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Hi Ian:

Have you tested this on students/kids? I would be interested to hear of
the results if you had done this.

Informally the feedback I get is that it's easy enough to teach young
children how to make basic shapes and label diagrams etc in either Draw
or Inkscape. Unfortunately many schools have already bought Fireworks,
Corel, Xara, Serif Draw etc so it will take time to get them to migrate.
A big problem is teacher thinking that Paint is a drawing program! That
is more of a problem than any skills limitations in the children. We
really should have higher expectations of children. They then live up to
them rather than down to some low level limits artificially imposed by

Thanks. In my 18 years of experience at elementary level and being the 
Teacher-Admin designate at school level for the same amount of time (my 
volunteer position duties was to network with teachers and help them use 
the right tools for the right jobs), 90% or even more of paint/draw work 
was to print easy shapes for geometric work or to touch up photos. 
Touching up photos has easily overpassed the geometric work on school 
computers. We try to encourage kids to use vector programmes but their 
needs are clearly those of photo-retouch and .jpg work.

All this begs the question of what learning we are trying to achieve. I
have two key goals in ICT

1. Prepare them for change because that is one thing that is certain.
2. Develop the skills and good habits needed early so they don't have to
unlearn stuff.

For 1. they have to use a range of applications. One of the biggest
problems with MSO in schools is that it becomes the only thing taught.
Children are not educated, they are trained in using an office suite -
that would also be true of OOo/LO if it was used in the same way. 

Touching up photos IMHO might have surpassed design work but is that
really educationally desirable? Look at how often we need to communicate
graphically. Draw diagrams in science, simple plans such as layout of a
room or garden. I'd say the reason we teach bit map editing is because
it is superficially easy, Windows only comes with such tools and
teachers generally don't have the design skills themselves. Neither of
these reasons is particularly sound educationally. 

I am not sure if this makes a difference as to which tool should be 
included in the suite.

Back in the 80s when Acorn computers were in most UK schools, a good
vector drawing program and its engine were built into the OS. This
encouraged 3rd party developers to eg provide vector export to
spreadsheet tables, graphics etc. You could export a graphic generated
from any third party spreadsheet in a vector format, embed it in a text
document, rotate it and scale it without loss of resolution. You could
take such a graphic into a drawing program ungroup its components and
edit it. All of this is possible if you have a standard vector format
that is open and documented. This was back in 1988/9 over 20 years ago
so this is one example of how Windows and commercial licensing has held
back progress. We are so used to it now we just assume that is the way
it has to be. 

If LibO had a standard and openly published svg engine (and Inkscape
already has it) just think of the possibilities. You can already access
many vector routines in Inkscape from scripted commands so a longer term
goal would be to make a LibO UI that fit the svg engine and documented
it so third parties could write applets that could access the routines
for specific tasks. eg rendering charts and graphs as svg files to
export from Calc.

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