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Summary of Pat Masson's contribution to the "OSS and OER in Education Series." In this post, he will be writing from personal experience about the barriers to institutional adoption of open source software.

Summary - barriers to the adoption of open source: personal and professional observations

“Barriers to the Adoption of Open Source: Personal and Professional Observations,” the fourth installment of the Impact of Open Source Software Series, was posted on April 18, 2007, by Pat Masson, CIO of SUNY Delhi. Thanks Pat!

Open source software is not a technology issue.

Pat starts out with the observation that the debate around Open Source is no longer really about the technology. Many of the issues around support, quality, and functionality are pretty much settled. Open Source Software is widely used in the commercial and educational sectors and increasing numbers of vendors are contributing to OSS communities and integrating OSS into their offerings. In addition, Pat cites instances in which the agile design and development process indicative of OSS has been adopted by commercial vendors. So, the debate in the commercial and educational sectors among technologists is pretty much over, while academic decision makers are still debating about OSS, which has become the adoption bottleneck.

You’re soaking in i.t.

The use of OSS in academic computing is sometimes invisible, because it meets the requirements, the end users or academic decision makers are not even aware that they are using OSS. As the academy increasing depends on software to support mission critical tasks and as OSS becomes ubiquitous across application and system classes, who will make decisions about the use of OSS? Pat takes this a step further by discussing the differences between how the treatment of OSS low in the software stack relative to very visible applications differs. He points out that software low on the stack that is OSS meets with little debate and has virtually no visibility to academic decision makers, while applications at the top of the stack or residing on the desktop are treated differently. This is captured in the following question, “How many of the folks governing online education and debating Moodle are also debating the LAMP stack?” In addition, it is pointed out that because vendors are adopting OSS, but not advertising the fact, many academic decision makers are selecting OSS based applications without knowing it, so they treat OSS objectively. Pat suggests that this is an overall governance issue and a function of awareness of academic decision makers relative to software across the stack.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Because many end users, just want the software to work, OSS has become a default option in many IT shops because of the clear technological benefits of exposed code and an open distribution license. Pat asks the rather rhetorical question about what level end users and academic administrators should be engaging in dialog about software. Should it principally be about a) the underlying architecture, b) development methodologies, or c) the application itself (functionality)? Pat indicates that the productive part of the conversation, if we want end users to think about software as a tool to get stuff done, is around the functionality of the software, not the technology. That is, does the software function appropriately and meet business needs? When this is the focus, OSS will be viewed, from the end user perspective, the same way as commercial software. The idea is that focusing on functionality, reduces the unfounded technological concerns of many academic end users, allowing the IT department to assess the technological merit of the software, which would include the quality of the code and the ability of the OSS community and associated organizations to do the right thing by the adopting organization based also on the adoptor’s capacity. The punch line is about division of labor. The end users should be responsible for knowing, defining, and articulating the functionality requirements, and the IT department is responsible for making them happen automagically, while not confusing the issue with technological concerns about OSS and proprietary software.

Open source software goes to eleven

Pat argues that there are topics that are most appropriate to academic decisions makers and faculty. They tend to be around functionality and usability rather than how to download, install, and configure a LAMP environment. Pat asserted that much of the value of open source community translates to improved code and support for technologists. Although the forums can be very helpful to end users, active user forums are not unique to OSS, but are evident also in proprietary communities.

How many licks does it take to get to the data center of your campus?

In the end, Pat asks us “What role should end-users play identifying specific software?” His answer is that they should not be identifying specific solutions. They should be developing feature lists, functional requirements, use cases, business rules, workflow, etc. and working with the IT department to ensure that the options meet their requirements.

Comments

Many of the comments that were made following Pat’s initial posting were mutually reinforcing, serving to clarify and refine some points. Most of the comments focused on the appropriate relationships between IT professionals and end users of educational applications and systems. Pat’s contention that one of the roles of an IT professional is to act as an interpreter or translator for end users was reinforced, but also challenged by Richard Wyles as being circumstantial, pointing out that the differences between OSS and proprietary software is frequently not technological. This being the case, a typical IT shop might not be so qualified to assess OSS and the supporting community. It was clear that the discussants agreed that there are differences between OSS and proprietary software, that the differences are important under many circumstances, that sometimes IT professionals are not in the best position to explain the differences, and that sometimes end users are not in the best position to understand what are the important or relevant differences, and these are some of the factors that mitigate the current impact of OSS on education.

Questions & Answers

find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
I know this work
salma
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
Abhi
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
ninjadapaul
20/(×-6^2)
Salomon
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
ninjadapaul
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
ninjadapaul
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
Salomon
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
Salomon
I got X =-6
Salomon
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
ninjadapaul
oops. ignore that.
ninjadapaul
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
ninjadapaul
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Abhi
is it a question of log
Abhi
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But this is not salma it's Faiza live in lousvile Ky I garbage this so I am going collage with JCTC that the of the collage thank you my friends
salma
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
hello
Sherica
im all ears I need to learn
Sherica
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Tamia
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Uday
hi
salma
what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
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Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
Kim
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Al
y=10×
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
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Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
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Porter
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Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
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AMJAD
what is system testing
AMJAD
what is the application of nanotechnology?
Stotaw
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
Azam
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
Prasenjit
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
Azam
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
Prasenjit
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
Damian
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
Damian
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
Azam
Hello
Uday
I'm interested in Nanotube
Uday
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
Prasenjit
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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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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