Open Source Software Making its way Into Education Jun08

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Open Source Software Making its way Into Education

The open source software model started by Linux has made its way beyond computers and technical devices and into general areas like business and security. It’s now making its presences felt in the field of education. What has been the dream of many education advocates–free learning for all–is inching closer to that reality with open source software. Education organizations and some places for higher learning are adopting the open source software model to better serve students and spread word of new research and discoveries. The consequences of these implementations are immense and very hopeful. The best, most advanced information out there may no longer be available to top private schools, but to everybody. One educational area that will be greatly affected by the open source software model is textbooks. Developed with open source software new textbooks, aptly named open source textbooks, are being incorporated by major universities that are meant to be available to any school and student, with the ability to be changed. Researchers can add or modify content, and they can be customized for students. The common advantage of open source software is present here: cost. Although not free, yet, open source textbooks, even printed editions, are considerably cheaper than their mainstream counterparts. The need to consistently purchase new, revised editions is now very limited. And these online books and other educational files can easily be shared with open source software like Ares Galaxy and larger files transferred with FTP software like File Zilla. While the cost of educational tools drop with open source software, their reach vastly expands. In the example of open source textbooks, they can be used by any school and manipulated to fit their specific needs. Another alternative is by following the path of wiki communities. Compiled onto a single open source site, anyone with a drive to learn can access educational-related material from math to biology to chemistry without leaving the house. Here too, information can be easily updated by the community and sorted into subjects relevant to the user. With its wide access, open source software has the potential to equalize the disparity seen in many education levels. This is something that can then launch the model to even more unexpected areas.