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Open Source Software For Education (Mel Mc Intyre) Open App
The 4C Initiative - increasing
digital content capacity for
Open Source Software
Free and Open Source Software
Free/Libre Open Source Software FLOSS
Open Source can help to increase digital content capacity
for education on a global scale
There are potential benefits There are barriers to overcome
• OSS and Open Commons go hand • All IT needs support and the
in hand in making both the content
and the delivery mechanism education sector has limited budget
• Limited support from local supplier
• Better value from use of open
source solutions with zero license sector due to poor business model
cost allowing you to focus budgets
• Education has complex
on other areas
• Reduced license administration and requirements – administration,
ease of updating software curriculum, infrastructure – difficult
• The models of community and
to find a focus
participation are already proven and
come naturally to the education • Poor understanding of OSS coupled
with a 'procurement/tendering'
• The participative and interactive
nature of available applications are mentality
attractive to our young people
What is Open Source Software
Software just like any other but free of license costs
Software that comes with a license that provides the user
with certain freedoms
− freedom to use for any purpose, freedom to copy the software, freedom
to view and modify the source code, freedom re-distribute modified
Open Source Software comes in many varieties
− Infrastructure – Linux Operating System – email – firewalls – Content
Management – Edubuntu desktop
− Administration – Moodle Course Management – Centre SIS (Student
information) – Schooltool (Scheduling)
− Applications – OpenOffice – Gcompris – Qcad - Scribus
− Systems software – Directories(OpenLDAP) – Statistics(AWStats) -
How does this work
• Maybe 70% of software available was not
written by traditional software companies . .
people not in the business of selling software
• Government, Universities, Community
projects, Google Summer of Code, capable
individuals all release software for others to use
• New business models centred on service and
support rather than licensed intellectual
property are rapidly evolving
A new force – The undeniable
market trend toward Open Source
Forrester report on Open Source in Europe (Dec 2005) reports that
− 72% of firms claim lower TCO & lower acquisition costs
− 40% of European companies already use some sort of open source solution
(56% in USA). 45% in mission critical areas (55% in USA)
IDC/Forfas report – July 2006
− WW Software revenue (Linux/OSS) CAGR % of 48% for applications and 34%
for application development and deployment software.
− Predicted 2009 WW revenue of almost $17bn with at least the same in services
CIO Insight reports that
− 81% of companies have deployed or are considering deploying open source
− 72% plan to expand its use
− 65% say open source has sparked innovation within their IT
Minimises vendor lock-in and proprietary systems
− Avoiding vendors branding, product release and revenue generation
Minimises capital expenditure and ongoing costs
− no upfront royalty for license to use
− No annual royalties for user seats etc.
More control of overall IT strategy
− Open source projects tend to use standards for interoperability
− Open Source projects allow organisations to influence the roadmap
− Reduces risk of obsolescence
Open Source promotes innovation & ensures customisation
− Through availability of source code
− Through the free access to community ideas and modification
− Quicker to add features
More specifically . .
Avoid being product/brand specific
MS Office for ECDL/ICDL – could be OpenOffice
Web CT for course management – could be Moodle,
Sakai, Dokios . .
Photoshop and Illustrator for graphics – could be Gimp
ArcGIS for Geography – could be Qgis
SPSS for Statistics – could be R Project
AutoCAD for CAD – could be Qcad
Enabling an e-Learning culture
The adoption of Open Source systems and models is conducive to
the creation of an effective e-Learning culture and “participative
Modern Open Source idioms
− Collaboration/Participation and inclusiveness
− Innovation and building on the work of others
− Openness and sharing
− Flexibility and responsiveness
The collaborative/community model is proven to work and is familiar
− Children and teenagers are exposed to the internet and
social/community websites from an early age. They like and
participate in these sites. The community model can be emulated
and harnessed in an educational context.
Quote from a teacher . .
For me, my involvement with opensource began when I
realized that my students needed to use a much wider
range of software than . . .
I didn't want them or their parents to have to fork out any
more money, I know what its like when my kids come
home with a letter from school and I end up being 20 to
50 quid lighter.
. . but more than that, as I got more involved, I realized
how much better it was to give them tools that they could
modify to their own spec rather than use what someone
thinks is best, even if that person is me and I do know
what's best (ahem).
