Future of Education Technology is quite unlike other industries. It has its personal processes and a different set of demands. Most industrial proprietary application vendors develop their applications focused on a wider domain spread across industries. This, academics complain, creates a distinct disconnect between computer software vendors and the end-customers in academia.
To overcome these shortcomings, the education business started searching to “open supply” as an alternate model. Around a decade back, institutions began debating total cost of ownership in adopting an open source based neighborhood method vis-à-vis proprietary applications, viability of open supply primarily based small business models, sustainability and safety difficulties.
The results of community created open source computer software is rather nicely established. Linux and Apache are ample proof of its accomplishment. A related trend, although not that widespread in its reach, can be traced to the improvement of neighborhood projects in education like the Moodle and Sakai.
By way of the course of its formative years, the open supply neighborhood based strategy in education has developed several option models. Some of these models and schools of believed have thrived and been implemented successfully across a significant spectrum of the market. Progress and accomplishment in open supply projects like the Sakai, Moodle, Kuali, uPortal, Shibboleth, and several a lot more are being closely watched by the sector.
Neighborhood Supply Model
A single school of believed believes that open source sharing is extra a philosophical strategy than a viable alternative. The adoption of open source in larger education seems to suggest otherwise. FLOSS (Cost-free/Libre and Open Supply Application) communities are thriving properly in finding out environments also.
The FLOSS model has been extensively employed in initiatives like the MIT OpenCourseWare and Open Source Biology. Project Gutenberg, the Wikipedia, The Open Dictionary project are prime examples of how open supply has been effectively adapted to education initiatives.
In a neighborhood source project, several institutions come with each other to companion in the project. All partners contribute financially as properly as in employing human sources for the work. In the early stages, the partnering institutions give all design and style and improvement efforts and only in subsequent stages is the project opened to the broader neighborhood. This way, the initial help is secured and the institutions have a substantial influence in deciding how the application is modeled and made.
The initial focus of neighborhood supply projects is on collaboration involving institutions. The concentrate in the crucial 1st stages is therefore to form a typical financial outlook and an suitable administrative framework rather than forming a neighborhood around a shared code. Most community based open supply projects slowly migrate to open supply in the later stages.
The Sakai project, for instance, started as a joint work in between four institutions (Michigan, Indiana, MIT and Stanford). The initial agenda was to set up a framework of common ambitions that would generate acceptable application based on an agreed list of objectives. The scope for participation was later improved by forming the Sakai Educational Partners Plan (SEPP), whereby other institutions can join and participate in the community for a modest fee.
The Existing Landscape
An education enterprise like any organization has its personal needs ranging from resource arranging to budgeting. Additionally, they have common requirements like the want to integrate with economic aid applications of the government, multiple payroll cycles, and student details systems (SIS) that deal with admissions, grades, transcripts, student records as properly as billing. All these get in touch with for robust ERP systems. Until lately, colleges and universities mostly rely on either custom-created systems that are a lot more than 15 years old, or have transitioned to industrial merchandise from vendors like Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft or vendors like SunGard that are geared towards the larger education market.
Kuali Financials was borne due to the lack of open supply options Enterprise applications in the greater education sector are comprised of a mix of some proprietary application vendors and some important open source community initiatives. PeopleSoft, Oracle, SunGard and Datatel are some important vendors that supply tightly integrated ERP packages for the education sector.
Recent consolidation in the industry, like the acquisition of PeopleSoft by Oracle and of WebCT, Angel, etc by Blackboard, has caused considerable unease in the education fraternity. The concern stems from the fear that the trend of consolidation would lead to the monopoly of a handful of important vendors. The plans of these vendors to provide tightly integrated systems heightens the worry that this will deliver an unfair leverage to these vendors as it would extend the community’s dependence on them.