Open source models in education
I seem to have inherited an EU project…
The OU is a partner in FLOSScom – the idea of which is to look at open source communities and see how (or if) the principles can be applied in education, ie to what extent they can act as a model of an e-learning community. This is in my area of interest so I’m going to be the project lead for the OU.
Although I think there are lots of interesting things about the open course community which have parallels in education (for instance the exchange of ideas, status established by reputation, etc) what I think is just as interesting is where the model or metaphor does not apply. What is different about education to producing software? Are all subject matters equal? To what extent should education try to be like the FLOSS model?
Anyway, it’s just starting and it looks genuinely interesting which has not always been my experience with EU projects.
This is something I’ve thought about. I think one of the key differences is that someone who develops open-source software may well use the software they develop themselves, whereas this isn’t going to apply in educational contexts. The experience of developing whatever it is might be of value, but the end result almost certainly isn’t to the person who created it. This is obviously going to influence what is likely to emerge naturally.
Also, I think that it’s easier to decouple bits of software development in the way you need for open-source to work well – almost all successful open-source projects have a very modular architecture or good support for the development of plug-ins. You can do the same with education to some extent but the dependencies tend to be much more subtle and harder to identify.