E-learning applications are becoming commonplace in most higher education institutions, and some institutions have implemented open source applications such as course management systems and electronic portfolios. These e-learning applications initiatives are the first step to moving away from proprietary software such as Blackboard and WEBCT toward open source. With open source, higher education institutions can easily and freely audit their systems. This chapter presents evaluation criteria that was used by a higher education institution to evaluate an open source e-learning system.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Free Software (FS): Software that can be used, studied, copied, modified, and redistributed without any restrictions, as defined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
Evaluation Criteria: The factors that individuals track/follow in order to determine the effectiveness of an item being assessed for quality.
Evaluation: To assess the effectiveness of something according to pre-existing criteria.
Functionality: Degree to which an item operates or can be operated as intended by its designers/creators.
E-Learning: Education delivered electronically, typically over the Internet but also via a network or stand-alone computer. E-learning is computer-enabled transfer of skills and knowledge. E-learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audiotape, videotape, satellite TV, and CD-ROM.
Open Source Software (OSS): Software distributed both as source code and in compiled form. It cannot discriminate against any field of endeavor, group, or individual. It must come with a license that does not restrict derivative works and must not restrict any party from selling or giving away the code. Further, rights to use the code cannot be tied to a specific program and cannot restrict any other software or program to be of a certain origin or type (Open Source, 2005 AU26: The in-text citation "Open Source, 2005" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).