Open Source Issues for Higher Education James Dalziel Professor of Learning Technology Macquarie ELe - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Open Source Issues for Higher Education James Dalziel Professor of Learning Technology Macquarie ELe


Presentation for Open Repositories 2006, University of Sydney, February 3rd, 2006 ... Sometimes collectively described as 'Free and Open Source Software' (FOSS) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Open Source Issues for Higher Education James Dalziel Professor of Learning Technology Macquarie ELe

Open Source Issues forHigher
EducationJames DalzielProfessor of Learning
Technology Macquarie E-Learning Centre Of
Excellence (MELCOE)Macquarie University
f Investigator,Australian Service for Knowledge
of Open Source Software (ASK-OSS)
du.auPresentation for Open Repositories 2006,
University of Sydney, February 3rd, 2006
  • About open source software (OSS)
  • Adoption of open source in higher education
  • OSS Case Study LAMS
  • Introducing ASK-OSS
  • Current OSS issues in higher education

About open source software
  • What is open source software?
  • Formal definition provided by the Open Source
  • Formal accreditation of licenses - OSI
  • Typical elements of open source licenses
  • Attribution
  • Publicly available source code (typically without
  • Disclaimer of all liability/warranty
  • Freedom to view, use, change and redistribute
    source code
  • Some licenses require redistribution under same

About open source software
  • A related term is free software (free as in
  • Similar, but not the same definition, as open
  • Free software includes a focus on the ethics of
    sharing open source tends to focus more on
    pragmatics of adoption
  • Sometimes collectively described as Free and
    Open Source Software (FOSS)
  • While the license is central to defining open
    source, there are other important dimensions,
    such as
  • Open development processes
  • Open source business models/sustainability of
    open source
  • Open source culture (meritocracy, open robust
    debate, etc)

About open source software
  • Open source software/free software has its
    origins deeply rooted in higher
  • Key role of universities and researchers in the
    earliest developments of software and the
    internet (MIT, Berkeley)
  • More recently, both Linux and Apache (and many
    other projects) and OSS licenses have
    university/research related origins
  • Today, some areas of higher education are open
    source, others are mostly closed, and others are
  • Mainly open E-Research software (eg Grid),
    various infrastructure
  • Mainly closed Finance/HR, Student Information,
  • Changing Learning Management Systems (LMS),

Examples of OSS in HE
  • Desktop
  • Limited operating system and office productivity
    adoption (but growing number of trials)
  • Growing browser adoption since Firefox release
  • Limited collaboration (email, calendar, etc)
  • Various niche applications (eg, encryption)

Examples of OSS in HE
  • Infrastructure
  • Apache web server dominant
  • Linux operating system widely adopted
  • MySQL and PostgresSQL becoming common databases
    for small-medium scale use
  • Tomcat, JBoss, Zope and other similar systems
    becoming common for application platforms
  • Perl/PHP/Python programming languages
  • Various open source utilities common (Eclipse
    IDE, Squid proxy cache, CAS/Libproxy/etc for
    single sign on, OpenLDAP for directory, Federated
    Identity and Access using Shibboleth, etc)

Examples of OSS in HE
  • Core education applications
  • Learning Management Systems Moodle, Sakai, .LRN,
    ATutor, etc
  • Portal uPortal
  • Content Management Systems Plone, Joomla,
  • Community systems OpenACS/.LRN, Drupal
  • Content authoring Reload, eXe
  • Repositories DSpace, Fedora, EPrints
  • Learning Design LAMS, Coppercore
  • Others Blogs, Wikis, etc

Examples of OSS in HE
  • Summary
  • Desktop limited OSS impact, some trials
  • Infrastructure significant OSS adoption,
    dominant in some areas
  • OSS Educational applications mixed
  • Limited in some areas (Finance/HR, Student
    Information Systems, Library)
  • Changing in other areas (LMS, CMS, Portal)
  • Already dominant in some (Repositories, Learning

