New software agreements for schools are riling some teachers who are required to remove Microsoft Office from all Apple Macintoshes used in the classroom.
The schools are no longer licensed to use Microsoft’s popular Office suite under the new contracts negotiated between vendors and the Ministry of Education.
The change is simply a matter of value for money and appropriateness, says ministry ICT spokesman Douglas Harre. Macs in classrooms have now been equipped with the Apple products Iwork and Kidpix in place of Office.
Since the majority of Macs in the classroom are in primary schools, the Apple software offers better educational value, says Harre. “The average seven-year-old is not worried about programming macros in Excel.”
Mac laptops provided to teachers under the TELA scheme will still be licensed to use Office, as will Macs used for school administration. But a geekzone forum contributor, using a pseudonym, is clearly not happy. “[The move] has some serious ground-level impacts,” writes the commentator.
“The previous Schools’ Agreement is apparently voided and the memo I received quite clearly stated I must remove MS School Licence-agreement installations of Office v.X from all Apple computers.
“All Apple computers have been removed from the new agreement [with Microsoft]. The Ministry of Education is arranging for separate licensing of MS Office for Apple TELA laptops and administrative Macs.
“Apple Macs in the
classroom are therefore not covered for MS Office in this agreement and will need to have MS Office removed if it had been deployed under the previous agreement.”
The ministry’s Harre confirms this is the case and estimates that there are about 25,000 Macs in schools.
“That’s a ballpark figure. Schools aren’t obliged to tell us what they buy,” he says.
“It is [the ministry’s] responsibility to spend [the] millions of taxpayers’ money in what we see as the most effective way.”
Dorothy Burt, e-learning leader at Auckland’s Point England primary school, says the removal of Microsoft software from classroom Macs surprises her.
“The ministry is constantly saying we should be moving towards connectivity between schools, but they’re taking away from the Mac schools the software that the PC schools are using.”
But, she says, “It’s not so much of an issue in the classroom. We’re using Google Docs, Google spreadsheet and other open-source software anyway. We did use Office in the classroom, [but only] because we had it.” Burt sees the adoption of Iworks and Kidpix as a very positive move. “But [it will] be interesting to see how the connectivity situation works out,” she adds. The new contracts involve all the ministry’s education agreements with Microsoft, Apple, Novell and CA.