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The Promise of Open-Source in Education.. #147988 05/17/20 03:33 PM
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Az4x4 Offline OP
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It’s no surprise that lots of universities, colleges and training schools have transitioned or are transitioning to open-source software in their learning process. Open-source culture and the concepts it brings with it helps students, professors, and entire learning communities enjoy a better, safer, more productive educational experience. No longer dependent on the tech-giants which in years past traditionally called the shots, people discover they are are free to share their ideas as they see fit while building these ideas on the free open-source work others have done.

Open-source software continues to prove itself with Higher Education Institutions in Europe. There are many reasons why that is the case. Universities are working hand in hand to develop and support open-source initiatives. The ‘Open Source University Alliance’ brings these efforts together in a well organized initiative whose goal is to help higher education institutions meet the EU’s latest demands for digital transparency and a transition to free open-source fully editable software.

This educational alliance is actively creating an open repository of source code and software to guarantee higher education access to a huge variety of open-source tools and services necessary for teaching and learning. ‘Security Above All’ is not just an empty phrase in Europe. Security plays a central role when choosing software for higher education. Following the introduction of the EU’s ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ in 2018, the requirements for processing personal data for companies that work with EU residents became far more strict, the personal data of students, teachers, professors, and educational staff no exception.

MS Office 365 was banned in German schools over privacy fears, since everything done in it ended up as raw data in Microsoft’s hands to be used as that closed-source company saw fit. Although that case referred specifically to primary and secondary schools, the principles set forward apply equally to universities. Therefore we see a rapidly growing groundswell of institutions of higher education transitioning from expensive closed-source teaching and learning systems, which they have no control over, to free open-source solutions they control together with the open-source principles that undergird them - a movement evident all across Europe. "Big Name" tech companies and their costly closed-source offerings simply don’t meet the EU’s tough new security, privacy and personal freedom guarantees.

How long it will take for free software and the open-source philosophy which promotes it to spread to the world wide educational community is up for debate. That in time it will be the norm is no longer in dispute however, as evidenced by giant closed-source companies like Microsoft climbing onto the open-source band wagon and beating the drum for it - seeking with huge infusions of cash and a company propaganda mill hard at work to get in front of the story and guide it in directions favorable to itself.

Interesting times we live in to say the least. Hopefully the more things change, this time they won't stay the same..


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Re: The Promise of Open-Source in Education.. [Re: Az4x4] #147992 05/17/20 07:35 PM
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Muniac Offline
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Some commercial software developers do provide educational licenses for their software products. ProEngineer is one such example for parametric 3D modeling. As for engineering students, it's unlikely they will work for a company that depends heavily on freeware. SolidWorks and ProEngineer are the two most common 3D modeling software options. AutoCAD has a 3D product too with some licensing options for small businesses. It boils down to support which I found lacking in almost all the Linux products I've used. Problems need to be solved via searching blogs and/or posting on developer sites. Response times, accuracy and clarity of the answers can vary widely. It means a lot of time spent dealing with trying to solve issues. In a commercial setting, paid support often is cheaper. That said, I rely heavily on open source Linux products. I'm grateful for those options. Choices are good to have.


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Re: The Promise of Open-Source in Education.. [Re: Muniac] #147994 05/18/20 12:24 AM
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Az4x4 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Muniac
..Some commercial software developers do provide educational licenses for their software products. ProEngineer is one such example for parametric 3D modeling. As for engineering students, it's unlikely they will work for a company that depends heavily on freeware. SolidWorks and ProEngineer are the two most common 3D modeling software options. AutoCAD has a 3D product too with some licensing options for small businesses......

However true that may be, and I trust it is, what the EU is concerned with are not the specialized products that commercial 3D modeling software developers offer, but the lack of ready accountability, data security and open transparency in closed-source operating systems such as Windows and macOS. That students will or won't use a particular program once they've transitioned from academia to the working world isn't the EU's concern.

Office 365 was banned in German schools not because it was a closed-source Microsoft product, but because it transferred raw personal data on users to Microsoft to be used as the company saw fit, without any oversight or transparency. It's the lack of real data security that the court called attention to, which saw the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation come into effect in 2018. Since then the move towards free open-source software in academia and elsewhere across the continent has slowly accelerated.

That graduates will learn to use high end closed-source commercial software once they've graduated is a given. That Universities and Colleges find themselves on the crest of a legally driven wave rushing relentlessly towards free open-source operating systems with attendant open-source teaching and learning tools throughout academia is likewise a fact in today's EU.


"When it's a life-and-death matter, the market for bullshit drops to zero."

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