Magazine article Technology & Learning

Open for Business: OSS Could Help Districts Keep Costs Down

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Open for Business: OSS Could Help Districts Keep Costs Down

Article excerpt

Many educators are familiar with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative, a project that aims to revolutionize education worldwide through the development of a $100 laptop. But fewer know that when these computers are delivered they will be loaded with open-source software (OSS), not proprietary programs. What is OSS, and why are OLPC officials so keen on using it?

OSS is developed through the collaborative efforts of programmers around the world. This is possible because the underlying program code is available to all users. Best of all, OSS is free to the public. That means that OLPC can provide fully loaded laptops to children at a reasonable cost. Because the project is initially targeting underdeveloped nations, it's unclear how OLPC will impact schools in the United States in terms of hardware acquisition, but cash-strapped districts might consider taking OLPC's lead and adopting OSS on existing equipment.

Though many OSS programs run on Linux, a growing number offer versions that are compatible with Windows and Mac OS X. Two resources for identifying these programs are the Open CD (http://theopened . …

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