Open source is one the most innovative platforms for creating software as well as coding. What makes it special is the fact that it can be freely utilized since the name itself suggests that it is completely ‘open’, ready to be distributed by anybody. Users can go through it, manipulate it and also share it with others that makes it really economical. No wonder, online education is an industry that has been largely benefitted by open source software.
Let us read about some of the most commonly used open source solutions that have contributed to the field of online education:
1. Moodle: Recognized as one of the most effective open source software, Moodle is employed by innumerable educational institutions all across the world. Not only is it extremely secure, but it is really adaptable and comprehensive that makes it ideal for learning programs. Generally, Moodle is used for the purpose of designing specialized online courses. Schools, colleges and institutes imparting corporate training sessions have all started employing this software.
2. Sakai CLE: Enriched with several impressive features, Sakai CLE is an interesting open source option that is embraced by a large number of academic institutions. Sakai is used by educators for imparting lessons to students as well as by research personnel. Some of the most renowned universities and colleges from around the globe boast of this software. Characteristics like ‘live chat’, ‘online testing’, ‘gradebook’ are some of the features that has made it popular.
3. Canvas: Canvas is yet another important open source software that had been built using an online application named ‘Ruby on Rails’. Initially, the software was known as ‘Instructure Inc.’ Canvas was first examined at various institutions including Brigham Young University and Utah State University before it was officially launched. The software integrates CSS3, HTML5 and JQuery to bring about an effective user interface.
Let us discuss some of the ways in which open source software has proven to be a boon for the online education process:
Lower price: Generally, a majority of universities have to shell out an exorbitant amount of cash to software developers to gain the right to use their products. However, open source software does not have any licensing fees and is completely free of cost and also, they do not have any production cost. Therefore, academic institutes can easily save large sums by opting for such convenient software.
More adaptable: Another reason why open source software is in high demand these days is due to the fact that it tends to be more flexible than conventional software. Users can easily modify the former by adding new tools and features to it as no additional license fees are charged for this purpose. This also enables third party organizations to customize the software to meet their own requirements.
Continuous development: Since software developers and computer programmers collaborate to enhance the quality of the open source software, each of these products is likely to be in a state of continuous improvement. Programmers belonging to different companies readily contribute towards helping the open source software become more refined and adaptable for a greater number of purposes than originally envisaged. This is highly beneficial for students, educators as well as academic institutions. In addition, it is also helpful for online educational resources like Coursera and much more.
Absence of monopolies: When you have started using open source software, you would find it more convenient to switch to a different software that is also free of cost. That is simply because open source software does not restrict the user’s choices to a particular company.
At the same time, although open source software technologies tend to have many advantages, there are certain issues associated with them.
Here’s a brief look at two of the major letdowns related to the use of open source software:
1. Unlike conventional paid software, open source software does not offer any kind of warranty and is liable to be risky when used online.
2. Many educational institutes such as schools, colleges and universities might use one or more type of proprietary software. In such cases, using any sort of open source software might prove to be incompatible with the former.
Having said that, the benefits of using open source technologies certainly outnumber any disadvantages, which is again a major reason for their rapidly rising popularity.