Goodbye Microsoft and hello Ubuntu! Yesterday, the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of government services, Michelle Courchesne, announced Bill 133: Loi sur la gouvernance et la gestion des ressources informationnelles des organismes publics et des entreprises du gouvernement. The ambitious law hopes to save the government 200 million dollars by making a practice of adopting open source software primarily in the education and health sectors.
Open source software is software that is available free of charge as an alternative to conventional commercial models. Open source software can be used and disseminated at will, and the source code is open and can be changed as required (source). A well-known alternatives to Microsoft Office, for example, is Open Office. (A more complete list of open source software can be found here on Wikipedia.)
What does this mean for Educational Technology in Quebec? Besides the obvious cost savings to the Province, the move to embrace open source software will give the open source community a boost in popularity. Although there will be less choice of software available to technology co-ordinators, it is more likely that schools and school boards throughout the province will adopt software that will become the standard and this will lead to compatibility and a greater sharing potential; at the moment, it’s quite common for teachers to complain that they can’t open a docx or odt file that they received because they don’t have the most recent version of the software or they don’t have access to the same software. Finally, those involved in the education sector will explore new alternatives and will, as a result, find software tools that they wouldn’t have previously been considered. In short, if Bill 133 becomes law, then there will be a change in the paradigm of educational technology in Quebec.
To view a video of the announcement, click here.
To read the print document of bill 133, click here.
To read about the announcement in Cyberpress.ca, click here. (French)
To read about the announcement in Le Devoir, click here. (French)