Over the past several months, there have been many articles highlighting the growth in popularity of open source software solutions in education.
Here at Blackboard, we also feel that open source plays an important role in education. The recent incorporation of a non-profit organization called OSCELOT (the Open Source Community for Educational Learning Objects and Tools) by a group of passionate members of Blackboard’s developer community reflects this trend.
OSCELOT’s mission is to promote the development and sharing of open-source plugins and extensions for learning environments, including Blackboard Building Blocks and Blackboard PowerLinks, that allow Blackboard users and our partners to customize, enhance, integrate and extend our core LMS products using our open API architecture.
By pairing open source plugins with Blackboard’s commercially supported teaching and learning platform, we’ve seen rapid uptake of educational tools and platform enhancements that everyone can benefit from.
To date, there are over 70 projects hosted on OSCELOT’s site and over 150 known free or open-source plugins contributed by the community, which can be used today with Blackboard solutions to address a wide variety of teaching, learning and institutional priorities.
In addition to the increased activity we see in open-source educational tool development, we at Blackboard realize institutions may wish to use multiple learning management systems on campus, including those that are open source or home grown in nature.
Over the coming months, Blackboard will be speaking more about solutions to address this challenge and also how to better support interoperable learning tools as part of the openness efforts featured in our Next Generation Project. Our goal is to enable our clients to use technology in the best ways that they see to enable teaching and learning, and we want to do everything we can to help them achieve success with this.
To learn more about Blackboard’s extensible plugin framework, take some time to hang out at EduGarage, our developer community website, or visit us at our 6th annual Blackboard Developers Conference, July 14-15, just before the BbWorld ’08 in Las Vegas.
DevCon is an excellent opportunity to gain a more technical understanding of Blackboard solutions, to hear what projects your peers are working on, and to find out how the increasingly open direction our product is taking in upcoming releases will benefit you.
In addition to the Blackboard events, OSCELOT is hosting their 3rd annual Open Source Day just prior to DevCon 2008, to collaboratively brainstorm which tools the open source community plans to focus on over the coming year. We look forward to meeting you at these events and incorporating your feedback into our platform revisions and enhancements.