Open Digital School in Portugal?

Open Digital School in Portugal?

2020- 09- 03

The digitization of education in Portugal has revealed several challenges. The system was not prepared to work remotely, some schools managed to overcome adversity but many students ended up compromising their learning. To ensure that this will not happen again in the coming school year, the Portuguese government has announced some measures.

The Digital School will play an important role in the coming years. It is essential that its implementation be carried out, ensuring, on the one hand, the interests of schools, parents and students, but also preventing future dependencies on suppliers and safeguarding the interests of the State. This is done with tools that respect the Open Standards, including the standards defined in the National Digital Interoperability Regulation (in Portuguese, Regulamento Nacional de Interoperabilidade Digita).

In ESOP's understanding, an Open Digital School should guarantee:

  • freedom of choice of equipment and operating systems
  • the freedom to choose web browsing software (browser)
  • information security of equipment in use by students

To this end, two guidelines should be followed:

  • preferences for web applications with multi browser compatibility
  • preference for open source applications

In this sense, ESOP proposes some solutions that are already on the market, fully aligned with the guidelines suggested above:

Videoconferencing and web chat
Distance learning

What has been verified is that despite the existence of solutions compatible with the interests of the State, during the COVID-19 crisis, collaboration tools based on proprietary software proliferated. In addition to the lack of transparency and the tendency for higher cost in this type of solutions, some of the platforms used revealed successive security problems, which jeopardized users' privacy. If, on the one hand, the use of these types of applications is a legitimate individual option, the same cannot be said if such use is imposed by the State.

Open Source solutions offer more security and evolve more quickly, since the code is open and reviewed by communities. In addition, web applications that do not require installation and operate in the security context of the web browser also pose a lower risk.

There are already good examples of governments that have chosen the responsible choice that Open Source represents, as is the case with the French government that developed a platform based on Open Source software to ensure that all stakeholders within the education system have the necessary tools for the distance learning (more details of this initiative here).

ESOP is available to support the Digital School transition strategy through many years of experience in digitizing various types of institutions.