Case Study LAMS
  • LAMS (Learning Activity Management System) is a
    new generation of e-learning software
  • Based on the evolving field of Learning Design
  • LAMS helps teachers/lecturers to create and run
    digital lesson plans
  • Sequences of content and collaborative activities
  • LAMS sequences can be shared and improved
  • LAMS Community and open source teaching
  • Originally developed as commercial software,
    shifted to an open source business model

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Case Study LAMS
  • Why was open source a good decision for LAMS?
  • Encourage rapid widespread adoption of the
    Learning Design approach and the LAMS software
  • Foster open source development of new activity
    tools (as well as extend the core platform)
  • Combines open source and open content approaches
  • LAMS as open source helps inform future open
    standards development for Learning Design
  • LAMS as open source helps avoid file format
  • Non-profit foundation www.lamsfoundation.orgComm
    ercial services www.lamsinternational.comSoftwar

Case Study LAMS
  • How will LAMS be sustainable?
  • Dual organisational structure
  • LAMS Foundation (non profit) for public funding,
    charitable grants, etc owns software, releases
    as OSS
  • LAMS International Pty Ltd (services company) for
    paid services and support (eg, hosting, tech
    support, training, custom development, custom
    content, etc)
  • Profits on services help support ongoing
  • LAMS chose the General Public License (GPL) to
    allow for the possibility of dual licensing (cf
  • Software free to all under the GPL
  • Commercial software that wants to integrate and
    distribute LAMS can pay for a non-GPL license

Case Study LAMS
  • What do commercial software companies think of
    LAMS as open source software?
  • The LAMS Building Block is a prime example of
    open source and Blackboard working together
    towards the common goal of enhancing education,"
    said Matthew Pittinsky, Chairman of Blackboard.
    "This new tool clearly demonstrates that open
    source and corporate developed/supported software
    do not and should not be mutually exclusive of
    each other but instead can work side by side to
    create an end result greater than the sum of the
    individual parts. It is tremendously exciting to
    work with LAMS to facilitate this kind of cutting
    edge functionality.
  • Blackboard Press Release, 24/1/06

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ASK-OSS Overview
  • DEST-funded project in the MERRI round of SII
  • Provides a national focal point for OSS
    assistance for E-Research
  • Advice, management, governance and dissemination
  • Modelled on the successful OSS Watch JISC
    Service at Oxford (also a partner for ASK-OSS)
  • Complementary to, but different from, open
    content initiatives such as Creative Commons
  • Software focus

ASK-OSS Priorities
  • ASK-OSS provides unbiased, pragmatic
    advice/guidance to researchers on
  • selection of appropriate OSS for research
  • choosing appropriate OSS licenses
  • management/governance for OSS development
  • (potentially) a national service for storage and
    community development of OSS (using GForge)
  • NB Does not provide formal legal advice

ASK-OSS Partners
  • Lead Macquarie University (MELCOE)
  • Experience with OSS from LAMS, MAMS, etc
  • Open Source Law
  • Specialist legal firm in OSS issues
  • Open Source Industry Association (OSIA)
  • Australias industry body for OSS
  • OSS Watch (Oxford, on behalf of JISC, UK)
  • UK Advisory Service for OSS

OSS Issues in HE
  • Business models and sustainability
  • Eg, Can I restrict my OSS to non-commercial use
  • No breaches no restriction on fields of
    endeavour (clause 6) of the Open Source
    Definition (OSI)
  • Which license should I choose for my new
  • Depends on your values, community and goals
  • Eg, GPL is most widely used, but consider its
    reciprocity clause
  • What is community source? Is it the same as open
  • For Sakai, OSPI yes the difference is the
    development model
  • My CIO wont consider OSS because there is no
  • Most OSS projects have active web support
  • As an OSS system becomes widely adopted,
    commercial services arise to provide paid support
    contracts similar to commercial support
  • Red Hat Linux, MySQL Network, Moodle Partners,
    LAMS International, etc
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