens to replace the RISC OS machines. PCs are so cheap it, would be easy to have all PCs but my hair would be even greyer and my language bluer. BBCs and RISC OS produce adaptable, computer literate pupils."

Our report concluded that one of the main problems faced by the remaining schools that employ RISC OS is the lack of a modern web browser for the OS. With the possibility of a Firefox port or Oregano 3 brought to the platform, could we see a change in fortune? Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to lock UK schools into their platform, offering hand outs to cash strapped schools. Judging from the response we've received from readers, it seems Gary Locock's observation that schools should be broadening children's technology horizons, rather than focusing them onto one solution, is most astute.

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GGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR !!!!!!!!!!! Stupid Microsoft !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is about time, that someone is putting dynamite into Microsoft and Bill Gates. Not Micros*ft should rulez, but Risc OS from Brittish People !!! Risc OS is Brittish and that stupid Microsoft is not Brittish at ALLLLLLL !!!!!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 15/3/05 8:13PM
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"BBC and RISC OS produce adaptable, computer literate pupils."

This is where political expediency and financial issues impinge on sound educational reasons. Educating children to be adaptable with a problem solving approach by exposing them to a variety of systems is sound education. Narrow, platform compliance driven agendas is anything but. Particularly when the "everyone has Windoze" argument is used to justify narrowing and weakening educational objectives.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 16/3/05 1:27AM
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The ideal solution would be for schools to have a variety of platforms at their disposal. I would think that it would be a logistical nightmare to keep several separate networks running in parallel, but have any schools done this on a large scale with an even proportion of, say, three platforms? I certainly know of a few which run both Windows and Mac networks, with an relatively even split of computers to each network.

Although RISC OS is an excellent system to work with, and even better to learn computing on, you could argue that schools running solely on RISC OS are also guilty of not teaching children to be adaptable.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 16/3/05 5:51AM
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timephoenix: The fact that they are exposed to a different platform forces them to adapt when they use the more commonly available system. It requires them to problem solve: they know it can be done but will probably be done in a different way so that have to seek a solution.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 16/3/05 6:44AM
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Terminal server and citrix are good answers to allowing "industry standard" programs to exist side by side with other systems.

We have Citrix at the school I work at. I have connected to the system and used the standard windows desktop with RISC OS (3.1 and above) Mac OS 7 and above, Windows 3.1 and above, DOS and Windows CE. It is also possible to connect with Linux, OS/2 and Nokia Comminicators. Getting microsoft off the desktop and only into the server room is a huge saving on time, both maintainence and start up. It also means high energy processors don't need to be used in the classroom, cutting noise and heat.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 16/3/05 1:02PM
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Love the Register report. What's going on in this country?!

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 16/3/05 5:51PM
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To harmsy: the corrupt practices have been going on for many years. No-one wants to know.

To rmac: Financial issues = throwing as much taxpayers money at Bill Gates as possible. Windows machines have cost schools between 2 and many hundreds of times more than the equivalent RISC OS machines. I'd publish the figures but no-one would believe them.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 17/3/05 1:06AM
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That's why you publish them, and then defend them with evidence when people say they're wrong.

Speaking of terminal servers, does anyone else experience a problem of lost keystrokes when using !RDPClient?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 17/3/05 1:30AM
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jc: Yes, you absolutely should publish those figures, as widely as possible, and there is no better time to highlight this waste of taxpayers' money than now, in the run up to the general election. I suggest you start with the Daily Mail, they love that sort of thing.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 17/3/05 8:54AM
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Or failing that, someplace that's sane, like the internet

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 17/3/05 1:19PM
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How about the Taxpayers Alliance site at www.taxpayersalliance.com

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 17/3/05 1:42PM
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In reply to jc:

How ever unbelieveable your figures are, I'd believe them unseen!

It is not only the cheapness and the "Wow, new features" attitude of the Windows platform that lures these obsessed Windows fanatics in our school computer system, but the untold maintenance and our computer ICT teacher who rarely teaches computers as he is "more" busier in his Windows Maintenance chores. Yeah! The not so happy classroom teachers are left in the computer room more than often while our ICT "Teacher" is in his "dustcoat" job repairing, servicing and upkeeping the daily (I mean hourly) chores of Windows wonders.

I personally respect and admire my school's ICT teacher, but hold my breath for Windows as opposed to the untouched failproof RISC OS I run in my department.

I have made a pledge to the browser development, irrespective of personal opinions, or thoughts of what I think about the RISC OS world.

I simply feel that after what we have been through over many years with RISC OS, we should all take this moments opportunity to give our best support regardless.

Certainly the school is the best exposure for RISC OS, not just the children but the parents as well.

Did I see Bill Gates being "Knighted" by the Queen on the world news recently? I'm afraid the Queen should have got the "Axeman" to do the job!

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 18/3/05 8:17AM
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I've been helping at a local primary school recently on Tuesday afternoons with a maths club for talented pupils. On a number of occassions, we have used the school's computer suite (of about 20 RM PCs running Windows 98) for maths games on the internet. When I looked at the software installed on these computers, and the presentations on the wall of some of the pupils' computer artwork (with an American software package with 'color' in the name!) I felt nostalgic for my primary school days of Textease, Dazzle, Draw and Maestro (which I thought was an amazing program - I'd never seen anything like it on my Windows 3.1 machine at home). Not to mention the wonders of Hello World, Textease and Pendown, the Crystal Rainforest and the BBC children's programs like Spywatch (I was the first to play it at my school!). It was also at this school that I was first interested in programming, as it was so accessible through BBC BASIC. Try writing a simple BASIC program in Windows XP! I couldn't help thinking how complicated Windows must be for these pupils compared to how easy I found RISC OS to use when I was at primary school. Now of course, I have to fight for one of 10 remaining Windows 98 PCs if I want relatively trouble free computing at my secondary school. Otherwise I'm stuck with the Windows XP RM 'Community Connect 3' PCs quickly increasing in numbers (help me!).

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 19/3/05 7:23PM
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The point that strikes me with what Smiler is saying, is that our platform and the software is still quite user friendly and easy to use.

It's the more complex feature packed PC programmes that puts many people off using computers and I don't think that most computer users really want or need feature packed complicated programmes.

Although our platform is gaining in software improvements, I hope that most of our software remains quite user friendly.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 21/3/05 12:25AM
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