More Starters…

October 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last week I posted a few comments pointing to a frustrating phenomena I’ve seen with the acceptance (dare I say popularity?) of open source software: we’ve got too many new projects (over a million) in categories already inundated with viable options. Rather than joining an existing project, folks are creating their own. I used 230+ open source learning management systems (and apparently at least one open source “authoring tool“) to make my point.

However, the phenomena is not limited to learning management systems (or authoring tools) or, for that matter, even software, as the problem appears to have crossed over into other sectors capitalizing on “openness” (fauxpenness?) as a development and distribution (promotion?) method. The Open Educational Resources (OER) movement suffers as well from the “starters over joiners phenomena.” Thankfully, there is tremendous interest in both the use of OER broadly and, just as importantly, open source’s foundational practices that enable it–OER is all good and I am way for it. Massive Open Online Courses (OK, I’m not too “for it” with MOOCs–but that’s another post), Creative Commons licensed learning objects, open access journals, open courseware, etc., all harness the collaborative and community processes of co-creation first ascribed to open source software.

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Joiners, Not Starters

October 16, 2013 § 3 Comments

In an ongoing theme with this blog (I can’t help myself) I’ve lamented, while the acceptance of open methods for development and distribution has grown across a variety of sectors, the result has been an influx of new projects (i.e. starters), by well meaning converts/proponents, rather than the creation of broader communities of collaborators/contributors (i.e. joiners).

Well another open source LMS announcement was made today by The Adapt Learning Community…

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Linux on the Desktop

August 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

After my previous post, I received a few comments about the “real costs” of open source, a-la, “open source isn’t free,” and “open source actually costs more due to a loss in productivity.”

Basically folks said to run Linux on the desktop, required a high skill set, and that “the average user” could not maintain a Linux-based operation system. These “maintenance cost,” i.e. hours wondering through discussion forums chasing down answers for complex Linux issues, leads to decreased productivity, thus costing folks more in lost time (when they could be earning money), than other “out of the box” options. In addition, folks argued, because open source applications are feature poor compared to commercial options, there are things you just can’t do with open source tools, again reducing productivity.

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It’s “Revise, Remix & Redistribute” not, “Repeat, Redo & Replicate.”

July 29, 2013 § 4 Comments

I just updated my desktop from Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (10.04 LTS) to Precise Pangolin (12.04 LTS) and like always after any new version or functionality from Ubuntu (Linux), excited by the new features, I can’t help but leap up on my soap box (well, to be honest, my “high horse“) to bemoan the lack of awareness and adoption of Linux on the desktop–OK really to chastise and ridicule many in IT (especially decision-makers), but especially those working in and with open communities of practice who don’t eat their own dog food.

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Innovation or Replication?

June 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

Why those excited by the Stanford & edX open source platform collaboration (and many other “open” initiatives) don’t get it. It’s “reuse, revise, remix, redistribute,” not “reinvent, redo, redundant, replace.” The below article appeared just this week, in 2004 [May, 2014].

Sakai Project [EdX] launches groundbreaking open source collaboration

By Nancy Connell of News Service [Patrick Masson]

The Sakai Project [EdX], a landmark venture to create open-source course management tools and related software for the higher education community, has been launched by a consortium of four [three]universities, with U-M [Stanford] in a leading role.

The project—a collaboration of U-M with Indiana [Harvard University], the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford—will release its first software next summer. It has received a $2.4 [$60] million grant from the Mellon Foundation and $300,000 from the Hewlett foundation in funding, and it has attracted the interest of at least 13 additional colleges and universities since its launch in December [May of 2012], says Joseph Hardin [Anant Agarwal], director of the Sakai [edX] project.

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OSS Watch launches Open Source Options for Education Index

January 17, 2013 § 1 Comment

Mark Johnson recently posted to the Moodle Forums an announcement of the creation of the “Open Source Options for Education” index to compliment the UK Cabinet Office’s Open Source Procurement Toolkit.

I’ve been in this really good MOOC for the past 20 years, it’s called “The Internet.”

August 1, 2012 § 12 Comments

I’d like to suggest a great MOOC that has been around for years. It is “massive” (nearly a half million members); it is open–as in free (no charge); it is open–as in anyone can participate (no enrollment requirements/restrictions); it is open–as in shareable/reusable (there is no copyright: all content by all contributors is in the public domain); it is open–as in community driven (topics and direction are self-organized by peers); it is open–as in transparent (all information is available to all); it’s online (, and it provides over 200 “courses” (tutorials, resources and related discussions) across a variety of areas:
– Applications / GUI / Multimedia
– Hardware
– Networking
– Programming
– Security

Some of the programming tutorials include: Beginning with Java; BSD Sockets programming in C with examples; Building C programs on Linux; Building C++ programs on Linux; Emacs for an IDE, etc.

There is even a process for credentialing where peers rate the activities of others in order to establish users’ reputations. Those who provide helpful insights are rewarded, while those who offer less helpful support get neutral or even negative reputations. This peer to peer assessment model is something many MOOCs are struggling with.

So why isn’t this recognized as a MOOC? The cynic in me says, well because MOOC’s are really marketing tools to promote a university’s “innovation,” garner financial support (e.g. grants, investment funding, etc.) and/or drive online enrollments (i.e. take a MOOC, then enroll in a “real” course). Why does every college or university need a MOOC or other OCW/OER initiative, rather than really take advantage of the openness of shared resources to enhance, contribute and redistribute?

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