My affinity for open source is best conveyed with the phrase “an ecology of talent.” Open source is underpinned by a philosophy of making things collaboratively and sharing them freely, and the idea that software designed in an ecosystem rather than a vacuum is more robust, more diverse and more sustainable.
Some of the many Open Source tools I use and love:
Gibbon is an open source school platform with an actively growing community of schools using and contributing to it. Like its primate namesake, Gibbon aims to be flexible, adapting to the needs of a wide range of schools. Much of my recent work has involved setting up, supporting and developing Gibbon with a number of international schools.
As Gibbon’s Maintainer, I work to set the technical direction for the project and grow the developer community. I also help squash bugs, develop new features, answer questions in the support forums, and I’m currently spearheading an object-oriented refactoring of the codebase.
Open Source in Education
The power of open source in schools isn’t in the cost (which can be a bonus), but in the ability to work together to adapt to the continuously evolving needs of education. Particularly as educators re-evaluate the traditional models of teaching and look for ways to provide student agency and self-directed learning models, the tools they use need to adapt and change with these ideas.
I believe the software that helps transform education will be designed in the classroom.
There’s a lot of brain-power in schools—in teachers and in students—that can be applied to creating solutions for these changing software needs. To find learning models that work, we have to be able to experiment at the same level that learning is happening; to try, to fail, and to iterate on different approaches.
Chances are that the schools willing to embrace an open-source mindset and work together will be the ones who develop the ideas and tools that move education forward, built on the values that matter most to a school.