Open Source In Education
In this particular segment of our site, we would like to shed some light on how and where open source has affected, or can possibly affect, our education system. Education, as we see it has the potential to actually determine how the entire nation works. Since this website of ours mainly targets students and people involved in education, we find it really essential to spread a few words about its direct implications.
- OLPC and similar projects
- Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) in Schools and Colleges
- Google Summer of Code
OLPC Project Case Study
Open source has laid out its tentacles far beyond the software world and the entire operating system wars. It now aims at penetrating into the world of education, an aspect that this site of ours, the Open Source Weekend plans to cover extensively. Though all our tutorials and the rest of the site content are very relevant for students who use the Internet, but this project, the OLPC is something for those who aren't as fortunate to get a chance to use this wonderful resource.
OLPC – or the One Laptop Per Child project – is an educational initiative taken to spread the use of computers and aid learning in developing of the world. For this, the non-profit XO Foundation developed a laptop that costs around $180. This specially engineered low power, high on features laptop is said to be ideal to aid learning. Despite the low cost, it doens't skimp on features – having wireless mesh networking (which allows the users to set up a network amongst themselves), video conferencing features such as an integrated webcam, and also a Linux-based operating system running on it. It's not just to aid learning in the backward regions, but also to facilitate quality education and bring in a revolution in the conventional style of learning. The project aims to replace notebooks with laptops and use multimedia and networking to present content to students in the class and make learning way more fun and affordable too!
Already, the program has been successfully experimented in places such as Rwanda, Haiti, Afghanistan and several other countries. Countries like India and Ethiopia are also showing interest.
The success of this program lies in thfe availability of a cheap-yet-usable laptop. Although it is made using subsidized hardware components from its sponsors, the software used is free. It is a specially modified version Fedora, a free Linux distribution developed by the Linux community and supported by Red Hat. Bundled with lots of useful applications and being specially designed for children in primary and middle school and customized for high usage, the OLPC laptop is very intuitive to use. This way, open source has shown its capacity to not just bring up huge multi-national corporations, but also support and enhance lives of students who might not otherwise have got such an opportunity.