open source influence on education 03.12.2007, 1:30 PM
posted by eddie a. tejeda
The Online Education Database is running a story on the way the Open Source movement changed education, that assumes a causal relationship between the two:
MIT provides just one of the 10 open source educational success stories detailed below. Open source and open access resources have changed how colleges, organizations, instructors, and prospective students use software, operating systems and online documents for educational purposes. And, in most cases, each success story also has served as a springboard to create more open source projects.
This reminds me of something I have often wondered: Was the open source movement the catalyst for opening up education? Or was it simply the advent of instant communication and easy to copy digital media? Haven't the ideals of open source long existed in academia?
Charlie on March 13, 2007 9:25 AM:
There is no doubt that free and open source software has its roots in computer science in higher education. For example,
* Stallman worked at the MIT Media Lab.
* Torvalds was a student when he began Linux.
* Berkeley Unix.
Their FOSS practices came out of a tradition in computer science which emphasized the idea that knowledge production happens best through sharing and collaboration.
But the development of open source happened largely at the margins of higher ed, not within it. I think we have to be careful of attributing credit to higher education when we remember that researchers have developed a practice of trading off intellectual property rights to the publishing world in order to gain credit for tenure and promotion, and in the case of teachers writing textbooks, for monetary gain.
Over the years, most in higher education have moved to a stronger protectionist view of intellectual property. Institutions have adopted work for hire principles on some of their teachers' and researchers' intellectual property. I think we would find, through research, that academics are much more likely to create proprietary software than open source even though the example of open source has been around for over twenty years now. And from an open source perspective looking at the underlying principles behind education, open access is a no brainer, yet the majority of academics have been largely ambivalent--an in some cases resistant--to open access.
If indeed the ideals of education were that closely aligned with open source, things would be quite different. Or maybe I'm wrong and the ideals are more closely aligned than I suppose, but perhaps higher education's understanding of their own principles is much more narrow than it should be.
tim bulkeley on March 14, 2007 7:08 PM:
If indeed the ideals of education were that closely aligned with open source, things would be quite different. Or maybe I'm wrong and the ideals are more closely aligned than I suppose, but perhaps higher education's understanding of their own principles is much more narrow than it should be.And, of course, education is increasingly managed and the "managers' business models" demand an ROI that is immediate if possible. Also in the humanities at least scholarly guilds have been far too wedded to print (this is at last beginning perhaps to change...).
Posted by: Charlie at March 13, 2007 09:25 AM
Siva Vaidhyanathan on March 19, 2007 3:54 PM:
I think this this will help:
Open Source as Culture-Culture as Open Source
New York University - Department of Culture and Communication
OPEN SOURCE ANNUAL 2005, Clemens Brandt, ed., Berlin: Technische University, 2005
The Open Source model of peer production, sharing, revision, and peer review has distilled and labeled the most successful human creative habits into a techno- political movement. This distillation has had costs and benefits. It has been difficult to court mainstream acceptance for such a tangle of seemingly technical ideas when its chief advocates have been hackers and academics. On the other hand, the brilliant success of overtly labeled Open Source experiments, coupled with the horror stories of attempts to protect the proprietary model of cultural production have served to popularize the ideas championed by the movement. In recent years, we have seen the Open Source model overtly mimicked within domains of culture quite distinct from computer software. Rather than being revolutionary, this movement is quite conservatively recapturing and revalorizing the basic human communicative and cultural processes that have generated many good things.
J Bushnell on March 21, 2007 11:49 AM:
I think you can make the argument that the "ideals of open source" have existed in academia at least since the Enlightenment-era development of scientific publication standards...