Open-Source Software is a lot like a Gingerbread House Kit

Three nights ago, my son and I had another learning adventure that we would like to tell you about, and while I did not record the learning moment in a podcast format, I am going to try to describe it for both Dads and educational technologists. You see, my son and I found the Gingerbread House Kit that my wife had purchased from Michael’s. Being curious and craft oriented this Christmas season, we decided to start building it. In about an hour we had a pretty decent Gingerbread house, but we had run out of icing and candies.

Last night, my son and I continued our adventure by purchasing a Christmas tree, a bird house to decorate for my Mom, and more icing and candies. When we got back we made that Gingerbread house the best you have ever seen (see photo), and we were even thinking about entering it in contests. In short, we were able to take a basic kit and elaborate upon that until we found something that we both really liked.

So how does this relate to Open-Source software?

For me, it is the ability to build something quickly and tailor it for your specific needs quickly. There are tons of open-source applications that you can download for free and use on your educational web site to give it more function such as learning management systems, grade books, and blogs. Because most are also distributed so that you can edit them for more specific tasks, you can make your web site a fancy gingerbread house that everyone will like. I think this is why I like the open-source movement so much. It provides a quick platform which can be edited personally for any organization’s needs.