In contrast to proprietary software development models, are open source software models. Tan, (2008), points out that proprietary software companies do not make available the source codes programs for their software while those for open source software make available the source code programs. Open source software has become more available and more used in the last decade. Universities around the world utilize open source software in their various aspects of training. It should be noted that the free software reference does not depict that a software can be obtained without monetary cost but the freedom in which software can be obtained without any struggles whatsoever. For universities, this means that an open source software can be downloaded and installed in any amount of computers they desire. If any changes are required to fit the model of teaching, a university is allowed to do so. As much as the utilization of open source software for teaching is viewed as easy, it has great implications on the future careers of students who take information technology related courses. This is because the real world out there does not consider open source software as consequential to the operation as proprietary software. Vargas Martin, (2011), reiterates that proprietary software is usually of very high quality. The viable reason why universities teaching computer courses do not make use of the proprietary software in teaching is that academic institutions are usually constrained in their use of proprietary software. As much as the license agreements are clear, most universities find themselves on violation of the user license agreement and face litigation. Use of proprietary software in universities require a high level of administrative accountability which may be a problem. This paper focuses on the utilization of open source software for teaching computer courses in universities and its effect on careers for students.
1. It is clear that open source software usually offers significant benefits as compared to proprietary software when it comes to teaching. Proprietary software is consequential in the business field so as to give an organization a competitive advantage in a market. The teaching of open source software to students provides them with an opportunity to have awareness. One of the important goals of the graduate course is to introduce students to a research area. Using open source technologies is one advantage of introducing information technology students on the fact that the many technologies that exist hence increasing their awareness in the field of computer technology. According to Management Association, Information Resources, (2014), open source software makes students to be more conversant with all types of technologies thus making them have explicit knowledge in the field of computing. Students are exposed to more knowledge in computing by experimenting on different software which is easily accessible and have the allowance of alterations. As much as students are usually seen studying the backgrounds of many subjects, it is imperative that they should have background knowledge of open source software which is used in the operation of billions of electronic devices.
In a business context where a student career is eminent, the awareness of the many functions and existence of software makes the student have the flexibility and freedom in operating proprietary software (Koch, andNeumann, 2008). A lot of commercial software usually claim that they have flexibility as in inbuilt feature, some of which are undoubtedly true. Flexibility in this context is the ability of software to be in tandem with business change, and solutions should not be constrained by the use of the software. To obtained flexibility at this architectural level, a student who has spent college years learning computer technology using open source software will have the upper hand in ensuring that even a proprietary software conforms to the ideals and the wishes of a company.
Open source software is consequential to many students across the globe. Students in university undertaking computer technology courses can reiterate that a significant amount of time is needed for one to practice so as to be able to be a professional. This training requires them to have a wide range of software in place. However, students cannot afford to purchase commercial software hence open source software is the only tool for practice (Kong, 2014). If their respective universities use proprietary software, then it will not be possible for the students to have the software installed in their machines and conduct practice at their own free time. Experimentation platforms such as the Raspberry Pi has helped many students to enhance their skills in computer technology. As per Browning, (2010), it is no secret that open source software are assisting many university students in enhancing their learning and helping them explore areas they have never done before. With this level of practice, students are becoming better hence become more competent when they graduate from universities.
In the business world, a software is a tool needed for any job hence a necessary evil (Weber, 2004). Unless there are changes needed or a new software comes up, then there is no reason whatsoever to alter the available software. However, in the bid to make more money, software vendors usually employ some tactics such alleged improvements in the existing software to have the users upgrade. A professional who has spent one’s college years practicing with open source software will have the necessary knowledge in determining whether the changes in upgrades are authentic or not. However, in the real world in computing career business are completely aware that there is no technology that is static hence software upgrades are necessary so as to be in tandem with the current technology (Whelan, and Firth, 2012). For this reason, those individuals who are conversant with open sources software usually need to help business use open source software which is affordable.
2. Free software has become the foundation of learning because students can be able to share knowledge and build upon the existing knowledge (Persico et al., 2014). In this regard, universities are more than ethical to use open source software in teaching. It may be argued that university does not promote ethical qualifications that computing students should possess. At present, many people who are not in the education sector, are using proprietary software which denies users the freedom and benefits (Reynolds, 2014). This means that one tries to copy the program to another computer, one will be found to be in violation and arrested and jailed. One cannot make a copy of a proprietary program to go and see how it works (Kelly, 2008). When universities apply the use of such commercial program, the intended purpose of teaching students will be lost. This is because students will not be able to have the knowledge in figuring out how a program works and developing the necessary skills in being able to develop own software or being able to make any corrections to a software. The developers of proprietary software usually spy on the users of the software and ensure that they restrict the users from sharing any information or idea that regards a software. Since computers contain extremely confidential information of people’s lives, proprietary software depicts a danger to the privacy of this free society. In the light of the above knowledge, regardless of what the critics think, it is evident that universities have the moral obligation to use open source software in their teaching.
The staggering high cost of integrating proprietary software in the teaching of university students is not a secret (Tiako, 2009). The funding of bringing proprietary software into universities for teaching computer students can either come from a university’s budget or special sources such as government incentives. To have a quality learning experience, students can be required to expense on the proprietary software by fee increment. This means that the parents and the guardians of such students will be coerced to dig deep into their pocket to cater for the unprecedented fee increment. In such a situation, many students will tend to halt their education due to some of their parents or guardian will be unable to cater for such additional expenses. In this regard, it is a moral obligation for universities to use open source software so as to create an opportunity for students to learn. Use of commercial software damages social cohesion. Case in point, suppose a student finds a program that will be useful to contribute to enhancing learning for other students. It is clear that a wise student would ensure that one shares the software since it is the moral thing to do so that one’s colleagues can also benefit. The fact that commercial software only permits one to use a program alone is divisive and detrimental to the relation and interaction of students. Also, students who cannot afford a commercial software will end up to be less knowledgeable than those who have access to commercial software. As much as a university may receive criticism from the computing industry, utilization of open source software enhances integration among students hence a moral obligation.
In conclusion, universities have been under a lot of pressure to ensure that they integrate proprietary software to teach their technology students. However, the unavoidable part is to ensure that universities have the software that will enable the students to learn and practice effectively. The movements for open source software has recently reached a visible status. Despite the fact that comments in the use of open source software in a teaching of universities students are derogatory, it is a plain fact that open source software gives students an opportunity to expand on their skills and become better at computer technology.
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Browning, J. (2010). Open-source solutions in education. 1st ed. Santa Rosa, CA: Informing Science Press, p.112.
Kelly, G. 2008, "A collaborative process for evaluating new educational technologies", Campus - Wide Information Systems, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 105-113.
Koch, S. & Neumann, C. 2008, "Exploring the Effects of Process Characteristics on Product Quality in Open Source Software Development", Journal of Database Management, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 31-57.
Kong, A. (2014). International Conference on Management and Engineering (CME 2014). 1st ed. DEStech Publications, Inc, p.660.
Persico, D., Fernandes, S., Garcia-Perez, A., Katsaros, P., Shaikh, S., Stamelos, I. and Cerone, A. (2014). Information Technology and Open Source: Applications for Education, Innovation, and Sustainability. 1st ed. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, p.278.
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Weber, S. (2004). The success of open source. 1st ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, p.12.
Whelan, E. & Firth, D. 2012, "Changing the Introductory IS Course to Improve Future Enrollments: An Irish Perspective", Journal of Information Systems Education, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 395-405.
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