Open Source Software in Higher Education | Education

The higher education sector is quite unlike other industries. It has its own processes and a different set of demands. Most commercial proprietary application vendors develop their applications focused on a wider domain spread across industries. This, academics complain, creates a distinct disconnect between software vendors and the end-users in academia.To overcome these shortcomings, the education industry started looking to “open source” as an alternate model. Around a decade back, institutions started debating total cost of ownership in adopting an open source based community approach vis-à-vis proprietary applications, viability of open source based business models, sustainability and security issues.The success of community developed open source software is quite well established. Linux and Apache are ample proof of its success. A similar trend, though not that widespread in its reach, can be traced to the development of community projects in education like the Moodle and Sakai.Through the course of its formative years, the open source community based approach in education has developed several alternative models. Some of these models and schools of thought have thrived and been implemented successfully across a significant spectrum of the industry. Progress and success in open source projects like the Sakai, Moodle, Kuali, uPortal, Shibboleth, and many more are being closely watched by the industry.Community Source ModelOne school of thought believes that open source sharing is more a philosophical approach than a viable alternative. The adoption of open source in higher education seems to suggest otherwise. FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) communities are thriving well in learning environments too.The FLOSS model has been extensively used in initiatives like the MIT OpenCourseWare and Open Source Biology. Project Gutenberg, the Wikipedia, The Open Dictionary project are prime examples of how open source has been successfully adapted to education initiatives.In a community source project, multiple institutions come together to partner in the project. All partners contribute financially as well as in employing human resources for the effort. In the early stages, the partnering institutions provide all design and development efforts and only in subsequent stages is the project opened to the broader community. This way, the initial support is secured and the institutions have a substantial influence in deciding how the application is modeled and designed.The initial focus of community source projects is on collaboration between institutions. The focus in the crucial first stages is therefore to form a common economic outlook and an appropriate administrative framework rather than forming a community around a shared code. Most community based open source projects slowly migrate to open source in the later stages.The Sakai project, for example, started as a joint effort between four institutions (Michigan, Indiana, MIT and Stanford). The initial agenda was to set up a framework of common goals that would produce appropriate software based on an agreed list of objectives. The scope for participation was later increased by forming the Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP), whereby other institutions can join and participate in the community for a small fee.The Current LandscapeAn education enterprise like any organization has its own needs ranging from resource planning to budgeting. Additionally, they have typical requirements like the need to integrate with financial aid programs of the government, multiple payroll cycles, and student information systems (SIS) that handle admissions, grades, transcripts, student records as well as billing. All these call for robust ERP systems. Until recently, colleges and universities mostly rely on either custom-developed systems that are more than 15 years old, or have transitioned to commercial products from vendors like Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft or vendors like SunGard that are geared towards the higher education market.Kuali Financials was borne due to the lack of open source solutions Enterprise applications in the higher education sector are comprised of a mix of some proprietary application vendors and some key open source community initiatives. PeopleSoft, Oracle, SunGard and Datatel are some key vendors that offer tightly integrated ERP packages for the education sector.Recent consolidation in the industry, like the acquisition of PeopleSoft by Oracle and of WebCT, Angel, etc by Blackboard, has caused considerable unease in the education fraternity. The concern stems from the fear that the trend of consolidation would lead to the monopoly of a few key vendors. The plans of these vendors to offer tightly integrated systems heightens the fear that this will provide an unfair leverage to these vendors as it would extend the community’s dependence on them.One area of concern about proprietary applications is a seeming disconnect between the industry and software application developers. Institutions also have strong reservations about the currently available administrative software and course management systems. The feeling is that applications provided by vendors such as SAP and PeopleSoft are adapted from other industries and does not work well for educational enterprises. Moreover, the proprietary nature of the applications implies that the source code is not available and customization efforts involve substantial costs.In the context of such a wide breadth of requirements, open source can prove to be a viable alternative. In fact, these constraints