Iceland to stamp out anti-open source bias in schools

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Iceland to stamp out anti-open source bias in schools

Aussie Moodle a success in Iceland's slow migration.

Iceland will kick off a program aimed at growing the use of open source by secondary schools as the country makes slow progress on a government-wide migration. 

The Nordic nation insists it is weaning itself off proprietary software following the 2008 policy that demanded government departments give open source "equal footing" with consideration of proprietary software during tenders.

"Public institutions have slowly been migrating to free software over the last four years," the government's open source project leader Tryggvi Björgvinsson said last week.

Björgvinsson said that all public administrations were increasing their use of free and open source software, announcing the focus on the education sector. 

The move to stamp out bias against open source in education comes a year after the Government launched a massive migration project for all of its public institutions. 

"The goal of the project is not to migrate public institutions to free and open source software in one single year but to lay a solid foundation for such a migration which institutions can base their migration plans on", said Björgvinsson.

Part of the challenge is making public sector IT leaders fully understand the "maturity" of open source alternatives.

However, Iceland will soon begin to document these based on a series of open source migration programs occurring already.

It will establish "common infrastructure for migrations" aimed at fostering collaboration between public institutions, IT service providers and Iceland's open source community.

Iceland's ministries, the city of its capital Reykjavik and the National Hospital, were providing a "good example", Björgvinsson noted.

Next target: schools on Ubuntu

"Next, we are making sure that in our public schools, the national curricula does not restrict the use of free and open source software," he said, adding that it was about to release a tender for services based on free and open source software. 

The nature of the challenge at the nation's public school system is different with just five out of the nation's 32 schools adopting open source, he noted. 

Those five had swapped out Windows for Ubuntu, he told ZDNet.  

The migrations come as the cash strapped nation, hit hard in the 2008 financial crash, hopes to lure Microsoft to build data centres there

But operating systems only cover part of the nation's shift to open source. Two of the secondary schools had "moved their systems entirely to free and open source software" in the past year.

One success was that a "majority" of secondary schools had adopted the Moodle course management system, an open source software organisation founded by Australian Martin Dougiamas who runs Moodle from Perth in Western Australia

Moodle will be targeting Australian schools this April at its 2012 Brisbane conference

"The country-wide migration project will build upon their experience and hopefully pave the way for other institutions to follow," said Iceland's Björgvinsson.

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