Risks of not using Open Source
From an education perspective there are risks associated with not adopting
Open Source which can be summarised by the phrase “avoid lifetime vendor
lock-in for students”
This lock-in is real and happens when students and teachers associate ICT
usage and consumption only with a particular vendor.
The focus is on a vendor specific application rather than essential and more
generic ICT skills.
Ideally the use of Open Source technologies would encourage students to
− Have a critical point of view regarding different software solutions
− Understand the differences between open and proprietary solutions
− Become active contributors to an open source project or tool
Adapted from EU Study on the Economic Impact of Open Source on Innovation
and competitiveness of the ICT Sector in the EU. Rishab Ghosh, Nov 2006
Barriers to using OSS
• Access to affordable support – onsite configuration, problem solving, usage
– Schools often do not have budget for any support – OSS or proprietary
– There is generally less support in the business space for OSS
– Software often covered under capital budget – consulting support often
• Local expertise – most successes seem to built on the commitment of individuals
rather than commitment from the 'system' -
• Too much software – how to choose what is useful
– Similar issue to using 'free demonstration' versions of proprietary
applications - it takes time and commitment to evaluate
– The benefit over 'demonstration ' software is that you can keep the OSS
software should it fit your need
• No vendor push – nobody selling, limited marketing collateral, the business model
has not developed well in the education space (maybe too difficult to define
• Parents expectations – OpenOffice versus MS Office
Open Source project: Edubuntu
− Operating system designed for schools
− Designed for fast and easy setup without technical expertise
− Delivers the effective Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP)
allows you to boot thin clients from an Edubuntu LTSP server.
lowers hardware costs by enabling the use of older machines as thin clients, as well as
reduced administration overhead by having only to install and maintain the software on the
− Early learning environment (Gcompris)
− Educational games and activities from Tux4Kids and KDEEdu projects
− full office suite, plus applications for instant messaging, graphics, sound and video.
− Access to thousands of other high quality open source programs at no cost.
Open Source project: Moodle
− Moodle is a free software e-learning platform and Course Management
− Moodle is designed to help educators create online courses with
opportunities for rich interaction. Its open source license and modular
design means that many people can develop additional functionality, and
development is undertaken by a globally diffuse network of commercial
and non-commercial users, spearheaded by the Moodle company based
in Perth, Western Australia.
− Moodle: Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment is a
free and open-source e-learning software platform, also known as a
Course Management System, Learning Management System, or Virtual
Learning Environment. It has a significant user base with 45,721
registered and verified sites, containing 32 million users in 3 million
courses (as of January, 2010).
− Moodle is designed to help educators create online courses with a focus
on interaction and collaborative construction of content.
Open Source project: OpenOffice
− Free software office suite of products used extensively throughout the world
− Includes functionality such as word processor, spreadsheet, multi-media
presentations, database and others.
− Provides a familiar look and feel and is easy to use
− Is compatible with other major office suites
− It has a significant user base and is available in 80 languages
− It provides all the necessary functionality for teaching IT skills and has ECDL/ICDL
approved courseware available from Blackrock Publishing.
What can you do . .
• Teacher support organisations could promote best of
breed for some categories – course management,
office, administration . . .
– Could interact with developer community
• Most applications supported on Windows and Mac
so not necessary to learn Linux . . try one at a time
• No license costs means educators can collaborate
between organisations without commercial
barriers . . work with other schools or institutions
• Low cost ICT across the curriculum – Tralee Ireland
• Course Management with Moodle at Perins
• Social networking with Elgg at Alton Convent
• Cost effective curriculum delivery at Skegness
• Mount Tamar Special School - whole school
• Painting for Infants at Holmfirth Primary
OpenForum Europe – OFE
We are a not-for-profit, independent organisation launched in March 2002 to
accelerate, broaden and strengthen the use of Open Source Software (OSS)
in business and government. OFE is supported by major IT suppliers and
works closely with the European Commission and National Governments,
both direct and via National Associates.
What we do!
OFE promotes informed debate on the pluses and minuses of Open Source
and Open Standards. We make input on European and National IT policy,
hold bi-annual briefings with EU Commission organisations, speak at
conferences and generally promote awareness of the issues and activities of
Non executive director of OFE since 2005 and founder and chair of an OFE
partner in Ireland
Founder and Managing Director of OpenApp, a software development and
support company since 2002 focusing of OSS solutions in business, health
and education sectors.