I was just reading “The Case for Open Source: Open Source has Made Significant Leaps in Recent Years. What does it have to Offer Education?” by Miguel Guhlin, in Technology & Learning, February 2007. The article discusses how open source has succeeded out in the world, and how educational institutions, including K-12 and universities can benefit from this technology. The author ponders how education may be revolutionized if educators were allowed to modify and adapt the content of curriculum to their specific needs, and then share this information with others, just as it occurs with open source. Another good reason to embrace open source in educational institutions revolves around all the money they can save in the process. With open source schools wouldn’t have to purchase expensive software, and then have to pay licensing fees. In a large school district this can add up to millions saved.As enthusiastic as Guhlin is about the possibilities, he also acknowledges that the transition would require a lot of work. Educators and staff in general will need training in these new systems, along with explanations as to what exactly open source is, and what benefits it brings. Another obstacle can be IT support, since, currently there aren’t too many IT professionals specializing in open source. Yet the solution to this seems to already be here; online tutorials. The website NewsForge offers a variety of articles relating to open source along with case studies, as well as tutorials on how to implement this technology and how to use it. There is also an entire blog titled OpenOffice.org dedicated to teaching you how to use OpenOffice.
Open Source in it’s variety of existences may not have yet ironed out all the glitches, but the ability to expand it’s usage and create entirely new applications, more than compensate for this. Besides, the code is public so changes and adaptations can be made on the spot!
(This post was originally used for my Technology class.)