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Open-Source and Open-Access Learning

June 2006
Author:  Eilif Trondsen
Contributor:  Rob Edmonds

In the past couple of years, open-source software (OSS) has seen rapidly growing interest and use in industry, as more and better products have emerged on the market. The value proposition of most of these products rests on the lack of a licensing fee and full access to the products' source code. The volume of free, digital content of all types (much with improving quality) or open-access content (OAC)—is also exploding. These two megatrends are starting to have a significant impact on formal and informal learning in all sectors of the global economy. Thus, learning professionals and learning executives are wise to start planning how to address these developments, if they have not already done so.

This report first places OSS and OAC in the context of the broad movement toward openness in business today, as a growing number of organizations recognize that they must increase their use of external resources to achieve sustainable success. Organizations with cultures that value and embrace openness will have the easiest time in innovating, building speed into their operations, and gaining the flexibility to adjust to the rapidly changing business environment.

The report then examines key OSS and OAC developments in kindergarten through twelfth grade (K–12) and higher education and in government and industry. The status of OSS and OAC varies widely across these sectors, partly because of differences in the financial and technical resources available to take advantage of OSS and OAC. For example, the K–12 sector often has limited resources available to exploit high-quality software or content. Higher education, government, and industry have greater opportunities to take advantage of emerging developments and opportunities.

The report offers perspectives on how OSS and OAC will play out in learning and training markets and highlights specific developments likely to emerge in segments of learning-related software, looking at how these developments will affect specific sectors. The final section of the report makes recommendations and suggests action steps that enterprise adopters and vendors of software and content can take to position themselves to benefit from future developments in OSS and OAC.

Download the report here:
Open-Source and Open-Access Learning