The Madison School District has more or less standardized many computers on Microsoft’s Windows operating system software. This approach, pitched as “sensible” because “that’s what most people use” ignores the explosive growth of other technology platforms such as:
- Linux; which, ironically, the MMSD uses to run its own web servers (likely because of the ongoing security issues with Windows servers and the performance advantages linux provides). In the tech world, we speak of this as “eating your own dog food” – or not.
- Cell Phones/PDA’s, including those that run the Palm OS and Symbian
- ipod – Duke University’s approach is interesting; an ipod for all incoming freshman (the iPod, is after all a very small computer). The iPods will be used for course materials (text & mp3 audio clips, calendar items) and music, of course.
- The increasingly interesting, unix based, mac. Roger Ebert provides some examples.
- Increasingly smart network devices.
- Anyone who uses google, uses linux. Google runs what is either the largest, or one of the largest linux installations in the world. Many other very large sites also run linux.
- Nikon’s latest digital camera supports wireless networks
The MMSD technology approach also ignores the fact that much will change by the time today’s K-12 students enter the workforce. At the end of the day, the network (the internet, essentially built on unix) is truly the computer.
Finally, one of the arguments for a windows monoculture is price. Advocates argue that windows pc’s are cheaper (generally ignorning the cost of virus, worm and other TCO (total cost of ownership) issues such as ongoing security patches, software compatibility issues and network support). Some of the cheapest pc’s around are linux based “LindowsOS PC’s, starting at $278.00.