Open Source for Schools

Open source refers to software programs that are distributed with the source code. The open source license allows users the freedom to run the program for any purpose, to study and modify the program, and to freely redistribute copies of the original or modified program.

Open source is changing the nature of the software business in many settings. The open source movement is also impressive in education. With a tightened budget in schools these days, more and more schools are exploring the open source option. Many teachers and schools have embraced open source for economic, pedagogical, technological, and philosophical reasons. Open source does not require licensing fees. The technology utilizes an open architecture which is secure and reliable. Open source may offer less expensive, more reliable access, which is essential for integrating technology into school classrooms. Using open source, school can provide quality and reliable software for less money that does not require newer, more expensive computers to run it. Schools can install or upgrade software systems without costly licenses every few years.

I think open source could be one of the solutions for managing inadequate technology budgets in schools. There are many excellent open source software available for K-12 schools. SourceForge.net is an excellent site with a large open source software collection. Schools administrators, technology coordinators, and teachers should explore the open source application for teaching and learning and examine steps to implement open source solutions.

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
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4 Responses to Open Source for Schools

  1. wumoye says:

    I agree, the expense of software is outrageous. Educational setting could benefit greatly from using open source software. Just recently, my school district trashed my apple lab because the cost was to expensive and they had no one to maintain it.

    More open-ended software will allow students of all kinds to start to be creative in designing new modues that can be added to software without recreating the wheel.

  2. houbinfang says:

    Today, many students and schools know about Free Software or the great advantages it brings to education. The reasons why these open sources are popular are variable, such as budget mentioned by Dr. Yuen in this class. However, I think there are two many new tools are posed every day is also an important reason. First, any schools in the world cannot purchase all kinds of tools at any time. Second, all the tools are updating almost every day, nobody can keep up with this speed. So, open sources are not only free, but also convenient to us. Whenever you want to use these free tools you can get it.
    At the same time, people need to collect the information about open sources online. These information collection is hard work, but useful. With the help of free tools, people can finish a lot of work. Some instructors like to use free tools even their schools already purchased official version for them. I think this is because free tools can help them when these instructors are working at home.
    I benefit a lot from those free sources online. Sometimes when I am work on my project, I need to go online to search some free tools too. For example, when I try to create a website the first thing I will do is to search online for template. As we all know that we are not professional in designing these websites and finding a template can not only save time, but also making your website fancy.

  3. Andrea Howard says:

    Open source really does sound like a possible solution to technology bugdeting problems that many school districts have. One huge problem that I have particularly faced in my district regarding software usage is not having licensure for my school in the district. For example, last school year, I asked my principal to have Microsoft Office 2007 installed on my classroom computers. He informed me that our school did not purchase licensure for the software, whereas, other schools had purchased it. I never realized how specific purchasing software licensure for a specific location had to be. I had just assumed that since other schools in my district had acquired licensure, ours had access as well. Open Source would truly put an end to this dilemma. Teachers would have unlimited access to whichever software whenever they chose. It’s brilliant!

  4. Jacquelyn Johnston says:

    Open source may truly be one of the answers to the growing budget cuts that we are experiencing in education. As teachers it seems like we are required to produce more with less. The use of open source in education will allow us to pull a wide range of rich tools into the classroom in an effort to enhance learning. The fact that these teaching tools are available free of charge is enough to excite any teacher. We are very good at using “junk” items as opportunities for teaching and learning. I know as part of my units of teaching, we take apart old appliances, computers, anything that I can get my hands on to encourage active engagement in learning. It is amazing what my class can do (educationally) with the flat boxes a two inch lip around the edge, that the “Coke man” brings the canned drinks to fill his machine . I clicked on SourceForge.net to view this site with its large open source software collection. As soon as the site came up, I came across a game that I have wanted for my students, but of course have not had the funds to do so. I saw that now it is available online and that it is free. That’s pretty cool! There is not a day that goes by, that my students are not engaged with Wikipedia for information. Can you imagine a school system buying a new set of encyclopedias for a classroom? I think that educating teachers on the promise of open source is important. I plan on sharing open sources that I find beneficial in my classroom with others at my school.

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