Open source in higher education: how far have we come?

For those within education some of these ideas will be reminiscent of academic freedom itself. The initial Open Source movement grew in part out of US academic establishments in the 1970s and 1980s. It is often associated with current debates around open access research but we need to be careful to note the difference. Open access aims to make content widely and freely available to all. Open source, on the other hand, encourages use, reuse and – crucially – adaptation of software which is already open and available for edit.

You might wonder why software authors would want to send their code into the world under these kinds of terms to be mauled by anyone with a computer, or why a university would want to adopt open source software. The answer to that question depends on who you are.