Free or open source software is based on the principles of freedom and cost.

A few years back, one of my classmates from a graduate course had a complaint. She told me that her school bought an expensive technology system, which included tablets and interactive whiteboards, to help improve the school’s technological environment. In her opinion the purchase of this high-priced equipment was not really necessary. She believed that instead of buying such expensive technology, her school should have investigated alternatives that are inexpensive or free, and require only minimal training.

In today’s economy, schools are looking for innovative ways of serving the public by using lower-cost resources while not compromising on quality and service. Many schools do incorporate innovative methods to integrate technology in the classroom.

However, when it comes to technology infrastructure, schools are still vulnerable to commercial applications that are expensive and difficult to maintain. With the use of free or open source technologies, such as free or open source software, schools could reduce the cost of technology infrastructure. These tools could provide the same functionality of commercial software at a fraction of the cost.

(Next page: What are some common free or open source software applications?)