Readings: Open Source Software


Open Source Software

Computers are nothing without software. Unlike, say diamonds, which are more valuable because few people have them, software is more valuable when more people have it. It is a good bet that you or someone you know has bought, say, Microsoft word because everyone else was using it, or perhaps because a teacher required that you turn in Microsoft Word documents. In MS Office Alternatives (which I think needs a better name), you learned that there are several alternatives to Microsoft Office if what you need is a docx file.

The choices that teachers make about what software that they require students to use has implications that I think are largely overlooked. When you require your 150 students to use a particular piece of software, you are making that software more valuable. The reduced rates that software vendors often give schools are not because software companies are benevolent altruists who are supporting education, they are sound business decisions. Whatever software students learn to use in school they are likely to continue using indefinitely because they have already invested time into learning to use the software.

Here are two articles about these issues and their implications for education.

As always, you will likely need to use your school library’s proxy server to access these files.

Abbitt, J., & Davis, D. (2010, March). The Prevalence, Perceived Barriers and Benefits of Open Source Software in K-12 Public Schools in Southwest Ohio. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (Vol. 2010, No. 1, pp. 1296-1300). Retrieved from

Pfaffman, J. (2007). It’s time to consider open source software. TechTrends, 51(3), 38-43. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-007-0040-x