Continuing education through online methods is nothing new. Educational institutions have been pushing online education for years and many others are looking into the possibility of implementing such methods. While you can spend the money having a solution developed and tailored to your specific needs, existing open source applications can provide the experience you are looking for. An item dubbed as ‘open source’ doesn’t mean that it’s any less secure or full of bugs. In fact, supporters of open source software spend a great deal of time making sure that these negatives are minimized as well as any corporate developer.
1. Cost: As open source applications are free, you have no money to lose if you don’t like the solution. Instead of being burdened with buyer’s remorse at a later date, you can simply opt out of not using the application. Open source solutions such as Moodle have 100 per cent full access for users without trial expiration. You can take your time getting to know what the software can do without subscription fees or watching the date as the trial comes close to an end.
2. Easy to Install: Whether you are installing the application on your own local server or placing it online for remote students, the process is much easier than you could imagine. As many institutions or school districts will have required software already installed locally for other purposes, the actual investment of installing an open source application is quite nominal in comparison to corporate brands.
3. Support: Popular open source projects have a vast amount of support available through the use of forums and/or professional developers. If there is ever a problem with your installation, most supporters of the application will respond promptly. However, most problems that people face are already displayed with ways to fix them. You never have to pay support or monthly maintenance fees when using open source educational systems.
4. Plugins: Popular open source educational methods usually have a following of developers that create modules and plugins for the solution. Essentially, these are installable upgrades for the open source project that users don’t necessarily need. Sometimes, a developer will create a module tailored for a specific need by a user. These modules can be installed in order to create a more robust functionality for your own criteria.
5. Security: Many open source applications are as secure as those you would purchase from a corporate developer. Open source applications have a vigilant developer-base that will immediately spot holes and repair them quickly. Corporations may take their time to unload a package once per month as an update. While both corporate and open source developers will try their best to secure the solution, a large portion of the risk boils down to your network security, which is out of the realm of the solution anyway.
Open source applications are developed by those with coding knowledge who donate their time to create a solution that everyone can use securely and without fault. A great deal of the time, these solutions are created by those who work in the corporate field of development holding degrees of their own. Millions of users trust open source creation as it provides a free-to-use method to get what you need built by those who know what the consumers want. As open source is free to use, you have nothing to lose by trying it for yourself except a few moments of your time.
* Our returning guest, Ken Myers, is the founder of http://www.longhornleads.com/ and has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.
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