Open Source Software in Education in Africa

Megan Watson, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town

Abstract


Open source software affords advantages such as lower costs, increased reliability and security, it encourages innovation and builds local capacity. There are two different applications of open source software within education. The first is the use of open source software to deliver eduction and knowledge. This can be achieved through e-learning systems such as KEWL.NextGen and Moodle or open access systems such as OJS and OCS. The second is through the development of open source software. The open source community provides the space and support for learning software development and encourages innovation.

Several Universities across Africa have incorporated e-learning into their curricula. The integration of online facilities requires a new way of thinking about education. A learning-centred approach will be more effective than the traditional lecture driven approach. In this approach research material is made available through the various software systems and the student becomes responsible for his/her own learning.

However these Universities face many challenges including the lack of resources and technical skills for properly utilising and maintaining these systems. They have introduced ways in which to incorporate the online learning within the restrictions of the technology and knowledge available. Projects such as the African Virual Open Initiatives and Resources collaboration project (AVOIR) aim to build capacity through the use and development of open source software and the creation of an open source community.

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