Selecting Open Source Software for Use in Schools

Selecting Open Source Software for Use in Schools

Kathryn Moyle (University of Canberra, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-999-1.ch048
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Schools are places where the choices made about computing technologies not only reflect their technical requirements but also reflect the philosophical priorities directing those choices. Schools can deploy a startling range of software (i.e., operating systems, databases, office productivity software, and applications software) for specifc teaching and learning purposes. Applications software deployed in schools must be suitable for use by students who are young and often have limited reading and fine motor skills. Back-end software must be robust enough to handle hundreds and sometimes thousands of users concurrently. One issue that faces schools interested in deploying open source software is the number of choices available; there is a wide variety of open source software that is suitable for use in schools. It is intended that this chapter provide readers with entry points to selecting open source software by identifying criteria that can be used by schools to shortlist potential open source software appropriate for their local environments.

Key Terms in this Chapter

License Management: The process of ensuring that the legal requirements specified in any one software license are met by the users in an organization.

Public Good: Goods or services provided in the public interest and in which the processes undertaken to provide a public good do not inhibit other people’s freedoms.

Values: Principles to which an individual or organization subscribes.

Socially Constructed: The process used by entities, agencies, organizations, or other groups of people that enables goods and services to be created, invented, or produced through understood social processes created by the members of that group of people.

Interoperability: The ability of products (in this case, software) to work together seamlessly.

Schools: Institutions organized by groups within a society to educate younger members of that society. School buildings are the traditional places in which such learning occurs; however, the necessity to physically attend school is starting to change with the advent of the Internet.

Professional Development: The process of learning undertaken to build the capacity of people working in a particular occupation or organization.

Pedagogy: The processes of teaching children.

Infrastructure: The structural components that together contribute to a full structure or organization. The term infrastructure often is used to refer to the physical elements of an entity such as a school but also refers to an information technology infrastructure that includes the hardware and software to create the system or structure.

Beta Release: The stage of software development in which all the features in their initial form have been implemented. Only bugs are fixed at this stage. In the OSS development cycle, beta releases of software are released widely in order that bugs can be identified and fixed rapidly.

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