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How Higher Education can become efficient with Open Source Technology?

How Higher Education can become efficient with Open Source Technology?

In recent times, the COVID pandemic has affected every sector, and the higher education sector is not an exception. The institutes, students, and parents all have started feeling insecure about their future. So, let’s discuss the major obstacles in the Education sector and how Open Source may help tackle those obstacles.

A major source of the budget for educational institutes is tuition and fees along with the governmental contracts. But due to the recent situations, institutions have been closed and classes have been canceled.

At one end, this epidemic has taken a toll on the institute’s budget, and on the other side, the students are worried about the commute to the institute, the availability of the course material, curriculum completion, exams, etc.

So, what is the solution? It's Open Source Technology of course!! The Elementary schools and Middle schools have already started taking classes online and are trying to adapt to this new normal situation.

Before we jump to any conclusion let us understand what is open source, how it is beneficial for both institutes and students, and what are the readily available options.

What’s Open Source Technology? In layman terms, it means a technology that is available to the user free of cost, for the most part. Technically, it means that its source code is freely available to use, modify, and redistribute. 

Any type of software program can be open source, including operating systems (e.g., Linux), databases (e.g., PostgreSQL), applications (e.g., Apache OpenOffice), games, and even programming languages (e.g., Drupal, Python). 

Open Source technology encourages a shared community approach to the development, extension, and patching of open-source software. Most open-source projects have a dedicated group that moderates and directs the core software development and ensures that needed new features are being developed, bugs are being fixed, and the supporting documentation remains current.

Now let’s talk about the benefits the Students and Institutes will have.

  • Advantages for Students:

    • It can help raise awareness about academics for students as well as parents. This basically broadens their horizon, so to speak.
    • It can increase room for some healthy competition for the students as they can learn more things according to their own choice
    • It can act as a perfect bridge to establish an effective way of communication between the institute and its students
    • Using this kind of technology can also be pocket friendly
    • They will have the guidance and support from the institution
    • The course material will be available 24/7, This helps them learn things at their own pace as the courses and materials are readily available as and when needed.
    • Exams can be conducted online and e-certification can be availed
  • Advantages for institutions:

    • The current situation has put huge pressure on the educational institutes to continue to stay in the Educational field. The open-source technology can help the institutions stay on par with the current tradition. That means a healthy competition between institutions.
    • The new technical enhancement can also help institutions to keep old students from dropping out and gaining new ones.
    • This is the best way to increase the efficiency of the institute’s administration and management departments.
    • This technology can also help with Alumni engagements which can ultimately help raise donations for the institutes.
    • This technology can also help in innovating new ways to teach and to learn.
    • Moreover, maintaining such a system for an institute is very cost-effective as it is usually a one-time investment.
    • Since this technology is ever-changing, migration to a new system or upgrading the old system is pretty easy.
    • This technology has a better reach to the students as it can be made available on all the major mobile devices.
    • Easy management of students, courses, exams, certifications, etc.
    • The global reach of the classes and course materials

Now that we have talked about Open Source technology and its benefits, in general, it's time we talk about which one to choose. You may find many options, however, here we are listing the benefits of using the Drupal CMS, as it is at its peak in Open Source Technology. Let us see what all is available in Drupal to make it the best choice.

Drupal is an “out of the box” web content management tool as well as a customizable platform, to help you build the right tool to serve your content management strategy. 

Some of its benefits are as follows:

  • This has a very user-friendly Content Management system which makes it easier for a non-technical person to navigate throughout the system.
  • It has a WYSIWYG characteristic, meaning What You See Is What You Get
  • This is a Mobile-friendly technology, which basically means the web-content can be easily viewed on mobile or any other handheld device (like tabs or ipads)
  • This is a Developer friendly technology making coding and API (3rd party applications) integration very easy
  • Drupal also supports a complex integration of various kinds of the system making sure that it has a wide range of scalability.
  • Drupal has its own Module Library making any kind of functionality enhancement a very easy task
  • Drupal technology and Drupal Community has its own set of security standards and policies which makes it the best CMS practice.
  • Lastly, it also has a dedicated community of Drupal Developers who continuously innovate new modules or functionalities and share it with the rest of the members of the community. Hence, if a developer is stuck somewhere while coding, he/she can just ask for help.

Drupal already has a lot of pre-defined modules that have been created, keeping in mind the needs of the Higher Education sector. For Example, OpenEDU. This is a distribution created by Acquia to provide a dedicated framework structure for the higher education field institutes.

Drupal has been around for quite a few years now, and the version that is currently used most widely is Drupal 8. Drupal 9 updates are in progress as of now. There are quite a few big shots from the Educational sector that have grabbed this opportunity of working with Drupal. Some of them are Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, SMU (Singapore University), IOWA University, CityU(Hong Kong University), and many more...

So, when it comes to Open Source Technology, Drupal CMS is the go-to system for all those who seek a technology to work with. The Education system still lacks a proper system set up for every person. This is the right time for the institutes to invest in something like this as it will ensure the progress of the institute itself by a few years. Now, it is just a matter of time when all the educational institutes will start to follow the trend. Let us all keep our hopes up.

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