Educational Technology

October 30, 2011

Some Thoughts About Educause 2011, FOSS, and Experimentation in Open Source

Filed under: Educational Technology — admin @ 12:35 am

By George Williams, Chronicle of Higher Ed

I’ve often heard it said “Well, the software may be free, but you’ll have to pay people to maintain it.” And to that my response is, “We already employ those people. They currently spend their time maintaining the commercial software our campuses have purchased. It’s not going to increase our costs to eliminate the money we spend on that commercial software.” I’d like to see more campuses open to the idea of experimentation: don’t abandon your commercial LMS, but allow faculty to try out other possibilities. (And how about we stop referring to this sort of experimentation as faculty “going rogue” and start referring to it as faculty exercising academic freedom? We choose our own texts, we design our own assignments, we construct our own syllabi, and we should be able to choose our own educational technology, no?) Students won’t be as confused by the resulting diversity of interfaces as is often feared. They do just fine having to learn how to use different databases in the library or different information resources out there on the Web. If enough faculty and students find that they prefer free and open source tools to the ones you’ve been paying for… then maybe you should stop paying.

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