No Strings Attached: Open Source Solutions

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					Launching Library 2.0

No Strings Attached:
Open Source Solutions
                                                                                                           by Kathy Fredricks

I   magine downloading a
    new software application
    and not having to worry
about licensing, finding dol-
lars in the budget, or incur-
                                                of users who provide improvements
                                                and solutions to problems with pro-
                                                grams. The variety of tools available
                                                may be surprising. Following is a quick
                                                tour of some of these OSS products.
                                                                                             has all its courses available as OSS—
                                                                                             available for use and review. Resources
                                                                                             are also being developed for the K-12
                                                                                             world. Check out WikiBooks Jr. to see a
                                                                                             fledgling collection of nonfiction books
                                                                                             online (see Figure 3).

ring additional maintenance
                                                From Browsing                                provides a K-3 reading program from
                                                                                             phonemic awareness to text decoding

costs. Imagine finding a Web                    to Coursework                                (see Figure 4). Curriki provides lesson
                                                    Browsed the Internet recently?           plans and curricula designed for all to
design tool in the public                       Firefox is an open source product that       share.
domain—free for use. Imag-                      rivals the Internet Explorers of the world      When schools began developing
                                                and is ready for download (see Figure        online courses, Blackboard became
ine major universities that                     1). Microsoft Office, too, has rivals in     the commercial product of choice for
provide online courses with                     the OSS world. Check out OpenOffice,         providing materials, discussion boards,
                                                which some schools load on flash drives      and other reporting tools for distance
no strings attached. Imagine                                                                 learning. The OSS equivalent for course
                                                for students to carry with them. One
online textbooks without a                      well-known resource is Audacity, the         management can be seen in Sakai and
hefty fee—or weight! Wel-                       audio editing program that is an open        Moodle, which now has more than
                                                source standard for podcasters (see          46,000 registered users and more than
come to the wide-open                           Figure 2).                                   two million courses worldwide. The
world of open source soft-                          Linux and Ubuntu are two products        models available in Moodle include
                                                the tech staff will probably be familiar     everything from traditional course
ware (OSS).
                                                with. These open source solutions are        management tools to blogging and
                                                designed for servers (Linux) and oper-       other social networking features.
What Is Open Source?                            ating systems (Ubuntu). These building
    So just what makes software open
source? Wikipedia defines OSS as
                                                blocks are used in third worl
Description: Open source software offers great promise for schools and library media centers, particularly in tough economic times. Just as companies as diverse as Amazon and airlines have been built with some open source software, education is finding solid OSS choices.
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