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07.22.10

Blackboard and TSC Block GNU/Linux in Education

Posted in Africa, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nigeria Windows logo

Summary: Schools continue to be dominated by Windows not just because of Microsoft but also because of close partners of Microsoft

The Microsoft-funded Blackboard, which threatens competitors using software patents (just like Microsoft), implicitly/metaphorically says “No Linux for Online Education,” according to this new post.

In addition to being a Linux Advocate and working 40+ hours a week I am also a full time student. Due to schedule constraints I often take classes online at Governors State University. To manage their online classes GSU uses a system called Blackboard. If you’ve stopped by my blog here before you probably know that I run various forms of Linux on all of my personal computers. In addition to this I am almost always using a bleeding edge browser build. It was the bleeding edge part that made me assume when I saw this message:

That is just didn’t like the latest Firefox I had installed. For an entire trimester I just clicked past this Window (the website itself worked perfectly fine in my bleeding edge Firefox).

This hardly surprises us given what we saw in recent years. Right now Blackboard follows the Microsoft guidebook and pretends to be "open". The above proves it to be anything but open. Schools are often being locked in by Microsoft thanks to this juvenile programming from Blackboard. Coincidence, design choice, laziness, or malicious intent? Wikipedia has a “Controversy” section in the article on “Blackboard Learning System”, and for good reasons.

Many people may also recall the Mandriva incident in Nigeria. As we wrote two years ago, to Microsoft it's not bribery if they call it “marketing help”. Now it is being claimed by an anonymous blogger that TSC played a role in it:

In 2007, a scandal broke in the world of technology about 11000 laptop computers that were meant to be supplied to Nigerian schools. The original deal was made with software company Mandriva. and their Mandriva Linux distribution was meant to run those computers. Somewhere along the line, the Mandriva CEO at the time alleged that Microsoft through its agent had bribed Nigerian government officials to install Windows on those computers rather than Mandriva Linux.

[...]

What irked me was what he told me. When the computers were brought back in 2007, the people who brought them just came, dumped them and they have not been seen since. This attitude actually makes TSC’s initial decision to dump Mandriva in favour of Windows the correct one, in a manner of speaking. The boys in Ogbia have been exposed to Windows, but not to Linux, and without some form of training, those computers were useless. Gift, the young man in question, has been thirsting to use his gadget for three years, and had no clue until I walked into his classroom in 2010!

This brings into question the use of the computers being brought by the Lagos state government for e-learning. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Linux is a superior platform to Windows in every way, and from the MOST important view point in our environment, cost, there is no better Operating System.

Here is the original article which shows that Microsoft's campaign to control Nigerian schools is working for the time being.

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