The use of 'open source' software to deliver global health education solutions used by schools (grades K-12), community colleges, universities, and a range of other education and training organizations is growing steadily.
Organizations in every industry are already starting to use a wide range of 'open source' software solutions. These include such noteworthy products such as Linux, Apache, Open Office, mySQL, Mozilla FireFox, and many others. In addition to these technical or office software applications, there are a growing number of outstanding 'open source' education products that are now widely used.
Some key findings from a report entitled "Best Practices in Open Source Higher Education: The State of Open Source Software" issued by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness in 2006:
· Almost 60% of higher education institutions have acquired and implemented open source infrastructure products, e.g. Linux, Apache, MySQL, Open Office, etc.
· Open source education applications or tools being most considered by universities include: Sakai (28%), Moodle (23%), uPortal (20%), OSPI (12%), OKI (10%), SCT Luminis Platform (9%), and Kuali (8%)
· Approximately one-third of the market (32%) has not yet given serious consideration to open source. This group is heavily weighted toward the smaller institutions.
The following are some of the key open source education software solutions and knowledge bases that educational institutions need to pay attention to:
· OpenCourseWare is a collaborative, open source educational content solution. For more detail, visit http://www.ocwconsortium.org/toolkit
· Sakai is open source software for education, research and related scholarly activities. Visit http://sakaiproject.org/sakai-foundation
· Kuali is a suite of open source administrative software modules for use in higher education. See http://www.kuali.org
· Moodle is an open source Course Management or Learning Management System. It is a web application that educators can also use to create effective online learning sites. Visit http://moodle.org
· Connexions contains educational materials at all levels, organized in small modules that can be connected into larger courses. See http://cnx.org
The American Public University System (APUS) is the largest university in West Virginia. It is a for profit academic institution with an enrollment of over 60,000 students. The university recently decided to acquire and use the Sakai system, following in the foot steps of several other leading institutions, e.g. Johns Hopkins, Georgia Tech, and Stanford.
Finally, there are a number of online journals and news sites that specifically deal with free and open source software (FOSS) that might be of interest:
· International Journal of Open Education Resources - http://journal.eduforge.org/index.php/eduforge
· OSS Watch - http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk
· SchoolForge - http://www.schoolforge.net
· OpenSource Magazine - http://opensource.sys-con.com
· Open Source Enterprise Magazine - http://www.o3magazine.com
Are you using 'open source' software products in your education or training organization? Tell us a bit about them.