provided the impetus for open source initiatives in higher education. Some of the success has helped provide a strong foundation to building an alternative support model for the education industry.In the Sakai project, the participating institutions decided to integrate and synchronize their educational software into a pre-integrated collection of open source tools termed Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE). Sakai has active implementations running at multiple institutes including the University of Michigan and Indiana University.In parallel, Sakai also established a set of activity based communities that have spawned an active cooperation between the industry and application vendors. The Sakai Educational Partners Program allows educational institutions to participate in the program for a small fee. Besides, there are the Sakai Commercial Affiliates, who offer fee-based services for installation, integration and support..Kuali, on the other hand, mainly addresses aspects of educational administration. The Kuali Financial System (KFS) is the most prominent application. It handles administrative and operational tasks like general accounting, purchasing, salary and benefits, budgeting, asset management and grants. The system is designed around modules that enable it to be tweaked to work with existing commercial applications. For example, at Indiana University, Kuali applications work together with PeopleSoft’s HR and student system. The Kuali Foundation is a non-profit consortium of multiple universities and some hardware and software companies. The Kuali Commercial Affiliate program operates on similar lines like its Sakai counterpart. The community has been growing and now includes the University of California, Cornell, Michigan State University, San Joaquin Delta College (Calif.), and The University of Arizona.Significantly, according to the 2008 Campus Computing Survey, around 13.8 percent of the survey participants have already identified an Open Source LMS – either Moodle or Sakai – as the campus standard LMS.Besides these, several other projects offer SIS functionality. For example, openSIS manages student demographics, scheduling, attendance, grades, transcripts, and health records, and its parent company makes add-on modules to support additional features like disciplinary tracking, billing, food service, and bulk email/SMS messaging for emergency contact.Other Key intiaitives areJaSig community developing uPortal, and CAS (Central Authentication Services) two components serving as input to Kuali Rice.Internet2 – A consortium led by universities working in partnership with industry and government to develop and deploy advanced network applications and technologies including products such as Shibboleth and GrouperOpen Source CurriculaAs with any “open source” activity, open source curricula by its very definition is one that can be freely used, distributed and modified. A model like this would seemingly be antithetic to the concept of higher education as it strikes at the credibility of the education environment. Campus education is designed to operate as a structured learning methodology. The concept of community collaboration involving academics and students on the same platform brings a lot of unpredictability into the scenarioHowever, FLOSS communities (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) in education have proved to be quite successful. A key principle of this learning approach is its root in adapting it to the context of ones’ experience. With its stress on learners and their preferences, this learning approach focuses more on learning by collaboration, communication and sharing.Significant initiatives include the Connexions Project at Rice University, the OpenCourseWare project at MIT and the social learning medium of Wikipedia.The FLOSS approach in higher education has been operating in combination with traditional teacher centered approaches. The objectives of the FLOSS approach are not to replace traditional methods but to achieve synergies in combination and offer the learner an enhanced learning environment.The ‘FLOSS-like education transfer report’ published in September 2008, as part of the FLOSSCOM project, notes that FLOSS communities can create effective learning environments. The study has also come up with three different approaches that could be combined effectively with traditional teaching approaches.Economic Models of Open SourceOne aspect that clearly marks the adoption of open source as a winner is the fact that in this scenario, the developers are most often also the users of the software. This removes the perceived disconnect between the developer community and the end-users unlike in the case of proprietary applications. However, this is less evident in the case of administrative applications like payroll or HR. In such cases, adoption of open source has to be a directed process.Initiatives like the Kuali project have proved that open source can also build up sustainable models that provide adequate support mechanisms. In such models, there is active collaboration between the community that comprises not only developers and end-users, but also an extended support group comprising commercial vendors. These support groups are available to offer timely support to mission critical applications. The community approach also ensures that the code is not closed and that an active community of interest ensures that enhancements keep happening as necessitated.Projects like uPortal have been developed with minimal resources but are deployed across hundreds of institutions. The community approach has proved sustainable as in the case of the Sakai