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The use of Free and Open Source Software offers a cost effective solution as regard the software part. Furthermore, the ability to customize a solution to the special needs of a country, and any school or university in the country is very important.

Free and Open source software (FOSS) has become mainstream and has been recognized in many cases as a valid alternative to corresponding closed source software. Its availability contributes to widen the choice of software and avoid vendor lock-in by fostering competition on the market.

As regard the use of computer technology into public administrations , there is a need to foster the interoperability of their diverse ICT systems by requiring the use of open standards and open file formats irrespective of their choice of software. They should also ensure that the encoding of data guarantees the permanence of electronic public records and is not tied to a particular software provider.

Best wishes, Jean-Claude

3. ken udas - july 1st, 2007 at 8:54 am

Jean-Claude, Hello, I would like to follow-up a little more on the connections between the needs that you identified and the use of FOSS. Different FOSS applications and their communities have different characteristics. What do you envision are some of the important characteristics of FOSS applications that will be used to meet the needs that you identified within the context of the project you have described, and what do you see as the role of UNESCO?

Thanks, Ken

4. jean-claude dauphin - july 2nd, 2007 at 11:09 am

Hi Ken, I agree that the needs identified in my previous post address different communities as it would also concern different units inside UNESCO.

As a first step we could envisage to undertake a separate detailed needs analysis for each one, i.e. for:

  1. Use of ICTs for school and university administration
  2. Use of ICTs for ODL
  3. Computer literacy (Mapping of FOSS applications with the Open Source ICDL such as the COL Computer Navigator Certificate)
  4. Basic teaching of computer applications or programming
  5. Use of ICT as a pedagogical help (UNESCO ICT Competency Standards for Teachers, structure of a Training Syllabus ).

The detailed needs analysis would:

  1. determine the type of applications currently in use, determine system requirements and the future modules needed;
  2. investigate the existing FOSS applications that might be used;
  3. establish cooperative links with existing FOSS projects;
  4. determine the potential partners;
  5. undertake limited evaluation of selected FOSS applications that might be of use;
  6. report on finding, make information available on FOSS applications that can be used and make recommendations on the next phase to undertake.

This is a huge work, however, UNESCO already initiated some activities related to the five items above:

  • Collaboration with COL for producing a UNESCO/COL Computer Navigator Certificate based upon FOSS (item 3).
  • Elaboration of a generic Training Syllabus called “UNESCO ICT Competency Standards for Teachers”. i.e. the training syllabus focus on the concepts and is independent from the software applications to be used that may be FOSS or proprietary.(item 5). We could probably go one step further by doing a mapping exercise that would associate a FOSS application to each item of the syllabus.
  • An activity aimed at producing an “Open Distance Learning (ODL) Project Binder / Toolkit”, that is based upon FOSS and OER was also started. (item 2).

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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