FLOSS (Free/ Libre/ Open Source Software) refers to a collaborative, distributed, collective and innovative approach to software development. FlOSS has numerous benefits, especially for developing countries as it lowers the barriers to entry, usage, costs, adaptability, has been translated into more dialects and languages than any other software available including Vietnamese and Khmer and numerous other benefits as indicated by the FP6 FLOSSWORLD study. The FLOSSInclude project aims to strengthen Europe’s participation in international research in FLOSS and open standards, by studying what is needed to increase the deployment, development and societal impact of FLOSS in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The FLOSSInclude partners for Africa included the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT.
The FLOSSInclude project provided much needed insight into the way that FLOSS functions and the also highlighted the needs inherent within the different target regions. These results will be used to inform and augment current EU research into FLOSS within these regions. The research will also be used to compile a FLOSS roadmap for future EU FLOSS research.
The following areas were covered in the study.
- Analysis of available data to identify key problem areas and areas of blocked potential for FLOSS in the target regions. Dissemination and networking, to identify and federate local and regional initiatives
- Requirements analysis, to show with concrete cases the specific technical, business and socio-political needs for the growth of FLOSS use, deployment and development in target regions
- Validation and pilots, to ensure that FLOSS solutions, tools and services can be cost-effective and practical
- Prepare a cooperation roadmap, supported by regional initiatives, concrete cases for clearly identified requirements, with solution areas proposed that have been validated through pilots.
The case study conducted by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) was on e-learning at UWC and included a range of issues from e-learning structures to development problems of the world class, locally developed e-learning platform (Chisimba) to the challenges faced by the e-learning team at UWC in implementing a sound e-learning policy at UWC and placing UWC at the vanguard of e-learning innovation. It also documented the use of e-learning outside of the University within the regional context. For more information on the case study and project please mail Enver Ravat at [email protected]