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Craig Perue's contribution to the "OSS and OER in Education Series." In this post, he shares his experiences while leading eLearning@UWI’s investments in open-source software to make eLearning a self-sustaining, across all of the campuses of the 15-country University of the West Indies.

Author - Craig Perue, "Not IT, not Business Processes, but Organizational Culture". Originally submitted June 14th, 2007 to the OSS and OER in Education Series, Terra Incognita blog (Penn State World Campus), edited by Ken Udas.


About one week before I joined the IT department of the Mona campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI) as the first staff member of Instruction Support Systems (ISS, the educational technology unit), I sat in a room with about twenty other persons, primarily faculty members, and was trained to use WebCT, as part of the forty or so persons on our campus to be so trained.

The next week I was put in charge of ensuring that faculty members across the campus adopted the system. That was May 2003. Four months later and two IT staff members richer, having worked long hard hours with faculty members on the Mona campus, we had about twenty four courses with over a thousand unique students ready to go for the start of the first semester.

Both the faculty members and I thought this was an immense success - but at that point I was informed that the University simply could not afford that many licenses. They wanted me to ask the faculty members to use another proprietary system with lesser functionality.

In apologizing to my clients, I assured them it would never happen again. I also told them plainly why it had happened, and why it would not recur. The reason it wouldn’t recur, of course, is because we would implement an open source replacement by the next semester. And that was how I came to receive permission from the IT Management team and the blessings of our faculty members to deploy the University’s first open-source enterprise system.

A little background on the university of the west indies

With three campuses - Cave Hill (in Barbados), Mona (in Jamaica) and St Augustine (in Trinidad) in addition to twelve centres in the other contributing countries (known as the UWI-12), The University of the West Indies currently has a total enrollment of over 36,000 students and graduates annually approximately 5,800 students (at undergraduate, graduate and diploma levels).

Evaluation, selection and implementation

Below, I will suggest why I think higher education institutions ought to consider open-source software, but first let me quickly gloss over the evaluation, selection and implementation. Other than licensing regime – it had to be an open-source license, there were three other demands imposed by our particular circumstances.

  1. Since WebCT was being aggressively implemented by the Distance Education Centre and the other two campuses, the replacement would need to be implemented as soon as possible to reduce the number of persons who would need to be re-trained for the entire University to adopt the FLOSS replacement.
  2. Because the influential, tech-savvy first adopters across the University would be among the WebCT user base by the end of the first academic year, the replacement system would need to have a low learning curve relative to WebCT for these persons and at the same time provide additional value other than cost-savings (since their campuses could afford WebCT).
  3. Although 2003 marked the official launch of the first University-wide LMS implementation, several other LMSs were already in use or proposed for use in 2003 by individual departments, and so any replacement system would need to provide an equivalent or more powerful set of features.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The impact of open source software on education. OpenStax CNX. Mar 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10431/1.7
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