One of the major problems with equipping schools with new technology is the cost of constantly updating and replacing software. Not only is software expensive, but the licenses for an entire school building or district really add to the overall cost. This obstacle means that schools will be stuck with outdated tools or, even worse, go without.
This is where open source software can save schools an incredible amount of money and resources. Open source software is software developers have created that are free to use and distribute. They share the coding for the software so that users may create their own applications and fixes for bugs that may arise. The process for improving and updating open source applications has improved so much that it’s become as efficient as those of for-profit software. The other great thing is that using the software is free. Most developers just ask for donations and/or participation in their edit and revision process.
Here’s a list of some popular open source applications ready for download today:
- Email – Thunderbird
- Web Browsers – Firefox
- Operating Systems – Linux
- Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentation Tools – OpenOffice
- Desktop Publishing – Scribus
- Audio Editing – Audacity
These are just a few of the more popular open source programs out there. There is plenty more open source software out there. Lists of open-source software can be found at Damicon, Wikipedia, and Ubuntu.
All of this software is free to download and distribute. Expensive updates and licensing are no longer necessary. Plus, many of these applications work well with existing for-profit software already present on most computers.
Which open source applications do you use on a regular basis? Which software do you wish had an open source equivalent? How might the use of open source allow more accessibility for our students?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center. He would also like for you to be aware that he publishes this blog using WordPress and facilitates his training sessions using MOODLE, both open source applications.