Open Source and the
Education Community:
A Report, and Some Suggestions
James Stanger, Ph.D.
Chief Certification Architect and
Vice President of Certification,
Certification Partners© Corporation
• Who are we?
– An overview of CIW, and what we do
• Why open source is important to us?
– We focus on job skills (Job Task Analysis)
– Our academic clients demand a task-based approach
• Who do we work with?
– High schools, community colleges, and universities
• What's the problem?
– Schools want to create employable candidates
– But, “Employability” usually often involve open source in
a meaningful way
• Some suggestions
– Okay, so there's one “open” high school out there . . .
– Let's try to get a bit practical, shall we?
Who are we?
• Certified Internet Web Professional
– A skills-based education program
– In existence since 1998
• We teach:
– Web development
– Web design
• Vendor-neutral
• Based on job skills
• We focus on open source
technologies whenever
• Over 175,000 exams
• We also develop courseware titles
Who are we? (Continued)
• Clients include
– Corporations such as IBM
– Over a dozen Universities worldwide
• Western Governors University (WGU)
• University of the West of Scotland
• New Hebei University (China)
– Dozens of community colleges
• Pellissippi State Technical Community College
• Mid-South Community Colleges
– About 150-200 high schools
• Battlefield High school (Virginia)
• Niceville High (Florida)
– We also have a significant self-study business
• We work daily with these clients; no theory or “works in
progress” here
Who are we? (continued)
• Due to our work with open source, we are often asked to
work with other standards bodies and organizations
States Career Clusters (
Integral7 (
On the advisory board of many community colleges
Linux Professional Institute (
Who are we? (continued)
• We teach and deliver exams for the following:
Web design
Database design
Server administration
Why is open source important to
• Terrific educational tool
– Can see what happens “underneath the hood” of vendorspecific technologies
– We creates innovators and troubleshooters
• Open source is a compelling development model
– We want to show students how they can contribute to that
– We teach innovators to become “knowledge workers”
• We don't put people on a “vendor treadmill”
– Skills-based approach first
– Applications second
– We don't put people on a “vendor treadmill”
• We also profile closed-source technology when the
market demands it
Who do we work with?
• We have an audience of well over 1,000 educators
• We regularly work with their many thousands of
Who did we talk to?
• Educators:
– Teachers
– Professors
– Trainers
• Administrators:
Department chairs
Curriculum designers
• State leaders: They enlist CIW to ensure that programs
meet industry standards for high schools, community
colleges and universities
• Survey: We conducted a survey of our customer base
What's at stake?
• Talent and innovation: Our best student talent generally
still comes from public institutions
– Yes, some major universities are major supporters
– But the majority of today's students aren't taught in those institutions
• Our communities: Where will we get new innovators if
we don't attract them now?
• Better software, better solutions
• Future of software development
What do instructors want?
• Not the same question as what they need!
Motivated students
More time
Funding for training and research
Better facilities
• So, what do they want?
– Reliable input from industry
– A way to demonstrate that their students are getting jobs –
their pay is increasingly tied to this fact
– A repeatable, stable turnkey solution
– Programs that have industry backing (Government Perkins
– Something that makes their life easier
• What does open source give them, then?
Is this the solution?
• Business?
• Serious?
• Turnkey?
Recent survey: Data
Survey: 11,500 customers and individuals polled
Ran from late June through mid-July 2008
242 respondents completed the survey
All respondents work in academia
Not very many people responding?
– We got a 2.5% return
– Higher than average for any survey (average is 2%)
– Not bad for educators who are enjoying their summer
Survey data (continued)
• So, who responded?
• Titles included: Instructor/teacher/professor,
department chair, curriculum leader, training manager
• Large number of directors, deans and administrators
Survey data (continued)
• The majority of respondents are well-entrenched in
their field
Survey data (continued)
• The majority of respondents were developers and
programmers - “Other” listed specific languages
• Many
as well
Survey data (continued)
• Majority of users counted Firefox consumption as using
– and teaching – open source. Hmm . . .
• Let's talk
about the
“back story”
Survey data (continued)
• Notice the array of proprietary applications
• Not trying to
pull an
• But, notice
how most
of these
can be
open source
Survey data (continued)
• From a “comfort” perspective, and from an industry
rule the
Survey data (continued)
What open source applications do you use on a pe rsonal or professional basis, outside of class?
OpenOffice at times.
SUSE Linux
ubunto, apache triad
Firefox, Wordpress, OpenOffice, Wireshark, Linux, Apache
Linux, Java, C++
Dreamweaver, Firefox, Office, XP
Microsoft software applications and web design software.
none [lots of these!]
none, I am not familiar with any
we have a Linux server in additional to servers running
Microsoft. I play around with free software for creating web
pages, blogs, videos, digital scrapbooks - if it's free, I'll play
when I have time :)
Open Office, Google Earth, Picassa
OOo, Filezilla, Apache, Linux, Notepad++, phpMyAdmin,
PHP, jEdit, TortoiseSVN, YUI, Audacity, GiMP, Smoothwall,
PuTTY and many more...
