Interest in the use of technology in education has gained prominence in recent years and this could be attributed to the recognition that technology has major effects on our everyday lives, the economy and education. There is now an incredible massive usage of internet in learning and this has significantly improved learning.
Prior to a few beliefs that, sharing and giving of information does not and can’t lessen the amount of information you have. The use of Open source software has increased and its impact is felt in various ways in education as can be seen from the multitude of Open Source Software applications now available for learning.
What is Open Source?
Open source are applications, which are available to most people for use, for other changes, free of charge.
These are just a few examples of Open Source Software that are used in education.
- Productivity suite like word processors, spreadsheets and presentation software and for this purpose Microsoft Office package is the most widely used.
- Firefox, Mozilla and Chrome are free and open source web browsers.
- Multimedia programs like image editors, audio and video editors and diagramming software like SmartDraw
- Managed Learning Environment (MLE) is becoming popular daily and the most common is WebCT (Blackboard).
Its Effects on E-Learning
Using Open Source ensures online contents are solid, and quality and institutions benefit from the knowledge of other people and get their works shared on a broader global platform.
There is a huge benefit of Open Source for users because they will have access to world class and advanced software without the need to pay a lot for it.
It is cheaper and offered at no cost to users and do not cover any extra copy when downloading therefore, it allows users to extend the life span of their previous hardware and limit the need for constant replacement.
Computer science educators can use it to seek new channels, methods and technologies to teach their students. They strongly believed that “OSS had the capacity to expand research work and much larger projects. Students can use the open source code to learn software development.
Better access to software is proven by open access and provision of comparable replacements to almost every package available. Better access to networks means for instance city-wide free wifi. Access to Information/Media is reshaped by successful services where individuals can license share and distribute their own media.
The access to these tools enables the students to have a successful course and the connections and update created on existing software will be long-lasting.
Negative Effects of Open Source.
The biggest factor creating limitations and problems are the authorities deciding the type of tools that are to be used in education. Some participants in educational institutions are highly resistant to the change from proprietary software to open technologies and people also restrict the idea of using OSS in education are not only the administration but also the end-users. If a globally networked teacher wants to change the style of teaching, he/she will face strong resistance
Are people willing to deviate from norm and leave Microsoft Office to Open office? I guess it will be difficult. The challenge of changing the mind-set of the concerned group to openness is also a big problem in the use of Open source. These changes affect staff collaboration, school resources, pedagogy and technological infrastructure.
After using certain proprietary products for a while, initiating changes to OSS may be met with resistance because of contractual obligations and unwillingness to change which may prove difficult to overcome or requires a great deal of negotiation and tolerance for the differences to be resolved.
In conclusion, it is important to note that when considering adoption of OSS to consider hidden costs which may not be initially present. Free does not necessarily mean without costs and before adoption, one have to cautiously take into account the long-term implications of using Open Source Software such as availability of support when needed and technical expertise in case of customization to meet institution’s specific needs.