The Use of Open Source and Free Software in Education: November 6-26, 2006

Why Haven't You Tried Open Source Software?

Why Haven't You Tried Open Source Software?

by Heather Ross -
Number of replies: 2
First, there are some wonderful things coming out of this conversation so far. If you haven't had a chance to post a comment or ask a question, please don't hesitate to do so. This seminar is obviously very lively and multi-dimensional, but the more the merrier.

Now, so far we've heard a lot from people who have tried open source software, but I'd like to hear from those of you who haven't. What has stopped you from using it? Is it even talked about at your institution? Have there been any external barriers stopping you?
In reply to Heather Ross

Re: Why Haven't You Tried Open Source Software?

by Eric Hoffer -
While I've made use of some open source resources (firefox and wikis), I would like to do something much more involved, and am trying to determine if (and which) OSS might be best for what I'm trying to do.

What follows is a query I posted to yahoo groups I participate in, and I thought this group would good to discuss with as well:

I'm looking for a resource/application that enables community interaction and collaboration through integrated use of a wiki along with email exchanges and archival. The mail archive should ideally be in a tree format (as is the case with this environment), rather than blog type entry and comment format. Ideally, email entries would be taggable to link to corresponding topics within the wiki.

Moodle itself has been suggested.  And because of longer term desire to make interconnections between "communities" (social networking with personal profiling) and across topical boundaries, building something using Drupal has also been suggested (though its wiki capability isn't quite there).

Can anyone suggest what resources might be appropriate to either use or build with?
In reply to Heather Ross

OS Project Maturity vs Institution Capabilities

by Sylvia Currie -
Heather asks to hear from people who haven't tried open source software. At the institutional level it often seems too huge and too risky to introduce and support OSS. So if you're not using OSS at your workplace that could be why!

Last year I attended an interesting presentation by Scott Leslie at CADE on making good open source choices. His framework considers institutional capabilities (includes experience and skill level, as well as willingness to learn), and the maturity of open source projects (evidence includes age of project, number of developers, activity level, etc). The point of the tool is to assist in the institutional decision-making process, and also to identify risks so they can be addressed early.

Later in the year I joined Scott and others in a round table discussion at WCET on open source learning management systems, and I applied Scott's framework retroactively to our experiences implementing Moodle at NVIT. The outcome of that analysis was that despite some high areas of risk, the institutional decision to go with Moodle was sound because:
  • Moodle ranked very high on the project maturity scale
  • NVIT scored high in the willingness to learn category, and on the interest in using the software
  • NVIT implemented Moodle as is, then institutional capabilities grew over time after adopting Moodle.
Scott has some information about the framework for choosing the right OS project here on his EdTechPost blog, including a link to the CADE presentation and a link to Karin van den Berg's thesis on this topic from Tilburg University in the Netherlands.