The development of open source application software for education is at the heart of the New Zealand Open Source Virtual Learning Environment (NZOSVLE) entry in this year’s Excellence in the use of IT in education tertiary and commercial category.
The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand leads the consortium, which aims to set up an affordable virtual learning environment infrastructure.
NZOSVLE is targeted at the national education sector, so the infrastructure developed must be affordable in terms of cost. The project team adopts, adapts and then contributes back code to selected open source communities, for example the learning management system Moodle; the ELGG e-portfolio system, and the Eprints repository system.
Hosting for core hardware is provided for participants, as well as training and technical support, to allow smaller education providers to get involved.
Some of the project’s other goals include lowering total cost of ownership for e-learning infrastructure, by sharing e-learning costs and resources; strengthening the system’s capability and quality; supporting innovation in the education sector; and supporting local groups and cultural communities.
The NZOSVLE project has met all its performance measures and the return on investment has been high as a result of its widespread adoption. For example, when the team started working on Moodle there were around 350 installations around the world; there are over 10,000 installations.
The Open Polytechnic plans to expand the project further so students can have access to e-learning resources delivered from other institutions via an online network.