Open Government in Higher Education


Open educational resources, open content, open access, open research, open courseware—all of these open initiatives share, and benefit from, a vision of access and a collaborative framework that often result in improved outcomes. Many of these open initiatives have gained adoption within higher education and are now serving in mission-critical roles throughout colleges and universities, with institutions recognizing reduced costs and/or increased value related to access and quality. If such a social organization of cooperation and production (i.e., openness) does indeed enhance the creation, delivery, and management of the critical products and services required by an institution of higher education to fulfill its mission, the next logical question is whether open development and governance can have a broader applicability—beyond software, resources, courses, learning objects, and content. Can understanding the principles and practices that govern open-source initiatives, and the communities of practice that manage them, provide a potential reference model for institutions of higher education? Can colleges and universities improve administrative and academic planning and decision-making processes within institutional governance through these open principles and practices?

Our Introduction to Openness
According to the Open Source Initiative (OSI): "The 'open source' label was invented at a strategy session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, California." The idea was inspired by the seminal work "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," first presented in 1997 by Eric Raymond, whose analysis, "centered on the idea of distributed peer review, had an immediate and strong appeal both within and (rather unexpectedly) outside the hacker culture."1 Originally, Raymond believed there was "a certain critical complexity above which a more centralized, a priori approach was required" and that the most important software "needed to be built like cathedrals, carefully crafted by individual wizards or small bands of mages working in splendid isolation."2
One of the earliest open-source technologies to enter the campus portfolio was Linux, in the 1990s. As Raymond noted: "Linus Torvalds's style of development—release early and often, delegate everything you can, be open to the point of promiscuity—came as a surprise. No quiet, reverent cathedral-building here—rather, the Linux community ..........

1. Open Source Initiative, "History of the OSI," <>.
2. Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary(Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly Media, 1999), p. 21.
3. Ibid., pp. 21–22.
4. Donna Scott and George J. Weiss, "Linux Marches toward Mainstream Adoption," Gartner Research, November 11, 2003, <>.
5. "Tech Budgets Get Some Relief; Cautious Support for Open Source Applications," 
2004 Campus Computing Survey, <>.
6. Rob Abel, "Open Source Quick Survey Results," May 3, 2005, <>.
7. Lois Brooks, "Considering Open Source: A Framework for Evaluating Software in the New Economy," EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin, January 2, 2007, pp. 2–3, <>.
8. Ibid., pp. 9, 6.
9. Rob Abel, "Best Practices in Open Source in Higher Education Study: The State of Open Source Software," March 1, 2006, <> < open source hed 030106.pdf>. Quotes from "Open to Open Source," Inside Higher Ed, March 1, 2006, <>.
10. Archives of the American Scientist Open Access Forum, <>; David Wiley, "Defining 'Open,'" Iterating toward Openness, November 16, 2009, <>; "Learn for Free Online," BBC News, September 22, 2002, <>; UNESCO, "Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries: Final Report" (Paris, July 1–3, 2002), <>; Susannah Fox, "Open Research Since 2000," Pew Internet & American Life Project, April 27, 2010, <>. See also Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle, "The Total Growth of Open Source," Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2008) (New York: Springer Verlag, 2008), pp. 197–209, <>.
11. "Wireless Networks Reach Half of College Classrooms; IT Security Incidents Decline This Past Year," 2006 Campus Computing Survey, <>.
12. "IT Budgets Are Down--Again!," 2009 Campus Computing Survey,<>.
13. "uPortal Steering Committee," Jasig website, <>.
14. "Leadership," Liferay website, <>.
15. Colin Currie, "What Is Openness, Anyway?," EQ, vol. 32, no. 1 (2009), <>.
16. "EDUCAUSE Values: Openness," EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 44, no. 1 (January/February 2009), <>.
17. In addition to the Internet as a platform for production, new development processes—collectively known as agile software development—have emerged in commercial environments such as Blackboard, RedHat, Sungard, and Oracle, as well as in open-source projects such as Moodle and Sakai, promising greater responsiveness to users.
18. "Category:Governance," P2P Foundation Wiki, <>.
19. Brad Wheeler, "Open Source 2010: Reflections on 2007," EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 1 (January/February 2007), <>

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