I sent an email to our local technology director asking what software the district uses for email and office documents; I was surprised to here they use GroupWise and not so surprised they use Microsoft Office. But then I started thinking about this, they are paying for the use of this software! I am paying for them to use this software through my taxes. I guess the email can be many options but there are so many services out there that are dirt cheap I don’t know why they would choose GroupWise – I need to dig a little further on that one.
As for Microsoft Office – I see no need for a school district to pay for an Office suite when free products like Lotus Symphony (which is based on Eclipse) and Open Office are available. Microsoft probably gives schools very cheap licensing but I am sure (but not totally sure) it is not free.
Then I started thinking about the different sites my school district uses to communicate between parents and teachers, they have basically created a “community” online but it is based on 1999 technology. How cool would it be if something like Lotus Live was used for it? I don’t know the details around the licensing of Lotus Live but I think this kind of stuff would be a good business opportunity for business partners to go and implement these kinds of vertical communities.
There is an issue though – someone needs to get this idea out there and sell it. I don’t think the education sector (at the high school level and lower) know too much about these areas. One way is to educate politicians and have them get the message spread to the various school boards – is this an opportunity for change?