project. In terms of funding, the Sakai project garnered an investment of $6.8 million over two years.The viability of the open source, community based model stems not from the monetary or cost aspects but principally the adaptability that it offers. The debate over cost of ownership between commercially available proprietary software and open source applications is yet to be proved empirically. However, the fact that the code is open means it can be easily adapted to suit new requirements and does not involve significant investments in terms of customization or enhancements. This does make significant economic sense in the longer term.The case for open source in higher education is nicely documented in a study by the Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness. In a 2005 study report titled, ‘Will Open Source Software Become an Important Institutional Strategy in Higher Education?’ Rob Abel notes how open source is a “great fit for higher education”. The study, based on an analysis of open source projects in education, opines that the community-based approach is an interesting model that also helps reduce the inherent risks in adopting an open source approach.As for the cost model, the study notes that while open source has helped generate cost savings in the range of 20 to 30 percent for the commercial sector, the same may not be entirely true in education. The community-based approach, the writer notes, with its associated participation fees, may prove only marginally beneficial in terms of costs. Institutions that have their own infrastructure and resources may however, benefit from substantially reduced costs from their open source initiatives.The FutureOpen source has proved to be adaptable and a reliable platform for collaboration and learning. In their quest for ideal application software to handle administrative, operational and education platforms, most CIOs are looking at interoperability, reliability and scalability of applications. Applications like the Sakai and Kuali have proved beyond doubt that open source applications offer great configurability.Development communities and the support of commercial vendors, as in the case of Kuali and Sakai, fuel a greater rate of innovation. Moreover, the advantage that is offered by collaboration also provides an impetus to continued improvement of the system. Support systems and enhancements for future requirements are ensured.On the question of how to approach or adopt open source as a model, the answer would depend on the needs, the infrastructure and the means available to an institution. The community development model has shown that costs can be broadly distributed amongst participants. Experience shows that universities and colleges can collaborate to produce open source software that caters to their needs in a way that is superior to some commercial products. The collaborative model enables educational institutions to pool their financial and technical resources. Moreover, a larger community ensures that the applications are tested in a variety of testing environments, thus aiding in building robust solutions.In term of core academics, learning systems will evolve to accommodate formative assessments and evaluation outside the classroom. Many higher education institutions have taken the lead of MIT and are offering online course materials that are accessible by anyone, free of cost. It has been adopted at Yale, Notre Dame, Tufts and Stanford School of Engineering, to name a few. The United Nations has launched an initiative that would leverage social media technologies and ideas to offer higher education opportunities to people who would otherwise not be able to afford the costs.Commercially, open source projects have taken their first steps in the marketplace. The model is evolving aided by some significant commercial vendor backing. For the community-based open source approach to prosper, substantial financial backing is an absolute necessity to prevent it from faltering and to avoid the pitfalls that arise form source code being easily modifiable and rebranded by a different vendor. From the commercial perspective, projects like Sakai and the Kuali Foundation are likely to thrive as they have substantial stakeholders from both the academic and the corporate world.What could derail further adoption? There are several potential risk areas:
Lack of understanding of entry points for adoption
Lack of support to adopt the applications
Minimal staff to support the applications
Lack of training / documentation to train staff
A “runaway” project that consumes much press and develops a negative bias toward the project
Many of these risks may be mitigated though co-operative initiatives between the foundations developing the open source solutions and commercial affiliates looking to support the solutions – and develop complementation solutions. Some examples:
Further publicity through conventional, non-education related channels such as Google and industry-based sites such as edu1world
Furrther innovation and cooperation – whether through ‘summer of code’ collaborations; or community collaborations that will transform the current listservs to more accessible forums
Commercial affiliates offering training and webinars
Commercial affiliates offering ease of use entry points, such as pre-installed servers or virtual images that can be downloaded and used out of the box
In conclusion, open source initiatives in higher education have a long way to go before they enter the commercial mainstream in a significant fashion. However, with industry and academic collaboration, it has a great potential to change the higher education landscape in the longer term.

