From mobile-specific to enterprise resource planning, these open source platforms could help streamline campus IT.
[Editor’s note: This article has been updated. Originally, rSmart OneCampus was listed as open source. This solution has been removed.]
Usually, the higher-ed industry has a reputation as being one of the slowest adopters of new technology. But when it comes to open source software (OSS), campus IT departments are ahead of other industry and consumer tech adoption curves, says Scott Wilson, service manager of OSS Watch at the University of Oxford.
“On the face of it, higher education has been relatively quick to realize the benefits, notes Wilson. “Over 50 percent of higher education institutions use open source, both on the server and on the desktop. And one of the great open source success stories in higher education is the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).”
According to Gartner, by 2016 the vast majority of mainstream IT organizations will leverage nontrivial elements of open-source software (directly or indirectly) in mission-critical IT solutions.
Reasons for the high adoption rate of OSS in higher education, specifically—outside of the fact that the Open Source Movement itself grew in part out of U.S. academic institutions in the 1970s and 80s—include reducing overall operation costs, tailoring software for unique needs, and improving the quality of STEM education.
“OSS also provides faculty members the ability to dissect source code and prepare students for low-level software development,” explains Maurice Dawson, assistant professor of Information Services at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “OSS could enhance the STEM environment by infusing multiple applications that can be developed, analyzed, and used as part of the curriculum.”
However, Gartner also noted that most mainstream IT organizations “will fail to effectively manage these [OSS] assets in a manner that minimizes risk and maximizes ROI,” making it critical that OSS-interested IT departments start by evaluating OSS solutions currently used, and trusted by, other colleges and universities.
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