This document presents options for open source software for use in the education sector. Some of these may have uses outside of education, but they are presented here in the context of their specific benefits to educational establishments, or their use in the course of teaching and learning.
The document is intended to complement the UK Cabinet Office’s Open Source Options document, which is presented as part of its Open Source Procurement Toolkit in recognition that open source software is underused across the public sector. As such, the aims and context of this document are the same as those stated in the original document.
The document in its current form is the product of an ongoing collaboration between OSS Watch, the UK education community, and open source software communities. If you have examples of open source software that is specifically useful in an educational context, or an example of one of the pieces of software being used in education, please get in touch with us or add your contributions to the publicly editable version of the document.
Moodle is used internationally by hundreds of institutions.
There is a highly active Moodle user community providing support.
Moodle can be extended an integrated with other systems using the large library of available plug-ins.
The Sakai project was founded from a collaboration between Indiana University, MIT, Stanford and University of Michigan. It currently maintains two systems - the Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE) and the Open Academic Environment (OAE).
Gibbon aims to meet the needs of teachers, reducing workload and helping students learn. It also handles SIM functionality, providing all information in one place.
Manchester Metropolitan University selected Moodle as its VLE after an extensive review. Reference http://oss.ly/3o
The Open University uses Moodle to deliver distance learning courses with one of the world’s largest Moodle instances. Reference http://oss.ly/3r
Over 4000 schools, colleges, universities and companies have an active Moodle site in the UK alone. Reference http://oss.ly/3q
The University of Oxford uses Sakai as the basis of their WebLearn platform for teaching, research and collaboration. References http://oss.ly/3s
The open source Koha project from koha-community.org is not to be confused with LibLime Koha or LibLime Academic Koha. LibLime Koha is a fork of the original project managed by LibLime, while LibLime Academic Koha is a separate product developed for a consortium of institutions.
OpenBiblio is an automated library system containing OPAC, circulation, cataloging, and staff administration functionality.
Archi and BizzDesign Architect are both enterprise architecture modelling applications that use the Archimate standard.
Archi has been used to introduce Enterprise Architecture modelling to several universities around the UK, including Staffordshire University, University of Bolton, and Coventry University. Refs http://oss.ly/4x, http://oss.ly/4y, http://oss.ly/4z
Management Information Systems
Consider as Alternative to
Real World Use
Management Information System (MIS)/Student Records
Rosegarden provides a multi-track MIDI sequencer and composition environment.
Hydrogen is a cross-platform drum machine.
MuseScore allows you to create, play and print sheet music.
MuseScore is used internationally by schools, universities and private music teachers at all levels, including by Redbridge College and De Montfort University in the UK. Refs http://oss.ly/4b, http://oss.ly/4a
Hydrogen is used at Glen View High School in Beaumont, California for teaching loop-based audio production. Ref http://oss.ly/4u
Ubuntu Studio is a specialised Linux distribution focused on media creation.
While there is no single open source application that provides all features of a comprehensive package like Reason, there are distributions of Linux designed for studio workstations, combining several applications to provide comparable features.
Featured software includes multi-track recorders, MIDI sequencers, virtual amplifiers and effects processors.
Ubuntu Studio also features JACK, an advanced audio system allowing the audio inputs and outputs of separate applications to be connected together.
As with many Linux distributions, studio-focused distributions can often be run from CD for testing without installing anything to the computer’s hard drive.
Scratch is a language designed for teaching programming concepts, allowing students to create programs by dragging blocks onto a canvas rather than typing commands.
Ruby, Python and PHP are all widely-used interpreted programming languages.
Lazarus is an alternative to Delphi, can run on both Windows and Linux platforms and uses an almost identical interface.
PHP is designed for building dynamic web applications.
Many common web applications such as Wordpress, MediaWiki, Drupal and Moodle are written in PHP.
Ruby and Python are powerful multi-purpose languages which can be used to build both desktop and web applications.
Ruby and Python feature consistent intuitive syntax which makes them ideal for teaching.
Each language is supported by a vibrant community of users and developers, which comprehensive documentation.
A recent survey of the UK Computing At School (CAS) and Computers of Education Society in Ireland (CESI) communities showed Scratch to be the most widely taught language for 11-14 year olds, Python and Scratch to be the 2 most widely taught languages for 14-16 year olds, and Python to be the second most widely taught for 16-18 year olds. Ref http://oss.ly/4n
gvSIG Educa is a customization of the gvSIG Desktop Open Source GIS, adapted as a tool for the education of issues that have a geographic component.
The aim is to provide educators with a tool that helps students to analyse and understand space, and which can be adapted to different levels or education systems.
gvSIG Educa is not only useful for the teaching of geographic material, but can also be used for learning any subject that contains a spatial component such as history, economics, natural science, sociology…
Facilitates learning by letting students interact with the information, by adding a spatial component to the study of the material, and by facilitating the assimilation of concepts through visual tools such as thematic maps.
gvSIG Educa provides analysis tools that help to understand spatial relationships.
Other open source GIS packages provide similar feature sets.
gvSIG Educa arose out of the gvSIG Batoví distribution, which is available to all children of Common Education (grades 1 to 6) and their respective teachers in public schools across Uruguay, thanks to the Ceibal project. Refs http://oss.ly/4v, http://oss.ly/4w