Open Source Made Simple
An introduction to open source in education
What is open source?

Open source as a concept is a project development model and philosophy that has been applied to a wide variety of disciplines.  The term came from the world of computer software where it describes a set of intellectual property rights as applied to a piece of computer code.  That chunk of code may be a completely functional program or a small snippet.  It also implies a community development model for that code.  To fully understand the implications and potential educational applications of this licensing model it is important to understand the end goals and underlying intent of the developers. 

    Open source software is generally written by a group of developers.  Large programs can have hundred of authors contributing code.  Various altruistic, learning, and self serving goals motivate these programmers.  The end products are software programs that are free for anyone to use or modify.  These bits of software are widely used in server rooms.  Since 1986 a majority of the web servers that make up the internet are run on Apache, an open source solution.  

This Free / Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS or FOSS) movement has produced many free applications that can replace expensive proprietary solutions while still fully meeting the needs of students.   Imagine if all stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, etc) in the learning process had access to the all the latest versions of all the same software tools, for free.  Sound good?  Read onů