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Open Source


Open source (making available source code (the programming language the software was written in) to others without charge) is an interesting concept that has many implications for education. With open source, many programmers contribute to the development of a software program - ensuring (in theory) a bug-free version of software that is not intended for financial gain or proprietary ownership.

The concept of open source in education is based on two dimensions:

  • IT - the traditional grounds for open source. Allows schools to access and implement cost-effective technology.
  • Course development. As institutions make course resources available without charge (as MIT has), the assumption is that the course resources can be used and enhanced by the larger community.

Open source in education is still very much a theory. The concept of learning resources developed through the work of many people has promise - but it also requires a substantial deviation from current approaches. Many educators define their value by the knowledge they "own" (i.e. copyright resources). If these resources, however, are made freely available (like source code in software development) the prospect of creating a more developed resource may be realized.


MIT OpenCourseWare Initiative
"OpenCourseWare looks counter-intuitive in a market-driven world. It goes against the grain of current material values. But it really is consistent with what I believe is the best about MIT. It is innovative. It expresses our belief in the way education can be advanced -- by constantly widening access to information and by inspiring others to participate."
This initiative shocked many people in education - challenging the view that content is property of the institution that developed it. MIT committed to making all of its course resources available free of charge to any user, anywhere in the world. For more information, read the Fact Sheet.

Open Knowledge Initiative
"The Open Knowledge Initiative is defining an open architectural specification to be used for the development of educational related software...It will simplify the methods of assembly, delivery and access to educational technology resources, while creating a large collaborative community."

Open Source Education Foundation
"The Open Source Education Foundation's purpose to enhance k-12 education through the use of technologies and concepts derived from The Open Source and Free Software movement."

"Schoolforge's mission is to unify independent organizations that advocate, use, and develop open resources for primary and secondary education. Schoolforge is intended to empower member organizations to make open educational resources more effective, efficient, and ubiquitous by enhancing communication, sharing resources, and increasing the transparency of development. Schoolforge members advocate the use of open source and free software, open texts and lessons, and open curricula for the advancement of education and the betterment of humankind."

Open Source Schools
"To foster the adoption and successful use of free and open source solutions in education."

Open Source Initiative
"The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing."
Good model for educators to review and adapt.

O'Reilly - Open Source Resources
Good listing of various open source software.

Open Source Developers Network
"OSDN sites offer IT news, collaboration, development tools, distribution and discussion channels, cutting-edge editorial, and ongoing education and evangelism among the IT and Open Source community."


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