Thoughts on creating M6 with OSS.

I thought that I would share some of my experiences using open source software (OSS) to create this presentation. I’m not an OSS guru, although I’ve been using it much more since last term when I created a project about the implications of using it in education. This presentation was a chance to look a little deeper at some of the other aspects.

There are many free solutions for hosting a website. Ning, for instance, helped the previous two groups create great presentations, complete with comments, RSS feeds, e-mail notifications, and common logins. Google Sites is another option. It also includes the ability for all group members to contribute. We settled on Joomla because I knew it was open source, I had used it once before, and I have access to a Web server and necessary databases to install it on. Another option for us, would have been to use WordPress like the blog used in this course.

I won’t lie, there were a lot of frustrations with using Joomla. I can let my group members speak for themselves, but even up to Sunday night, there were lots of little things going wrong. For instance, if you embed a YouTube video, then edit the page after, the video is gone. I’ve since learned that using a different editor would have avoided that problem. Nevertheless, there were a lot of little issues, and under a deadline is not the best time to find them. Several people have already commented about this, and having a little more time to experiment before diving in would’ve been nice.

There were a lot of things that went well. First of all, it seemed really fitting to present this module on an open-source platform.  When we had decided upon the basic layout of the presentation, it was easy to add, remove, edit, and hide pages as needed. It was relatively easy to implement additional functions like the comments and forums, and there were a multitude of options for each choice. There were close to 10 comment systems to choose from. As it turns out, Joomla is designed to be able to handle huge and complex websites with multitudes of authors, including both backend administrative authors and front-end users. It has a lot of features in common with WordPress, likely because of their open source heritage.

I also used OpenOfficeSeaMonkey, and Gimp to create/edit content. All three of these applications work perfectly for me. There was no experimentation, I found no glitches, and they worked exactly as advertised. I would’ve been satisfied paying customer. All three of these should be beacons in the OSS community.

The big question, was it worth it? I think it was. Although Joomla is designed for more that we used, and I would like to try other content management systems too, it did the job well, giving us a clean layout, easy organization, and the ability for everyone to contribute. Like I said before, there are lots of free solutions, but I don’t regret giving OSS a chance.


1 Annette Smith { 10.22.09 at 2:21 pm }

Byron did an amazing job getting us through the technical parts of the presentation (among other things). Kudos to him!

In my part of the presentation I used and GIMP. I use Firefox and Thunderbird for browsing and mail, and I am starting to get into using Ubuntu as my OS. The images I used in my part of the presentation were all either public domain, or released under the Gnu Public License.

I hope this presentation will convince more of you to try an OSS application that you may have previously rejected, or one you have never heard of. You don’t have to jump with both feet into Linux on the first try, just explore some of the alternatives that exist now. Most of the more established projects create software that is no more difficult to use than the proprietary options.

OSS is not the exclusive domain of geeks living in basements writing code (although I’m sure there are a few of them).

2 Jay Dixon { 10.22.09 at 5:46 pm }

Your thoughts/reflections provide a great insight into your groups process. Thanks. I would agree with you, that there are many options out there. I also feel it is important to do as you did and branch out and try new OSS. Time is always a factor in design I find. I spend more time ‘playing’ to learn and troubleshooting sometimes then I plan on. My struggle at times is getting my vision into the format I want using something like wordpress or googlesites I have tried Joomla a bit and have friends who swear by it. It is as much or as little as you make it. You group has done an excellent job. I’m in Mod 9 and am working through the process right now. We may attempt something different too which is a great chance to “play & learn”

3 Mark Reed { 10.22.09 at 6:06 pm }

thank you for the detailed description of your group process as I always find this to be an interesting and often under represented part of creating an excellent learning experience like your group has done. Your project posted on utube is truly inspiring – I feel like I have just had the a ha moment and I am especially intrigued by the environmental aspects of open source because it is always great when a green venture also makes economic sense. This course really has to make so many talented students in the MET program think about out sourcing their talents in their own companies. I hope to achieve some of what you have illustrated in your video but I will need some time (after I finish this degree I imagine) and for me it isnt the money I just want to see learners engaged – perhaps some of them will be creating games or courses for everyone to use – but the inspiration to address the excuses that keep coming up that we (schools) cant keep up with the technology and it is too expensive. Anyway thanks again. Ill have to download your video to share it as utube is blocked in our district – for now.

4 Cari Wilson { 10.22.09 at 6:15 pm }


Thanks for your groups great presentation adn for your reflections on using Joomla to design your site! I must admit to being a little nervous about some of these programs, as my own knowledge is limited but I also see the value in having this kind of software on the web.

5 jennie wong { 10.22.09 at 6:16 pm }


You and your group did an excellent presentation.
Most of all, I’m beginning to see how I can find other ways around the money issue. It is very obvious that OSS has a place in the business of education.