Benefits of Livestock Handling Equipment

Using high quality, durable livestock handling equipment helps reduce your workload and increase the productivity of farm operations. Fabrications, feeders, snackers and crushers are some of the most important equipment helps to maximise the potential of your livestock. You can choose from a range of high quality equipment, which include drinking troughs, lamb creep feeders, cattle crushes, sheep footbath races, sheep trailers, walk through feeders, portable hayracks and mangers, calf creep feeders, tombstone trailers and sheep snackers help increase the safety and care given to your livestock.

A circular drinking trough is one of the most important livestock handling equipment that has the capacity of holding more than 900 litres of water. You can keep it in open areas for large herds. It features smooth line interior that makes it easy to clean. Its low drinking height enhances the comfort of animals while drinking water. It is made of UV stabilised polyethylene and has frost resistance capability.

Lamb creep feeder is an essential piece of equipment that facilitates feeding young lambs. Its strong, fully welded structure ensures longevity. A double sided lamb creeper is also available. It features fully adjustable feed ladders that reduce the risk of head trapping. Calf creep feeder comes with five wide openings, adjustable height creep bar and forklift frame. It is very easy to fill this feeder with a bucket or bags.

Cattle crush is available in plenty of varieties. Dual width cattle crush features handles on both sides that allow the side panels to move inwards easily. It has a tread plate floor inclined on both sides, which helps you make sure that your animals keep their feet inside the crush. Rotating rump bar cattle crush is another useful piece of livestock handling equipment that helps to keep the animals in position. The tread plate floor keeps the hooves of the animals inside the crush and thereby prevents slipping. Squeeze crush is an excellent model that boasts of hydraulically operated adjustable side panels, which help accommodate different sized animals comfortably. It has side panels that have baffle plates at rear to eliminate the chance of leg trapping.

Durable sheep footbath race is an important piece of equipment that helps to treat the complete flock conveniently. Footbath race comes with an opening front gate and an auto slam gate to the rear. It features sheeted sides that prevent splash back. It helps you to do dosing as well.

A sheep trailer is one of the most beneficial pieces of livestock handling equipment. A special trailer is available to accommodate horned sheep comfortably. Its heavy duty galvanised construction ensures long lasting reliable performance. The tombstone trailer is another useful model that comes with steel slatted floor and rear swinging door. It eases your work of feeding your livestock, regardless of whether you have a few or hundreds.

Portable hayrack and manger comes as single and double sided unit. You can use it to feed a wide variety of your farm animals with hay. It features durable weld mesh hayrack, adjustable legs and sheet metal trough.

Snackers are very useful pieces of livestock handling equipment. They reduce labour input and save time in farms. You can use them to feed sheep, cattle and deer comfortably. Sheep snack trailer allows you to keep large quantity of feed, so you can feed large herds of animals easily. Its robust galvanised construction and swivel hitch increase your convenience and operational efficiency.

