Open Source School Programs

The Penn Manor IT Team strongly values open source software and values. We actively seek high-quality, low-cost software solutions for our classrooms and continually evaluate open source software alternatives to commercial software. Open source represents more than zero cost; open source principles promote technological freedom of choice and a community spirit. For over a decade, the team has successfully implemented open source alternatives to propriety applications and services.

Moodle–initially installed in 2004–is a high quality open LMS alternative to Blackboard. Since 2010, all school libraries have relied on Koha, a free, community-driven collection management system. Open source software programs such as Apache, Nagios, ownCloudPuppet and WordPress are essential components of district enterprise infrastructure. In addition, all district phones systems use sipXecs, an open source IP PBX platform.

Penn Manor School District support’s Pennsylvania’s largest classroom Linux laptop fleet. As of 2016, nearly 4000 laptops running Linux are supported across 10 school buildings. Approximately 1600 laptops running Ubuntu Linux are available in K-6 classrooms. Open source software is central to the district’s 1:1 laptop learning initiative. In January 2014, 1700 Penn Manor High School students received school laptops running open source software exclusively. The open source 1:1 program was expanded to middle school students in August 2015.

Canonical–the company behind Ubuntu–featured our 1:1 high school program. Red Hat featured our open source programs and student help desk in a wonderful documentary.

The PM IT Team maintains a list of great open source software for education. Schools seeking high-quality open source desktop software may want to review LibreOffice–a replacement for the Microsoft Office suite–and GIMP–an open source graphics program similar to Photoshop.

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