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open source on CICM schools

i was a part of a CICM school with my last employer. the CICM system is indeed a great system which benefits all the schools that is part of it . one program that has a great impact is their Provincial Committee on Education meeting that is being held evry year . last may , i was part of my university's team to join the metting at Pagudpud . i was tasked to discuss with other school representative about IT matters. prior to the schedule, there was already a topic , it is the VOIP proposal to interconnect all CICM schools from Saint Marys University. another topic that was discussed is the open source program. this is the topic that i was tasked to write a report . thus, this blog. below is the unedited draft of what i submitted , feel free to comment.
Human knowledge belongs to the world. This is a famous quote from the movie Anti-Trust, a movie that introduced some of the concepts of open source software. What is an open source software ? In layman's term , an open source software is a free software. These application programs can be downloaded without a charge and no license is to be purchased from the vendor to signify that you legally own the software. They are very different from some famous software that everyone has been accustomed to over the year. The sad thing for most Filipinos is that only some lucky ones are using a licensed copy of these famous softwares.

Over the years , there has been an aggressive move from the authorities to crack down on pirated softwares. These moves left financially struggling schools at a crossroad Will they continue to use illegal software because they could not afford the licensing fee charged by giant software manufactures or will they invest on the purchase of this expensive software? That was the scenario then , when open source alternative was nowhere in sight . As the 20th century came to a close , open source alternative became a possibility. The blooming of the Internet made the distribution of open source software easier . Soon after, a lot of people and organization are joining the bandwagon and shifting to a cost efficient and effective alternative, open source softwares.

What about the local community , the CICM schools in particular ,are they ready to embrace this alternative?

With the aim to find a cost effective solutions on the licensing issues on most of the softwre being used by the CICM schools,the MIS/Net group during the 1st PCE meeting for SY 2007-2008 held at Pagudpud , Ilocos Norte, tackled several issues that might lead to a better alternative solution. Each of the participating schools admitted that they are having problems in the licensing of their softwares. Each of the participating schools admitted that they are open to a better alternative. Thus , the topic on the use of open source software.

The discussion revolves around 3 important issues . First is the readiness of the users to use these software. This is particularly aimed to the end users , the office workers and personnels. Are they willing to learn the use of new software? Will the use of these new software affect their efficiency and productivity? How long should they be trained before they could regain back their efficiency and productivity using the new set of software.. Second , the compatibility of the existing IT infrastructure and system to open source software. Most of the schools built their IT System and infrastructure based on expensive software and standard. An immediate shift to open source technology may lead to instability due to incompatibility. And lastly, the viability of the students trained using open source technology in the industry. If a university shifts to open source technology as the main tool in training their students, are theses skill viable in the industry? In this issue, came one important question that should be answered by the whole academic world, will the academe dictate what technology is to be used by the industry? Or will the industry dictate what technology should be used in training the students.?

With these issues at hand , the group came up with the following recommendations :
1. On user readiness. That there should be an extensive training and orientation program for the users. A transition period should be set for the shift of technology use.
2. On compatibility to the existing IT system and Infrastructure That as much as possible all major software used on most services such as e-mail services, web services, Internet services should be running open source softwares to greatly reduced the cost of operation. A transition time can be set for the conversion of existing information systems to make them compatible with open source solutions.
3. On the viability of students trained using open source technology. That there should be an extensive research on the market trend to determine what skills are being needed by the industry.
Basing on the following discussions , it is clear that the move to use open source technology in CICM schools may not happen overnight. It needs a lot of time, preparations, trainings and cooperations from the users. The 1st PCE Meeting for SY 2007-2008 could be the first bold move towards achieving it.


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