A recent article in Fortune highlights ‘How corporate America went open-source’ which in turn highlights:
A Forrester Research survey of the business landscape in the third quarter of last year found that 48% of respondents were using open source operating systems, and 57% were using open source code
In reality the level of open source usage is probably higher than the reported thanks to open source projects like the Apache webserver, Firefox and the Android mobile operating system.
Within our own RSC we recognise the value of open source not just because of the potential cost savings but also because it encourages innovation. One of our flagship innovations is the award winning EduApps project, which has used the model popularised by portableapps.com to provide a range of open and freeware application which can be run from a USB stick.
Since it’s launch in 2008 the EduApps project has evolved finding new family members:
- MyStudyBar – a suite of apps to support literacy (also available in Spanish Mi Barra de Estudio).
- MyVisBar – a high contrast floating toolbar, designed to support learners with visual difficulties.
- MyAccess – a portal to all your favourite and accessible applications providing inclusive e-learning options for all.
All of these are the brainchild of Craig Mill our e-Learning Advisor (Accessibility and Inclusion). One of Craig’s continual frustrations is the amount of public money that is spent through the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) on commercial software to support writing, reading and planning as well as sensory, cognitive and physical difficulties when there are open and free alternatives.
To illustrate this we surveyed a number of products which provide commercial alternatives to MyStudyBar and calculated an average cost of £115 per user licence. Since March 2010 through downloads from our site alone we estimate we have potentially saved, at time of writing £729,560. It is worth highlighting this figure doesn’t include all the versions of MyStudyBar that get redistributed after downloading with an entire council looking at rolling out MyStudyBar across their entire network you can arguably add another digit.
Craig’s latest little baby is Create&Convert. This suite of portable applications has been put together in response to the Equality Act 2010 which came into force on the 1st October 2010. JISC TechDis have prepared a Single Equality Duty guidance document which highlights that the Equality Act now means that further and higher education have a requirement to take:
a proactive approach to shaping institutional processes and the promotion of equality
Create&Convert is a free tool that has been designed specifically to help institutions or organisations comply with the Act in the way that they publish information. It brings together in one neat package a range of open source programs that can quickly and capably translate electronic documents into an accessible alternative format, such as audio or a talking book. All of the tools are the outputs of the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium, and are therefore completely free to use and distribute.
Create&Convert will work with any new or existing document that is in editable form, such as the common Microsoft Word. In a nutshell, Create&Convert is a legislation-compliant, budget-friendly tool that can transform exclusion into participation for the learner.
Click here to find out more and download Create&Convert – Can you afford not to?