6 Erica T { 10.23.09 at 9:26 am }

Thanks Byron for posting your reflection on your experience using OSS for your presentation. I would have to say that after this week I see a lot more options open to me…but also know that OSS is not the perfect free haven it might appear to be. I appreciate your comments about the various technical difficulties and your personal opinions on what did and did not work for you. Very helpful for those of us just starting on this MET journey. Much appreciated.

7 Liz Hood { 10.23.09 at 11:10 am }

Byron did an excellent job of troubleshooting all of our tech difficulties with Joomla! While I had several *GRRRR* moments with it, it is an outstanding choice for our purposes (and the educational environment). One of my teachers asked me for a recommendation of a place where her students could create pages and communicate with each other in a “closed environment”. I showed her our Joomla site and she was quite impressed (although her needs for her students are way more basic than what Joomla can support). She and I are going to try to utilize Joomla; mainly because we are so intrigued with the email function within the Joomla site.

While I am a user of some OSS (mozilla, audacity, OpenOffice, GIMP)…from what I learned from researching and creating my part of the module I have just partitioned my HD so I can run LINUX on the new partition and experiment with it. SOOO glad the support forums are there. 🙂

8 Byron Kask { 10.23.09 at 11:18 am }

Hi all,

@ Jay; I found that “playing” was a big part of setting up the additional components of the site. Testing out each feature without messing with the site was important to me, but it sure ate up the hours in the end. Perhaps one of the first decisions as a group for these presentations should be the platform so that there is time to make it work or pick again.

@ Mark; I still haven’t found the time to implement most of the useful technologies yet, and they keep changing on me, so it will take a break from studying to find the time needed. Also, if you want a copy of the video, I can toss it on a server for you to download.

@ Cari, Jennie, and Erica; If you’re interested in OSS, I’d just start by using it next time you need a new piece of software. For instance, two years ago my kids and I recorded a little encouragement for my with to drop on her MP3 player so she would hear it during her first half marathon. I used Audacity for it. I didn’t know that is was open source at the time, but it was free and it worked perfectly. It filled a role that was never before needed by me, and there was no frustrations switching applications because I didn’t know anything different.

Anyways, to all of you, thanks for the encouragement, and I’m glad that you enjoyed the presentation.

9 Byron Kask { 10.23.09 at 11:29 am }


If you use Windows, you can install Ubuntu from inside the Windows environment with no messing around with partitions and stuff. Ubuntu (a popular Linux distribution) allows you to install Linux to your existing partition, and if things go poorly, you can uninstall it from the Window’s “add/remove programs,” so it’s a pretty safe bet.

If you have an Ubuntu cd, pop it in and find “wubi.exe” and run it.

If you don’t you can go to and install from there. It will create a dual-boot machine, but with Windows as the default. You can try it, and if you don’t like it delete it with no changes to your existing Windows. To get to Ubuntu once it’s installed, you need to restart your computer, and you’re given a few seconds at startup to choose it, otherwise it loads Windows like normal.

10 Cathy Jung { 10.23.09 at 12:27 pm }


Thanks for sharing your experiences and reflections. I appreciate the group’s effort in putting this together and your perseverance….“even up to Sunday night, there were lots of little things going wrong”. To be honest my understanding of OSS is very limited, but going through your team presentation shed might needed light on the topic. Thanks team 6!


11 Barrie Carter { 10.24.09 at 11:33 am }

Hello Byron et al.:

As a second time front-end user of Joomla!, I enjoyed using this CMS because I knew I had a systems administrator who could quickly and effectively troubleshoot my technical issues and challenges.

In truth, I still have to understand how to use CMSs and LMSs as a systems administrator. Yes, I used Vista as a course shell, but I need more experience.

As well, I tried Plone, Drupal, and Moodle, but to no avail, for my understanding of these technologies has yet to be primed.

However, I am pleased that we were introduced to Odijoo, which I will experiment with in the very near future. Indeed, as a beginner user of LMSs, Odijoo arrived just in time.

Lastly, under ‘Information Economies and OSS’ as well as under ‘Factors in OSS Adoption’ in the Module 6 Joomla! site presentation, I posted replies to comments made by fellow course mates.



12 Ernest Pao { 10.25.09 at 8:25 pm }


Your group did a great job with this week’s presentation on OSS. Nice to hear that you also used OSS to create your presentation.

As with any software, there is a learning curve to it. Every software will have its quirks, goods and bads, things that you like and don’t like. It’s the same whether it is PS or OSS. I’ve definitely found, though, that there is a sharper learning curve to OSS. My experience basically is with Moodle. There are a lot of quirks that I wish could be fixed or features that it doesn’t have that I wish it did. Some of the lacking features would make things a lot easier and quicker from the user-end point of view. I guess I can complain since it’s free but hopefully there will be improvements in the future.



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