Strategies and Policies for the implementation of Free & and Open Source Software in Higher Education
Strategies & Policies
for the implementation of
Free & and Open Source Software
in Higher Education Institutions
University of Western Cape
Prof. Dr. Frederik Questier
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Non-commercial Presented at 1
E-learning Africa 2010
Who are we?
University of Western Cape, South Africa
Head of free software innovation unit
Architect and lead developer of Chisimba
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
Professor learning technologies
Research and Innovation Director Chamilo
Free & Open Source Software
Strategies and policies for implementation
For a better world
"The most fundamental way of helping other people,
is to teach people how to do things better
or how to better their lives.
For people who use computers,
this means sharing the recipes you use on your computer,
in other words the programs you run."
Free Software Foundation.
Free (Libre Open Source) Software
The freedom to
run the program for any purpose
study how the program works,
and to adapt it to your needs
improve the program,
and release your improvements to the public.
These freedoms require access to the source code
Source code: if encrypt(password) == encryptedpassword, then login=1, end
Compiled code: 001001011101010011001100001111011000110001110001101
The free software world
FLOSS exists for all tasks
e.g. 230K projects, 2M contributors @ sourceforge.net
e.g. IBM > 1 billion $ per year
Several business models
User friendly ← written by users for users
Cross-platform ← recompile source code
High development pace ← reuse of best modules
High quality ← peer review, reuse = survival of the fittest
High security ← peer review, Unix origin, modular, encryption
reduce (license) costs
reduce digital divide
eliminate software piracy
easier license management
easy to localize and customize
better quality (peer review, intrinsic-motivated developers)
increase security (security by design vs security by obscurity)
increase interoperability (open standards)
reduce dependencies from monopolies & foreign software companies
Bridging the digital divide
"Africa can bridge the digital divide
by adopting open source
thus narrowing the effect of techno-colonialism"
“Need for technology
that is controlled by local communities
and not by foreign companies,
that is public property
and empowers people to be self-reliant”
Who believes software
is better Free and Open?
Who can we sue?
plethora of choice
(e.g. >313 Linux distributions)
limited in house expertise?
Who can break the monopoly?
“We teach MS because that is what companies use”
“We cannot use FLOSS because our employees don't know it”
Growing number starts using FLOSS at home
Not happy with inferior software at work
Institutional FLOSS taskforce /
expertise / innovation center
Involve all stakeholders
including highest management
Expertise & capacity building
Resources for experimentation & innovation
Provide support – sustainability
Training → certification
FLOSS, except if no good alternative
which alternatives considered
Free & Open Licenses
X wants to encourage the use of Free Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) in the partner
X will only fund the implementation and training of FLOSS, unless proprietary software is
demonstrated to be significantly superior and necessary for the required tasks. Whenever X funds
are to be used for proprietary software, reasons must be provided (including a list of FLOSS
alternatives considered) and approved by X.
In the case hardware funded by X comes with proprietary software pre-installed, it must be
demonstrated that the maximum is done to convince the manufacturer or supplier to only deliver
FLOSS. Suppliers that are willing to provide hardware with FLOSS are to be preferred above
those that don't.
Software developed with X funds must be published under a FLOSS License, where possible, in
order to maximize its usefulness for other developing countries.
X advises new development projects to include a work package around FLOSS awareness
creation, expertise building, policy definition, training, support and implementation.
How to handle
the plethora of choice?
indicators of high quality & sustainability
mature, stable software
availability of support & documentation
need/possibility to change the code?
need/possibility to participate in the community?
When to migrate?
at the end of existing contracts
at hardware / software upgrade times
Consider migrating in phases
Key success factors
for migration & implementation
resources to experiment
an evidence-based choice
involvement of both technical and non-technical users in the
choice for a new system which is in all aspects at least as
good and easy as the previous one
reporting detailed migration plan to management and get
their approval and support
in-house expertise with open source software and
contact with the developers and users community
Constant communication with all stakeholders 33
Advantages of being a
contributing community member
co-decide the direction of development
research driven innovation
more contacts with other educational institutions
programming projects for students
better knowledge of the system
better trouble solving
possibilities for grants 34
The open way
avoid local customization without
participating in the community
establish an 'open source culture' of re-use,
collaboration and sharing
Provide FLOSS repositories / CDs
Thanks to VLIR-UOS for funding our E-learning Africa participation
Doubt by Elenaa Marie (Flickr)
Lockin, claustrofobia by Laororo (Flickr)
Pain Curve, creative commons by P. Scott
Liability, copyright by Proffman Poland (www.proffman.pl)
Social networking, creative commons by F. Questier
firstname.lastname@example.org http://questier.com 37