Making Money in Real Estate | Real estate

Making money in Real Estate is the most popular strategy to build wealth. If you’re not currently making money and building wealth in real estate you need to start. I have been making money using four very simple strategies that are very simple to duplicate.All of the millionaires I have learned from make money and build wealth in real estate. That’s right, all of them! These real estate strategies can set you free for life!If you learn and implement them you can build a massive amount of wealth in a very short period of time. I use a system for all four of the strategies that all go hand in hand.These strategies can easily make you rich in a very short period of time. I use the first strategy to make money fast, the second strategy for making money in chunks and the third strategy is for building wealth and creating income for the rest of my life. The last strategy I use to buy real estate extremely cheap.I use a step by step system for all of these money making systems. The first strategy requires in many cases no money and no credit. It’s the strategy I use to create anywhere from three to fifteen thousand dollars in profits per deal in a short period of time without ever even buying real estate. This strategy is known as wholesaling.It’s easy to begin making quick money. You don’t need money to make money with this strategy! If you have bad credit don’t worry, you don’t need good credit to make money with this strategy. My goal is for you to have a check in your hands of $5,000 or more in 30 days or less!I can show you my exact system on how to do it. Wholesale is nothing more than making an offer on a piece of real estate, getting that offer accepted, then simply assigning to contract to someone else. Don’t worry, making an offer on something doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to buy it”.Making offers on Real Estate is easy! You can do it two ways. Through a realtor or directly to sellers who don’t have their homes listed with a realtor.I developed a specific step by step system to find listed and unlisted properties to make offers on. Most of my deals are through listed properties. I use a realtor to make offers for me on properties that are listed.There are a lot of realtors who won’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish. I’ll teach you exactly the process I use to find my realtors as well as how to get them on the same page as you with what you want to accomplish.There are so many properties for sale. You need to learn how to find the best one’s to make offers on. Learning how to wholesale is the first step in becoming a real estate investor and getting out of the rat race! In all of my money making strategies I believe it is the easiest one for both beginners and advanced investors.I use the second strategy to create larger chunks of cash anywhere from twenty to sixty thousand dollars in profits per deal. It takes a little longer to generate those profits than the first strategy but one deal generates much more money. This strategy is called retailing.This strategy has some great advantages. It’s easy to make consistent $20,000+ on every deal, it can be done part time, and it can and should be done with someone else’s money!Flipping real estate is nothing more than buying a house; fixing it up if it needs repairs, and then selling it for a profit. Most Real estate flippers that fail don’t understand the number 1 rule, Buy Cheap! When they buy a house most of them think they’re buying it cheap but chances are they’re not.The biggest mistake investors make is they don’t calculate all of their costs before they do the deal. There is a specific formula that’s easy to follow that will make sure you follow this very important rule. The way you buy your real estate is the difference between winning and losing.If you are new to real estate investing the first strategy you should implement is wholesaling. The reason is with wholesaling you learn how to make extra money without risking your own money. When you accomplish that then move to retailing.After you learn how to earn extra money wholesaling, you will have accomplished your first step in becoming a successful flipper. That first step is learning how to buy cheap!The third strategy I use to build wealth and get paid forever. By doing this I create a monthly income that will last forever. Making money in Real Estate is not just creating quick cash; it’s also about creating enough wealth where you can literally never have to work again! This strategy is known as buying and holding.There are many ways to build a Money Making Machine. The best way is through real estate investing focused on building wealth. Making money now is important but creating wealth for the rest of your life is what will set you free!Buying real estate isn’t hard, but, buying real estate correctly is where most people go wrong. Understanding what makes up a good deal is your greatest asset with this strategy.You make money when you buy; you get paid when you sell. If you’re a beginner this will be the most important thing that must be understood. If you buy right you will have a lot of equity and great cash flow for the entire time you own a particular investment. This is what I refer to as building a money making machine.In real estate there are many strategies to make money quick. Those are the strategies you should begin with because you have to learn how to buy cheap enough to make money.After those strategies are executed that is the time to worry about building for the rest of your life. There are multiple ways to buy cheap it’s all about learning the ones that will work for you.Now, once you know how to buy cheap creating wealth is easy! Simply make sure you have great cash flow with each deal you intend on doing and before you know it after multiple deals you will start building monthly cash flow.Continue this simple recipe over and over and in a very short period of time you could be generating enough cash flow to live on then you can focus on getting rich and wealthy! Best of all you can focus on whatever you want because you don’t have to work if you don’t want to.The reason this is my favorite real estate strategy is because I love residual income. Creating something once that pays you for the rest of your life is the smartest thing you can do financially. All my rich mentors made this lesson very clear to me.Building a money making machine first starts with making quick money in real estate. Once you learn that you will know how to buy real estate the right way. From there all you have to do is hold it for cash flow for the rest of your life!The final strategy I use to buy real estate extremely cheap from distressed sellers. Buying cheap through properties in pre-foreclosure is a tremendous opportunity.There are so many ways to make money in real estate. Many people have a hard time finding which way fit’s them the best. Some people like to stick to one strategy, others like a lot of different strategies.I recommend doing some research and reading some books to learn about all the different ways there are to make money before you choose one. I recommend the following products because they should help you decide what kind of real estate strategy you want to pursue.Making money in real estate goes hand and hand with all of the other best money making strategies. The reason is the tax advantages you get blend very well together with all of the other money making strategies. Real estate investing is also one of my favorites because it is the best way to build ultimate wealth that will last forever!Learning a simple money making strategy is easy. The hard part is where and who do you ask to teach you? This used to be my problem until I met some very successful mentors.I learned for them many strategies to get rich, this one is one of the best. Making money in real estate is all about buying cheap! By finding and buying distressed real estate you will be able to buy extremely cheap.Those who have a way to buy real estate extremely cheap will succeed. Pre-foreclosure investing is a great way to buy cheap from distressed sellers. It’s a win-win situation for you and the seller.There are a few ways to buy real estate in distressed situations. If a seller is in pre-foreclose which means they are behind on payments but their home hasn’t been foreclosed on yet they would probably be very interested in selling.Most of the time people end up losing their homes and would have been much better off if someone was there to help them out of that situation. Like I said, Win-Win situation.There are two scenarios for the buyer. There is either already sufficient equity in the property for them to purchase it or there isn’t enough equity. Most of the time there won’t be enough.There is a simple money making strategy know as short sales for properties that don’t have enough equity. In this case the bank or mortgage company that has a lien on the property will most likely accept a huge discount on what they are owed in exchange for a payoff of some amount for what they are owed.For example, if a property is worth $200,000 and the bank has a lien of $180,000 for a property in not great shape they will probably accept a huge discount. The reason is the cost they have to incur to foreclose, list, and resell is huge.You make them and offer at $100,000 as a payoff. After negotiations they accept $120,000. You’re now able to buy a $200,000 home for $120,000 through your knowledge.All in all, these four Real Estate Investing Strategies all have their advantages and disadvantages. There is a sequential order they should be implemented in. Take this information and use it to the best of your ability and be smart and savvy out there.