Gimp, Audacity, Moodle, Xampp, Linux, Open Office,
Utilities, mostly. No major applications.
PHP, MySQL, Apache, Audacity
Moodle Course Management System, Other FOSS Utilities
I don't use any but have heard about OpenOffice. If I had
more information on these sources, I might be willing to use
Almost everything is opensource...
Not sure what open source applications are available
Crimson Editor, FileZilla, Firefox, Unbuntu Linux and
xampp, Wordpress, Joomla
– Yes, Adobe Flex is open source – but notice some of the mistaken
and naïve ideas about open source
Survey data (continued)
• The majority of “other” said “We don't use open
source,” and “we never get asked for open source”
Survey data (continued)
• Corporate adoption is key
• Instructors
want to
take the
• Advisory
• These
bozos they listen to
Survey data (continued)
• “Open source is something for students but corporation
use standard industry software”
• “Lack of personal experience”
• “quality textbook resources are sometimes limited. I
don't have time to write my own "books" for all the
different open source” and “Not many publishers offer
texts in it.”
• “Our county doesnt have the software”
• “The students reluctance to learn something that isn't
• “Many are not as user friendly unless you are a
programmer and require more steps to use than
purchased software.”
Survey data (continued)
• “Greatest demand in the state is for .NET solutions. We
respond to industry demands rather than proselytize
non-commercial alternatives”
• “Money - there are hidden costs and ASP.NET is free prefer VB based code for teaching “
• “lack of my training”
• “not always compatible with home computers”
• “Don't know what is available”
Survey data (continued)
• If corporate adoption is key, consider this slide
• Other was all “None”
Survey data (continued)
• How deep and sophisticated is academic support of open
• The question was, “Please name any open source
projects you work with or contribute to”
– “None, I'd like to someday”
– “Do not work with them - just referrals for students to find free
– “Edinburgh Linux User Group (EdLug). UK Open Source
Consortium. Linux Professional Institute.” Peter George
– “I am working on a project to look at open source course
delivery options similar to blackboard”
– “OpenOffice and PortableApps”
– “Moodle, Joomla”
– Asterisk PBX system
– ossim /ipcop /nessus / nmap /moodle /exe
– Of 74 responses, 41 said “none.
Survey data (continued)
• Answers included: “Never gave it a thought” and
Survey data (continued)
• “briefly 15 min overview”
• “1hr, includes pic of Rich. Stallman”
Survey data (continued)
• “It is many development models with copyleft being the
far left.”
Some of our respondents
• Kern High School District: “We offer 50+ different job
training programs”
• Western Governors University (WGU): “Emphasis on
Oracle and industry-backed programs”
• Lawson State Community College: “I currently do not
actually teach students how to use open source
• Howard Community College “Low income students.
Digital Divide. Show students transferrable skills on
open source and how to access.”
• Some schools are quite progressive, sure.
• But for every one progressive
school/program/instructor, there are at least 4 who
really don't know, don't care about open source
Problems and solutions
Let's talk about some problems and solutions, shall we?
Some problems
Some solutions
• ACTE Conference: What goes on
in Vegas stays in Vegas?
• Meeting in Florida: ”I show some
students open source tools after
• Comment from Scotland: “I use
open source all the time – for
example, trial versions of Adobe”
• Question asked on Drupal: “We
need a portal that allows us to
create forums, share ideas, blog,
and share documents. Why aren't
we using Microsoft SharePoint?”
• Don't emphasize the GPL and
patents to the exclusion of
demonstrating how open source
business models work
• Show how open source is a
compelling way to develop
• Community and project
leaders need to show highlight
the business use of their
• Include educators more in
• Open source leaders need to
actively engage educators
Another story: CIW conference
• Eric Meyer
– A “CSS god”
– He gave a presentation on open source Web design
– Very inspirational – for a while, at least
• In less than a 1/2-hour, though, attendees were back
to talking about how important it was for them to get
funding for Adobe CS3!
“Hey, we use open source, too”
• Too?
• Why not primarily?
• Why not work with high schools more?
Solving the problem?
• Create new schools?
• Redesign the schools?
• Well . . .
• Let's try to be practical
• Can't we work with existing schools?
Who's holding us back?
• Answers:
It's all Microsoft's fault. Hmm. Not really.
Sometimes, your best friends are your worst supporters
The independent nature of open source project leaders
The small nature of projects
• Overly idealistic “thinkers” and “shakers” who may
be pleasant to listen to, but who have not executed in
existing academic institutions on a large scale
Who's holding us back?
• We have at least two communities at play, here:
– The open source community and all of its projects
– Academia, which has its own language, culture, and
– When was the last time you went to an academic conference?
– Why is that?
• More dialogue – even some dialog – is necessary
• And, let's focus on what can be accomplished on a
large scale, not in isolated instances
What solutions do you have in
• I'm ready to take some
Thank You!
James Stanger, Ph.D.
(888) 303-8694